DiRT Rally reader review: a tribute to a rally legend lost - Reader’s Feature

A reader is more than pleased with Codemasters’ new rally game, and names it the best racing game ever made.

This is what we wanted: a hardcore simulation with none of the Americanisation of a Scottish man’s game. Finally, Codemasters have stopped being sell-outs to the larger audience who want a rally legend’s games to be easy! The biggest insult to the DiRT series was that it held Colin McRae’s name. Whilst DiRT Rally does not hold his name it does in spirit, and is now the greatest racing game of all-time.

Sorry about the little rant, but frankly I hope the idiots that liked the DiRT series all pick this up to a) experience a real rally game and b) bump up the sales so there can be future games so, like the niche of Dark Souls, us Colin McRae fans can carve our own niche of hardcore rally games. I promise the rant is over now. I do.

You may have heard the Dark Souls comparison in Metro’s PC review and fortunately on the port to console, that quote is true across all platforms. Whilst this is a gruelling, intense ride of adrenaline the handling model on the DualShock 4 is superb. It just feels so natural and fluid that whilst realistic, it is still as enjoyable as, say, Need For Speed; even though it will push you to the limit.

Much Like the Souls games, there is no hand-holding, so you will have to learn the pace notes independently as they are the difference between nailing a corner or driving off a cliff. Luckily, I played the original Colin McRae Rally games on the PS1 as a toddler, so pace notes have been ingrained for a good 16 years. The notes are also timed perfectly, always giving you the time to brace yourself for the next corner.

In terms of career, you can pick from three sports: rally, rallycross and hillclimb and you can switch between when you feel like it. In all three disciplines you upgrade your car the longer you drive it, like when your players level up in PES. Which means you will get not only better at the game over time, your car will too; which adds a nice sense of progression which Sébastien Loeb Rally and Project CARS are missing. You also hire engineers based on their stats to repair your car quicker between stages, to get as much fixed as possible to carry on the final stages after crashing and damaging your car – which will happen to everyone.

Whilst it is annoying in your first two hours, if you learn the pace notes, keep your car as clean through each sector and finish across the line, that’s an achievement. And trust me, I pushed and pushed to try and win the first championship but even when caning the car around every corner, it was still impossible. But when I did nick a first win in Monte Carlo, I felt amazing and very accomplished. If you do persevere instead of quitting, you will feel a much greater sense of accomplishment for sticking with it.

The car roster is impressive and covers all the eras of rally and, of course, Colin McRae’s cars and are liveries available. But his Martini Focus livery is missing, so I assume there was some licensing issue. After I’d fully upgraded my Mini, I moved onto a Fiat Abarth 131 from the ‘70s, which was a lot faster and also rear wheel drive, meaning I would have to flick the back end out around most corners. And when you do flick your car round the narrow, forested areas of Finland, extremely close to death at high speed, you will feel like Colin McRae in his prime.

Rallycross is now a fully-fledged mode as well, and whilst there are only three stages compared to the 50-odd in rally, having attained the official rallycross license there are all the cars to choose and I’m sure it will be fleshed out through DLC or a sequel. Hillclimb is also stripped to one track: Pikes Peak. Although It is over 12 miles long and there are thousands of corners to remember so it should soften the lack of content blow.

Finally, I would like to praise Codemasters for bringing back the kind of rally game many like me have been dreaming of since the original Colin McRae games and the Evolution Studios WRC PlayStation 2 series. Also, to show how much they love rally, the Legend Edition includes a free Blu-ray documentary of Colin McRae’s career and life. He was my idol from a tender age of one and with his death came great sadness. But from this game comes great passion and is a wonderful tribute to a legend. I’m also hoping that come the 10th anniversary of his death next year, that Codemasters celebrate his life with a potential sequel.

My last words are that of great respect to Codemasters, as this is without a doubt a monumental achievement. And whilst it will only please a minority, I hope it gets the recognition and sales it deserves for a sequel at least. This is the Dark Souls of racing in every sense of the word: It’s brutal, punishing, unforgiving but It is also Incredibly satisfying.

A joy to play and it creates a sense of danger and adrenaline to each sector that makes it totally different to everything else on the market. This is a hardcore game, but so is rally in real life. It is not the best racing game this gen, It’s the best racing game of a generation.

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.

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