DiRT Rally 2.0 Review

Richard Walker

Slap me sideways if DiRT Rally 2.0 isn't one of the toughest racing games I've played in a long while. There's no gentle introduction to slowly ease you in, there's no hand-holding tutorial bit or driving school where you can hone your skills. It’s all about the driving; nothing more, nothing less. The pure, pared-down rally experience in a bottle, stripped to the bare essentials. The game that hardcore Colin McRae Rally fans wanted, the first DiRT Rally was similarly unalloyed in its intentions, doing away with anything that muddied the core point-to-point time trial heart of Codemasters' seminal series. The sequel duly follows suit.

DiRT Rally 2.0 is the next evolution in realising its pure rally remit, and it's a racing game that's been even further honed and refined, while subtly homaging the 2000 McRae sequel with its decimal point numbered suffix. It's all about you, the car and the trail ahead, be it gravel, mud, or asphalt. Every degradable surface presents its own distinct challenge, with a degree of feedback and sensation that you don't normally get in a racing game. At least on consoles. Accessibility be damned; precision and laser-like focus are an essential requirement for success in DiRT Rally 2.0, with the tiniest of errors potentially costing you dearly.

It's punishing, but never in a way that feels unfair. Handling is immediate and responsive, but there are numerous driving assists, if you’re finding things too tricky, that you can tailor to your exact specifications. You can dial up the stability control, traction, anti-lock braking, or whatever takes your fancy. Conversely, masochists can plump for the hardcore damage model, zero assists, and high surface degradation to really churn up the mud, previous runs leaving ruts, divots and furrows in your path. Those familiar with the more welcoming DiRT games without 'Rally' in the title won't find mistake-correcting 'flashbacks' to fall back on either.

Consequently every race in DiRT Rally 2.0 is a seat-of-your-pants affair; a constant struggle between striving desperately to stay on-course, as your eyes rapidly flick across to the target time. And when it all clicks, and you're majestically swooping around curves like a rallying god, the pace notes from your co-driver passively pouring into your ears and directly to your fingertips, DiRT Rally 2.0 is sublime. When you're sliding down an embankment into a ditch and accruing time penalties left, right, and centre, it's the worst game in the world.

Without question, and in much the same way as its predecessor, DiRT Rally 2.0 is relatively light on modes and race types. But that isn't as much of an issue as you might think. There are so many variables on offer, from the myriad locations and surfaces that run the gamut from light gravel to smooth asphalt and everything in between, to the varying weather conditions and time of day. Incidentally, racing at night remains treacherous, and smashing your headlights on a tree means you’re royally screwed.

Beyond career-based rallying in 'My Team' mode with its hiring of staff, researching of new engine tuning, upgrades and such, Custom Championships are also back. These enable you to create your own events and enjoy racing online. Rallycross, meanwhile, now benefits from full FIA licensing and a host of iconic venues like Silverstone, Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, and Hell in Norway, and the core Rally experience takes in exotic hotspots like Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Argentina, Spain, and New England, USA.

Live challenges provide further ways to supplement your bank balance so you can purchase new cars to add to your garage, and new wheels are a just reward for the amount of effort you'll have to put in to building up enough credits. DiRT Rally 2.0 doesn't cough up currency willy-nilly; you really have to work for it. Fortunately, racing in Codies' uncompromising sequel is its own reward, even if it might take hours of angry restarts, teeth-gritting determination, maddening perseverance, and ultimately, revelatory rally mastery.

Make no mistake: DiRT Rally 2.0 demands commitment. Half measures will see you ploughing into a tree, bouncing off a rock and going up on two-wheels, skimming across the mud on your roof, crying as you pick up a puncture in the final crucial moments of a 12-minute route. Often, DiRT Rally 2.0 can be something of an emotional rollercoaster. Which is why you'll want to push through and persevere, defeat the brutal bends and rocky roads of Argentina, overcome the tight tree-lined routes of Hawkes Bay, and master the sun-dappled asphalt stretches of Spain.

DiRT Rally 2.0's high barrier to entry might be a tough hurdle for many to overcome, and if you're after the immediate, speedy thrills of something like Forza Horizon or Burnout, you won't find them here. Hugely challenging, but rewarding in equal measure, DiRT Rally 2.0 is a superb racing game. And while it doesn't necessarily build all that much upon the previous game, it's an excellent, fantastically accomplished sequel more than deserving of your time and attention.

DiRT Rally 2.0

Another dose of rallying heaven and hell, DiRT Rally 2.0 is hard-as-nails, uncompromising and bloody brilliant.

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Loud, ferociously throaty engines ensure DiRT Rally 2.0 sounds totally authentic, while your co-driver dispensing pace notes will keep you on your toes. Music is restricted to menus, and it's nice enough.


Degradable surfaces are more than just a visual touch, altering the condition of each track, while the game's cars and damage model are unparalleled. Every stage conjures sensational views too, although at speed, the frame rate can sometimes stutter ever so slightly. Lower end consoles also suffer from some pop-in.


Handling in DiRT Rally 2.0 is realistic, and remarkably challenging as a result. There are few concessions to accessibility, beyond the option to fiddle with a handful of driving assists and the AI difficulty.


Focusing on the essentials, DiRT Rally 2.0's 'My Team' career mode is a straightforward series of stages and events, while Custom Championships let you tailor Rally and Rallycross races. Daily and Weekly Challenges ensure there's always something new, and there's robust online racing to be had too.


A half-decent list with a smattering of tasks based around specific cars and stages. For the most part, however, this is about grinding out wins and other feats during races, many of which won't come easy.

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