DiRT Rally 2.0 is the newest entry into the Colin McRae Rally series and focuses on a true driving experience beginning in the 70’s all through to modern day rally racing.
DiRT Rally 2.0 is the seventh title in the series to carry the DiRT moniker and continues following in the footsteps of its previous incarnation; a realistic driving experience. From the get-go, it’s clear that two-point-oh has been designed for true fans of the rally genre and offers little for your casual dabbler; with no tutorial and all driving assists set to “off” by default players are left to explore the menus and game modes on their own. It’s quite liberating, actually. You can jump straight into the action without the laborious task of slogging through needless hand-holding, diving head on into the bulk of the game.
DiRT Rally 2.0 offers a few different game modes for players to discover and enjoy; the main two being Free Play and the career focused My Team. In Free Play you’re given the option to take on rally through the ages. From the 70’s onward this mode offers little in the way of frills, to begin with as you barrel down uneven farm tracks and country roads from around the world. Progressing through each trail will allow you to progress through the decades unlocking more as you play. Set all over the globe the aim is to get from A to B as quick as possible while heeding the advice given to you by your in-car navigator.
The vehicles in the earlier stages of this mode handle a little better than tree trunks on wheels; which is hardly surprising seeing as the rally machines of fifty years ago were little more than road cars. There are a few tweaks you can make to your setup to help out but your choices are limited. You can opt to take fewer spare tires to lighten the load but the driving is all you. No ABS, no steering assist, just pure rally driving. It’s important to know when to go hell-for-leather and when to lay on the brakes.
The Xbox’s haptic feedback is an absolute Godsend and paying attention to all of the various ques the game is sending you really helps out. Through subtle vibrations you can feel when the road shifts from being little more than a gravel side road to a fully fledged A-Road (or whatever the Polish equivalent might be!).
The My Team option gives you the choice between Rally and Rallycross in a career setting. The latter of the two features more modern vehicles to choose from and players are pitted against a number of CPU racers in order to complete courses in the fastest time possible. It’s here that you’ll most likely spend a bulk of your time, working your way through the ranks and earning Credits. Fortunately, any Credits you earn in this mode carry over to the Free Play mode as well, allowing you to buy more vehicles, upgrade your Staff and research etc.
Unlike most racing games, veering into the path of a wayward tree has its consequences. Your engine, gearbox, clutch, differential and much more can take little to substantial damage. In some cases, you may be forced to retire from an event, while in others you may be able to limp over the finishing line. You’re able to repair and replace parts between races but you only have a limited time to do so. It’s here that you need to make the hard choices of what can last another race with just a patch up and which repairs warrant your undivided attention. For those looking to just race without the micromanagement will be happy to know that the devs have also included an auto repair option letting you get on with what’s important.
Completing races in any of the modes will earn points to unlock various tuning research levels which you can apply to your vehicles. These give you a small boost in certain areas. With that in mind, the tuning options on hand are quite in-depth and depending on your knowledge you can stand to get a lot out of them; or, if like me, you might decide to leave them alone. It’s in no way meant for the casual player, but don’t let that put you off.
Visually, DiRT Rally 2.0 holds its own. While I felt some of the environment textures could do with a little work, more often than not I was focused more on trying to stay on the track for it to make much of an impact. The cars are modelled well and the damage they take is impressively realistic. The weather effects only add to enhance the visuals while also adding something more to factor in while racing. Driving in the rain and the mud feels authentic and forces you to alter your tactics when racing in anything other than dry conditions; the rain also has the added functionality to limit your visibility – just like it would in the real world.
And as I mentioned earlier, by default all of the driving assists are turned off; it’s important to remember that there is no shame in turning these on. If like me, you enjoy rally games but you need a little help to enjoy them to their fullest then the assists will get you there. But likewise, it goes to show just how much DiRT Rally 2.0 is geared toward the more hardcore of fans. And that’s okay. What I appreciate is the ability for players like me to be able to enjoy the game as well.
But with all of this in mind the only area I feel that lets the game down is the lack of verity when it comes to locations. With only 6 environments it does feels a bit thin on the ground and can begin to feel a little repetitive at times. While Codemasters has announced addition content as part of the Season Pass I’m reluctant to pay for content that should really have shipped with the base game.
It’s clear that Codemasters has built 2.0 with the more hardcore fans in mind but the more casual players are not left in the dust; there’s a nice balance. While I must confess, I was not initially great at the game but through playing I was able to develop a feel for each of the vehicles and I think that’s what it’s all about. Knowing how to racing instead of pedal to the floor (or in this case, Right Trigger) is important but there’s a lot of fun to be had as well. If you enjoy a challenge and don’t mind being put in your place from time to time then DiRT Rally 2.0 is a strong entry into the series which I would find it difficult not to recommend.