ByOliver S. Douglas, writer at Creators.co
History student at King's College London. Technology and gaming fanatic. Feed me geek things! Twitter @GentlemanOrc
Oliver S. Douglas

Anybody who is anybody in the world of driving games was aware of 2015's shocking and experimental DiRT Rally, a title which began as a pet project from a few Codemasters developers, before becoming one of the most intricate rally simulations ever made.

With freshly designed physics and handling models, as well as incredible attention to detail in each track's design, it became the benchmark for all future driving simulations. It was, however, punishingly difficult, and left many less stubborn or determined gamers out in the cold. DiRT 4 is the answer to this.

More Variety, More Customisation and More DiRT

[Credit: Codemasters]
[Credit: Codemasters]

DiRT Rally was an exceptionally ambitious project and it was pulled off with gusto, but suffered from a severe lack of content and steadily became repetitive and predictable. Players ran out of new stages to compete on, leading to an eventual state of boredom. DiRT 4 has fixed this with its new 'My Stage' generator, a simple to use procedural generator for rally stages. Using just two sliders, total beginners can make a randomized and unique rally stage to compete on, completely revolutionizing the experience. While players can't alter elevation, or specific details of the course, the generator is intelligent enough to create interesting and varied stages.

Furthermore, the inclusion of thrilling door-to-door rallycross action, and clumsy and aggressive landrush races with both trucks and buggies, adds an extra wealth of content for players seeking variation from the traditional point-to-point stages. All modes can be enjoyed with an excellent variety of vehicles, ranging from classic Mini Coopers or the legendary Lancia Stratos, to the modern 2000cc Ford Focus and Subaru Impreza S7. Every vehicle has a unique handling model, which has left me failing in stunning fashion as I forget to adapt to each vehicle.

The sheer variety is enough to make this game enjoyable. You can spend hours running different stages just to learn how to drive one car on one surface, and it is endlessly satisfying. Players now have the option of building their own driving team, and customizing their cars' liveries with the (admittedly limited) editor. There is so much gameplay here, just completing the updated career mode will take dozens of hours.

Codemasters Has Set The New Gold Standard In Rally

[Credit: Codemasters]
[Credit: Codemasters]

DiRT 3 was widely regarded as being a bit on the easy side, and DiRT Rally much too advanced for most. For the newest edition, Codemasters has attempted to balance the accessible instant-action of arcade games,with the hardcore sim aspects of Rally. This endeavour created two contrasting handling styles for players. 'Gamer' and 'Simulation' come with totally separate online leaderboards and you're never made to feel bad for picking one or the other. Personally, the realism of 'Simulation' is my preference, as 'Gamer' left me feeling like I was in a podracer without any handling quirks. While 'Simulation' is nowhere near as brutal as the handling model in DiRT Rally, it provides an extra challenge for a player seeking a more realistic experience.

This has allowed DiRT 4 to reach a much wider audience, and has set the yardstick for any future driving games targeting the off-road realm of motor-sport. Anybody can pick up a controller and learn to drive a realistic rally car with DiRT 4, and that's something Codemasters should be very proud of.

This Is Codemasters At Their Best

[Credit: Codemasters]
[Credit: Codemasters]

Not only is DiRT 4 both challenging and accessible, it is also beautiful, sounds incredible, and oozes a passion for driving and driving games. Previous games have looked bland, but DiRT 4 gleams, with everything from car paintwork to the heat haze above landrush tracks looking incredible. Once combined with the excellent sound design, this title is one of the most immersive driving games I have ever played. Soaring over a crest in a 2000cc beast at top speed has never looked or sounded better.

DiRT 4 is Codemasters at their very best. They have regained the passion and flare that marked their heyday of the 1990s, and have once again climbed to the top of the pile for driving game developers. Time will tell what they do to improve upon DiRT 4, but my hope is that they avoid the dangerous trap of DLC that haunts Need for Speed games, and simply patch and improve the systems and features already present.

But, whatever they do, DiRT 4 is an exceptionally fun game, and it should be very comfortable on the shelf of any self-respecting driving game enthusiast. This is a must-have.

Have you got your hands on DiRT 4 yet? What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

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