Published on June 21st, 2017 | by Scot Mackay0
What a struggle it is to do a review on Dirt 4 without sounding like one of the chaps from Top Gear. I mean the older chaps on the Dave channel, not the unknowns that they have doing it now. Let’s see if the newest instalment in the Dirt series still have something left in the tank.
Giving us 5 different countries to break the speed limit in, you will have to be prepared for varying terrain that throws its own challenges at you. For example; Sprinting through the deep wooded Australian farmland gives you narrow roads and tight hairpin corners that appear from nowhere varies greatly to the Snow padded ground of the Swedish stages which basically involved me just wiggling the controller left and right and hoping I was still travelling the right direction. Throw in a chilled out 120mph cruise through rural Michigan that has a much gentler sway to it, then go catch some sun whilst you bound along the dry, baked asphalt of Spain and then follow it up by signing Charlotte Church songs at the top of your voice during your light speed tour of tropical Wales.
It also pays to mention that each of the stages can be affected by varying weather. Rain drenches some of the stages and puddles form giving you an extra challenge to meander through the raindrops like Neo avoiding bullets in the Matrix. My personal favourite is when mist descends on the course and your range of vision is seriously diminished and your forced to give almost all your attention to your co-driver’s instructions. Listening is not one of my strongpoints and often, my car ended up on its roof in a ditch somewhere.
Speaking of co-drivers, each of the co-driver voices have been recorded by none other than professional co-driver Nicky Grist who has won over 20 rallies and 17 of those were with the legendary late Colin McRae and Jen Horsey who is returning from doing the voice work on Dirt 3 and is an accomplished rally driver and co-driver in her own right with multiple wins and podium finishes. So, bloody listen to them. They know what they’re talking about until the harder stages where they fluff their lines leaving you in a brief state of panic. It truly is interesting how much you will begin to rely on them and when they mess up even the slightest instruction, you mess up the entire car, the stage, your time, your win.
Over 50 cars make the cut for Dirt 4, many are fully licenced and span over the history of the sport giving fans the freedom to relive some of the hero’s accomplishments. Rounding up the vehicle list is also the addition of off road buggies and trucks that adds to giving each course a very different feel.
There are also 4 game types to keep you going but they only mildly vary away from the standard rally formula. and Historic Rally are similar except Rally you get to jump into the golden oldies of rally history in the latter. Land Rush brings in those crazily twitchy buggies and trucks which is as much fun as it sounds. Bringing up the rear is Rallycross which, in my humble opinion, is the most fun. Running laps round set courses and causing all sorts of calamities with multiple cars in the mix brings back memories of my old Sega Rally days.
Something else that Dirt 4 really should be given credit for, is the addition of procedurally produced tracks in a feature called Your Stage. Depending on your choice of difficulty and input, can give you an infinite number of unique track experiences ranging from short sprints to long haul technical masterpieces. This helps keep the game fresh and adds a bit more variety to the mix.
Backing up the gameplay is an almost exhaustive career mode filled with the menial tasks of hiring and firing of teammates, engineers and even PR staff to plaster your beautiful mug over billboards and magazines. With that comes sponsorship deals in which you can jazz up your car better than Pimp my Ride ever could. Managing all of this takes a bit of getting used to as there are so many menus and options on screen that it can get very cluttered with pages of information being thrown at you from every angle.
Now let me bring up what I thought could be improved.
Each of the cars are nicely recreated and the tracks do have an earthly feel yet despite being one of the most premium focussed Rally titles, I just can’t help but compare it to other titles such as Forza Horizon 3 which, as one of the most visually stunning racing games, offers a phenomenal rally experience with cars so accurately portrayed that their creation borders on a dedication to detail which can only be described as an addiction. Another point is the shoddily created spectators who look as if they have been pulled from the background of Nintendo 64’s WWE Warzone. They feel flat and so blocky that they may as well be cardboard cut outs. On top of that, the background scenery has an old school look that reminds me of playing rally games in arcades during the 90’s. The draw distance borders on poor, and I have noticed certain elements of tearing when heavy weather elements. It also has the same flat feel our spectators have and whilst it may not be the most important thing in the game, it certainly doesn’t help with when Dirt 4 is trying its best to keep you wrapped up in its rally world.
In short, Dirt 4 offers a fantastic rally experience yet lacks the gritty realistic look to propel it over the top into a top contending title. If there had just been a little more investment into the level of artistic detail of the Dirt 4 world, it would score higher in my eyes. Aside from these minor tweaks Dirt 4 offers pretty in depth, rally experience without the glitz and glamour of more Arcade styled titles. If you like driving cars at break neck speeds around twisted, meandering tracks whilst kicking up speckled gravel across the Spanish countryside, then this is the game for you.