DiRT 4 developed by Codemasters is the sequel to DiRT Rally, although it feels more like a lovechild between DiRT Showdown and Colin McRae Rally (2013). The game brings a lot of what fans enjoyed in DiRT Rally and builds on that with brilliant additions.
When you first load up the game you are confronted with a decision to make. You have two control models in DiRT 4, Gaming and Simulation. Gaming giving slightly easier handling than its simulation counterpart. Although you are able to full customise the controls to allow traction control and stability control, among a whole host of other options.
Once through the options you get thrown into the DiRT academy, this is where you essentially can drive around getting used to the current car. Pulling handbrake turns around cones and columns, drifting through buildings. Its all very reminiscent of the episode of Top Gear with Ken Block. Once you have spent enough time here you can dive into the multitude of game modes. These game modes are separated into sections,
Heading into the career you are greeted with four options, Rally, Landrush, Rally Cross and Historic Rally. Only rally is open at the start with the other unlocking as you progress through your career.
So the main aim in your career is to build your team from scratch. You do this by completing a few races and then following a promp to create your team. Chose the livery that will adorn all your vehicles, customising the pattern and colours. Pick your team name and finish up and away you go. You now own a rally team! To race you can either buy your own cars from the numerous cars on show, or you can sign for a team. However, signing for a team will seriously deplete your winnings. In some instances the team that wanted me was trying to take upwards of 60% of my winnings.
So you have just started your new team and you want to buy a new car. Either dive into the manufacturers where you can buy the latest models available, or head into the classifieds. Inside is a treasure trove of classic rally vehicles including some iconic cars. Some of the stand out names I spotted were the Renault 5 Turbo, the Opel Manta as well as the Lancia Delta to name a few. Take your time to check out these vehicles as they all have miles on the clock.
Now to customise your team, you can chose from a number of staff members, including a chief engineer, as well as the engineers who repair your vehicles. Each person available will have a contract length and cost as well as a statistic to show where their expertise lies. Pick your team members, with extra slots becoming available as you progress through the ranks.
The final piece of the team puzzle that DiRT 4 shows to you is the team facilities. These range from bigger garages, to canteen facilities designed to keep your staff happy. Obviously when travelling the world you want to be able to eat some nice food and relax at the end of a hard stage. So there you have it, all the stages of your team development covered. Now its out on the track.
So moving away from the career section for a minute you can dive into the multiplayer modes. Giving you the option to join or create a lobby you are able to join people from all over the world. The racing is generally fair, although you will find the odd moron that things its funny to shunt you off the track. Although the game does a good job in knowing where you should be braking and turns your car into a ghost if you simple forget which button is the brake.
Yes, there is more, we haven’t even mentioned the My Stage section of DiRT 4. Randomly generate tracks by moving a few sliders and you can create individual tracks that are totally random. Want a nice straight forward fast stage to try and hit those top speeds. Not a problem. Want a short but technical stage weaving through the snowy landscape of Sweden? Easily done. You can’t fully customise the stages, but the system is up to the challenge. If you don’t like it, all you have to do is keep generating until you get what you are looking for. If you find a track that is top fun to race on, you can send this to your friends and lay down the gauntlet.
The final mode that you can take part in is the Joyride. This is DiRT 4’s answer to just mini games. Essentially you you have laptime challenges where the fastest lap wins, and smash challenges. Given destructible targets to hit all while following a specific route will test your driving to the limits. Having to hit 6 targets while going around a hairpin is no easy task. If you have OCD however you will find this mode particularly frustrating. One challenge saw me gain 84 smash boards out of 85 and only after retrying around 10 times was I able to hit that final one.
So there we have it, a brief overview of the gameplay options in DiRT4 and we didn’t even mention the ability to tweak your setups between stages, as well as having to repair any damage caused. We have to leave something as a surprise don’t we?
The graphics on DiRT 4 are not the best in the industry but one thing that it does very well is the particle effects. Hit that water hazard and your car will launch water into the air, drift around a corner and you will be kicking up dust. In general though the graphics are very nice. The cars are well modelled as is the damage model. The interior view on some of the vehicles are a delight to race in, and are all modelled to a high accuracy. Although most of my time I spend in bonnet cam you do get a great sense of speed when you are hurtling on the edge of control around tight corners.
The corner instructions that you receive during a stage are in all honesty pointless. With little squares showing corner severity and any hazards coming up they are easily missed. Whilst hurtling through a stage at 100mph you have little time to spot these and generally rely more on the audible options that you receive.
The audio on the game is fantastic as you would expect from a Codemasters title. The engine noises are varied depending on the car that you are driving. You can tell the difference in surface from the sounds you hear as well, with the gravel kicking up and bouncing off the underside of your car.
The most important part of the audio is the race notes given by your co-driver. Clear and precise, but make sure you concentrate on what they are saying. A Right 4 is a lot different than a Right 2. Listen out for the “Don’t Cut” prompt, this is important as you don’t want to get caught out by a bank and end up upside down.
With the career mode spanning a number of events, this will take you a decent amount of time to complete. Add in the multiplayer and the challenges that you receive the game has a decent amount of replayability.
Overall the game is a brilliant iteration of the franchise, and we at Thumb Culture look forward to how it’s going to develop.
DiRT 4 receives a Thumb Culture Gold Award
For more DiRT 4 information head over to the official Codemasters website here