Dirt Rally

Racing along in Dirt 4 and Dirt Rally

While they share a common name and perhaps even a common code base, Dirt 4 and Dirt Rally are indeed quite different in their play style, graphics and implementation. As such, it’s not quite fair to pit the two against each other as so many people do.

Dirt Rally is focused on the precision and unforgiving nature of rally racing. Career mode starts with lower end, two-wheel drive cars and progresses to the more powerful four-wheel models. But, through it all, the goal is to drive as fast and precise as possible, as every second counts, resets are limited and costly, and misjudging a corner will lead to more damage and repair time than your team can afford.

Dirt 4 takes many of the previous Rally traits, but blends them with the arcade feel of Dirt 2 and Dirt 3. The tracks are still technical, the cars are still fast, the misjudged corner can still lead to disaster, but Dirt 4 doesn’t have the same punishing, and admittedly, the same lonely feel as Rally.

Like previous editions, Dirt 4 has head to head competition in Landrush, and offers more vehicle types such as the trucks and buggies seen in Dirt 2. It also offers a “gamer” mode, geared toward those who want an arcade experience versus a simulator feel.

I have both games and enjoy them for different reason. Despite the reviews, they both  have pleasing graphics. Rally is far more technical and will test your nerve, daring you to go faster, but handing out stiff consequences for cutting it too fine.

Dirt 4 is has a wider variety of tracks, vehicles and courses. While still challenging, it feels like you can recover from an early mistake. Yet it still offers the challenge of how much time can you spend repairing the car and still be competitive. And like Rally, you can’t keep clicking Reset until you get the perfect run.

During the Steam sale, the bundle price of both games was less than cost of each individually. I picked up Rally in the previous sale and grabbed Dirt 4 in the latest one. After playing each for several hours, both had me in the grip of white knuckle driving.

Dirt 4 should be compared to Dirt 2 and 3, and by that mark has many advances. I still enjoy Dirt 2, except for the Gymkhana events, which I can do without. Dirt 4 has plenty of challenges, a nice selection of vehicles, and even when mistakes are made, I feel I’m still in contention, if not for the stage, but for the overall standings.

However, with the sales going on, I wholeheartedly feel racers should get both. They are a challenge in different ways. They have their own play styles and satisfy for different reasons.

Both games are excellent, and continue building on a fine franchise. Dirt Rally is a slight departure, but offers plenty of thrills and a more simulator styled experience. Dirt 4 offers a wider variety of racing, and gives an edge of the seat racing experience. Rally will keep you on the edge of your seat as well, but time is the ultimate enemy.

Dirt 4 eschews the glamour of the X-Games style racing of it’s predecessors, but still have the same showy feel. Dirt Rally throws it away all together and your only gauge for how well you’re doing is the tone of your co-drivers voice.

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DiRT Rally by Codemasters on Steam Early Access

image So a new entry in the DiRT franchise has literally just popped up on Steam Early Access. Codemasters is putting together DiRT Rally which goes back to the edge of your seat rally racing that many of have been wanting. As several reviews have clearly stated – No Gymkhana.

At first glance the game looks very impressive and by the description of real rally stages, car setup, team mechanics, and car repair it sounds like an impressive and difficult blend of driving and management. In fact, if we jump back over a decade, it reminds me of Mobil 1 Rally Championship which I thought was incredibly fun and challenging game.

If my memory serves, it had something like 250 miles of actual rally stages and not only was it hard to drive, the car constantly took damage. Even if you didn’t slam into barriers, rocks, logs, etc, there was the constant wear and tear on the car and you could only repair it during certain sections. And then you only had a certain amount of time allotted so more than likely the car would still be broken in some respect and you’d have to plan careful to the next stage. Not only that, some of the stages were 15-20 minutes in length so you really had to concentrate and plan. It was glorious!

DiRT Rally seems to bring back a lot of those elements. And if it really does, it’s going to be a must have. I had a great time playing DiRT 2, but it was more arcade style and you could beat the hell out of the car and it would still keep going. You may lose a little time with that spectacular barrel roll, but you could still keep going. I don’t believe it’s going to work that way in DiRT Rally. It doesn’t look like you get Flashbacks or resets, so once you cock it all up, you have to live with the consequences.

If this is the game I think it is, it too will be brilliant. The description sounds right on the money for a real rally racer and from the reviews a lot of people are already singing it’s praises. And again, No Gymkhana.

As stated, the game is Early Access, which seems to scare a lot of people these days. I’m not sure it’s seen as a negative, I like Early Access and getting feedback on what’s working and what’s not. It’s not just about bug reports, but shaping how the game should play and making sure Gymkhana doesn’t creep into the game.

The cost is a dash high for Early Access and it’s initial release. Normally you jump at the discount, but the game is looking good enough that I might overlook that and just get it anyway. I’m still putting in hours on Grid Autosport, but I’m more than willing to put that aside for the opportunity to race through the forest at breakneck speeds!

DiRT Rally by Codemasters

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