DiRT 4 Review

Richard Walker

Ever since the advent of DiRT and a gradual move away from traditional point-to-point rally into other off-road racing disciplines, fans of the original Colin McRae series have cried foul that Codies seem to have forgotten the series' roots. If DiRT Rally was the first step towards placating those fans, then DiRT 4 is the studio's latest effort to please everyone. The result, you should be happy to know, is a rousing success.

DiRT 4 boils its race types down to the bare essentials, putting pure Rally front and centre, alongside modes like Land Rush, Rallycross and Historic Rally, while Joyride is where you'll find the more gymkhana-oriented stuff like smashing foam blocks and such. Yes, it's still in there, but tucked away discretely. The game's deep, varied and comprehensive Career Mode is where it's really at, though, feeding you all the delicious meats of DiRT 4's off-road driving stew.

Eat my dust. Like, literally.

You can form your own racing team, create its own unique livery, enlist sponsors to plaster all over your cars, then set about employing engineers, PR agents, co-drivers and other staff who'll help run your burgeoning racing empire. It's then up to you to win as many races as you can to ensure everyone gets paid, and you can afford to fill your garage with new rides or second-hand ones from the classifieds.

Purchasing facilities for your team grants a range of perks, like R&D for acquiring new upgrades, catering to keep staff fed and raise team morale, accommodation for additional engineers and so on. As you graduate from Rally to Land Rush and into Rallycross races, new licenses are unlocked along the way, as are new events to take on in your journey to becoming the rally king of the universe. The rewarding sense of progress is guaranteed to keep you hooked.

Outside of the all-encompassing Career Mode, Freeplay offers nigh-on infinite replay value, with the 'Your Stage' feature enabling you to endlessly generate rally courses by adjusting a couple of sliders to dictate the stage length and complexity, before hitting a button to bring it to life. The weather and time of day can then be tinkered with, covering everything from bright, sunny days to dark foggy nights, rainy twilight or whatever meteorological conditions you desire.

Your Stage is a fantastic addition to DiRT 4, extending the game's longevity to infinity (and beyond) once you've exhausted the Career Mode and slew of enjoyable Joyride challenges. Not that this will happen in a hurry, mind you. It's also in Joyride that you're able to Free Roam the mode's open environment, while the DiRT Academy presents a variety of useful lessons on handling, how to approach different surfaces, mastering efficient cornering and all that jazz. The DirtFish Rallying School is a great place to cut your teeth, especially if – like me – you're one of those players who opts for the 'Gamer' setting at the beginning of the game.

Oh, yeah. Did we forget to mention that? DiRT 4 presents you with 'Gamer' or 'Simulation' handling models to choose from before you've even burnt a single ounce of rubber. Gamer, is for the more casual player who just wants to enjoy the ride, whereas Simulation is obviously for the hardened rally pros out there. And, if you'd prefer something in between, there are sliders and settings to fiddle with to customise the racing experience to your exact specifications. See? All bases covered.

DiRT 4 has options and modes up the wazoo then, but it's behind the wheel that Codemasters' latest rallying foray shines. All about pushing your car as hard as you can without barreling over a cliff edge, rally in DiRT 4 rewards bravery (the game's tagline is 'Be Fearless', FYI), keeping the hammer down without losing your nerve and ploughing into a tree. Coping with loose gravel, dust, mud, asphalt and only in Sweden, snow, is all part and parcel: there's always a different challenge to take into account.

If you're unlucky enough to incur a puncture, do you limp home to the finish line, or do you take the time penalty by ordering a repair? There are no flashbacks to fall back on anymore, with only a complete restart if things go tits-up, and they're limited too. Between stages, your engineers have to work on your car in the Service Area, so choosing which bits to focus on in the allotted time is another factor to consider. This applies across the bumpy dustbowl open-wheel buggy racing of Land Rush too, as well as the frantic wheel-to-wheel track-based competition that comes with Rallycross. You can also tune your car, if you're so inclined.

Again, DiRT 4 is a truly comprehensive racer, beautifully put together with a myriad of modes and options to mess around with. Daily, weekly and monthly challenges add even more to delve into, while RaceNet features cross-platform leaderboards, tournaments and other gubbins. No stone has been left unturned, and the range of locations and 50-odd cars give you plenty of scope to experiment and dabble in every area of the game.

In all likelihood, here you're about to have your tail nudged and spin out.

Then there's the online multiplayer bit, which includes the modes and options you'd normally expect to find. Sadly, at time of writing, there were no sessions for us to jump into, so while we're sure that DiRT 4's online facet is marvellous, we've tried to test it, but there's no one to race against just yet. We'll update this part of the review as soon as we've been rammed into a barrier by some players online.

The achievement list ties into every aspect of DiRT 4 brilliantly too, almost (whisper it) rivalling our own set of GRID 2 achievements. Yes, we're never going to shut up about those, yet DiRT 4's list is fantastic, filled with the perfect mix of fun achievements and tongue-in-cheek names. There are slightly less exciting ones like earning all of your licences, but all in all, Codies has pitched this list almost perfectly. Kudos.

Indeed, the same could be said for DiRT 4 itself. Where DiRT Rally went for pure and unadulterated, well, rally, DiRT 4 takes three core rally disciplines and polishes the hell out them, adding Historic Rally as the icing on the cake and a fitting way to pay homage to the series' legacy. Factor in Your Stage, Joyride and a great Career Mode (among other things), and DiRT 4 is just about everything you could ask for from a racing game. And then some.

DiRT 4

Further evidence that Codemasters is the undisputed rally game maestro, DiRT 4 pushes the gymkhana bits into the background and serves up an off-road racer to relish. Bravo.

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Engine noises are great, co-driver instructions are as they should be and the soundtrack playing on top of the lovely menus is superb.


Slick, slick, slick. DiRT 4 is a damn fine-looking racer, every one of its 50 or so cars rendered in intricate detail, while location vistas offer sexy views and surfaces look and behave realistically.


Whether you plump for the Gamer or Simulation handling model, DiRT 4 plays like a dream. The DirtFish Rallying School will help you hone your skills too, so players of all skill levels are invited.


Four race disciplines might not sound like much, but they're all polished and offer different experiences. The wealth of modes are all impeccably presented too. Nothing to fault here.


Codemasters has got this achievement malarkey down pat, serving up a list that boasts humour, variety, and an excellent spread. Big tick, gold star etc.

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