Tuesday 8 August 2017

DiRT 4 ★★★★★

The DiRT series has a long history dating back to its roots on the PS1, when it went by Colin Mcrae Rally. Colin McRae 2.0 pushed the PS1 to its limits and was a great rally game, for its day, with the gameplay still holding up today. After McRae's death in 2007, the series changed its name to DiRT but stuck to its hardcore rally origin. DiRT and DiRT 2 had some great damage physics affecting your car, the scenery and the terrain. DiRT 3 lost its way a little, while still a good game, its fan base was largely put off by it being too "arcadey". Its 2015 outing, DiRT Rally, was highly praised as a return to roots, with high emphasis on rally simulation. A very solid and fun game.

Taking feedback from all of this, DiRT 4 offers two physics options to pick from. Gamer, which is recommend for a more arcade driven experience - turning on drive assists and some extra help with traction and drifting.For the more hardcore rally fans… Simulation, driving with assists turned off, on a muddy track, in a torrential downpour is a test to your driving skills... and fun.

As you hardly ever see the driver a character creator would be a bit much. Instead you get to pick your driver avatar between 4 gormless males, 4 females... or generic ‘Helmet-Man’. (I went with Helmet-Man). The game will run you through an introductory tutorial track and judge your driving to recommend a difficulty for you to start at. These have various differences including an aggressive driver AI, earning more money at a higher level, there are a surprising amount of game types to play from.

Career Mode, to me, was very reminiscent of Gran Turismo 2. Earn new licences to unlock more races, win money for finishing top and save up for a new car from a dealership or scout the Classified Cars section for a cheaper but used car. Events come with extra target Challenges, such as ‘make a clean race’ or ‘don't make any repairs’, which when met will earn you extra cash after each race.

During an event you can repair your vehicle between races, this uses an interesting game mechanic of giving you a set amount of game time to dedicate towards repairs. Back in the DiRT Academy, you can test drive your cars around an open derelict area with coned out corners to practice or there are empty warehouses to drive through. You can also pick training from here, teaching you more advanced techniques and the differences between front, rear and four wheel driving and driving across various conditions and terrain. 

By far the best feature of DiRT 4 is Freeplay, this mode essentially gives the game endless amounts of tracks to race on. Pick a location and then using a slider bar, you adjust the distance and complexity of a course, then hit generate and test your new personal stage. If you manage to make one you like, you can save them and upload them for friends to play and race against.
You're also able to set several stages into a competition event.

RallyCross is typically a circuit track race against other rally cars. While Land Rush is dirt circuits in buggies or trucks. A fun distraction from the career mode with a chance to race the computer's AI opponents. Joyride is full of silly challenges, smashing boxes within a time limit and a bunch of other mini games. A nice touch to all of this (and I hope more games use it) is a signal beep and controller vibration at the end of loading times to alert those of us with short attention spans who have drifted off into the world of our phones during this brief period...

Utilising the same game engine as DiRT Rally (2015), the game targets 1080p and 60FPS (frames per second) using a dynamic resolution scaler, meaning it will drop the games resolution in favour of keeping the framerate at 60FPS. The PlayStation Pro takes advantage of its extra horsepower to keep 60FPS, advance anti aliasing and an increase to shadow and reflection resolution.

DiRT 4 is a must have for any rally or driving game fan.


Bry Wyatt

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