When DiRT Rally hit home, it brought the toughest couch-based racers to their knees. It was insanely challenging, and soon became known as “the Dark Souls of racers”. So, have the Codemasters people had mercy and made things easier in DiRT Rally 2.0? Not on your life!
Of course it must be acknowledged that this was never intended to be an arcade-styled track blat. You want SEGA Rally? Well, get your Saturn out of the cupboard (or fire up the rather spectacular and less simulator-based craziness of DiRT 4). DiRT Rally 2.0 is billed as a driving simulator, and it’s the closest that we’ve ever come to having to monitor all the variables of actual driving at home. Except, thankfully, that here if we fall of a cliff – and yes, we fell off the odd cliff – we just swear a bit, reset and retry, rather than having to cope with all the bent-up car, head injuries, 000 calls and such of real life.
So, if you thought that they couldn’t make things any more intimidating this time around, you thought wrong.
Beyond some wild tracks where you’re careening down the skinniest of dirt strips with a goodness knows how many hundred metre drop beside you, the biggest addition here is track degradation. This brings a swathe of new variable to proceedings. If you start off first, you may have a pristine track, but it will also likely be looser than if you’d headed off from tenth position. Be stuck right down the bottom of the starting order and the track can be really banged up, with deeper ruts and such to have to contend with. This is, of course, beyond the challenge of taking in all that your co-driver is barking at you, while trying to get the two of you to the finish line with limbs remaining in their right places.
Many will come to DiRT Rally 2.0 for the cavalcade of cars, and they’re unlikely to be disappointed. Some 50 vehicles feature, and those that return have seen all manner of tweaks to provide even more realism. As well as all the current crop, including the Fiesta, Polo, WRX and such, there are some truly classic machines to play with. From original 1960s Minis to legends such as the ’70s Ford Escorts and ’80s Audi Quattro, players aren’t left wanting for choice.
Beyond just choosing what to race in, you then get to tweak it to the nth degree. This ranges from the simplest options such as gearbox selection, right through to what tyre compound you wish to race on. Simulator, remember?
Then there’s the type of race. You want traditional rally, where it’s you and your co-driver against the clock? OK then, options galore. What about the more stadium-friendly, multi-car competition of rallycross? Sure, go for it.
Once you prep and head off, another treat is in-store – should you have time to take it in. Some of the scenery here is breathtaking, from the good old orange dust of the Aussie outback through to the autumnal splendour of New England. We suggest taking it in via the post-race replay rather than while you’re competing though, or you may find yourself finishing with a slightly banged up ride…
If you’re not juggling enough by now, you also have to contend with varying weather conditions. Of course if you are finding it all a bit too difficult, you can dial in several assists. Needless to say, these do not default to “on”.
While six rallying locations and eight rallycross tracks are included, you’ll have to work through them to unlock everything. Patience, grasshopper, and all that. Several more are due in future updates, but these will be via paid DLC.
Again, if you just want an arcade-styled jam-the-accelerator-down-and-go experience – and there’s nothing at all wrong with that – then DiRT Rally 2.0 is not for you. This is hardcore, and you’ll need the patience of a saint – or the skills of a Colin McRae – in order to master it. But the sense of achievement when you clock that first winning time is an insane endorphin rush that will keep the dedicated coming back again and again.
DiRT Rally 2.0 is available now for PS4 and Xbox One.