If one company dominates the simulator racing market right now, it is certainly Codemasters. Not only do they have Dirt Rally 2.0 in their portfolio but they have also acquired the rights to Formula 1 and have released a line of successful titles over the last five years. See their name on the cover of a racer and you know it means quality. This developer has earned plenty of trust.
The previous Dirt Rally set the bar pretty high even if it did have some minor problems. The main one was that handling could sometimes just feel off. The car might refuse to respond to your steering. The subsequent crash into a tree just felt completely out of your control.
Fortunately, that is definitely not the case in the sequel. Dirt Rally 2.0 is incredibly sensitive. Even with a controller rather than a racing wheel setup, it is like you are really in the driving seat. Take a little trip off road in this title and the blame will squarely be on your shoulders.
That’s not to say that you are completely in control all the time. Maneuvering your car around a tight hairpin and then accelerating away often feels like you are on the very edge of turning your prized vehicle into a complete wreck.
Dirt Rally 2.0 creates more drama than even the best horror or thriller games. It ratchets up the tension with every twist and turn that you manage to get around safely. The tension builds so much that you unconsciously lean forward as the end of a stage approaches. It is so easy to end up almost on the floor of your living room.
All of this makes getting to the end of a rally stage feel like a true accomplishment. Especially when you know that any major mistake on your part would have added dozens of seconds to your time and sent you tumbling down the order.
The fact that no two runs feel the same adds to the excitement. You never take a corner the same way twice. Each attempt constantly evolves according to how you wrestled the car around the last corner. It’s a truly exhilarating game where you constantly strive for perfection while knowing it is impossible to attain. Dirt Rally 2.0 doesn’t expect perfection but does demand that you try your very best to deliver it.
The desire to make this the ultimate rally experience also extends to the way that physics affects cars and tracks. If you make an error and damage your car, it is not just lost time you have to deal with. If you burst a tire and break the suspension, getting around the next turn might prove far more difficult. The car wobbles with the G-forces and struggles to get traction.
The same is true of the road itself, even more so in rallycross where the tracks deteriorate quickly due to the sheer number of times they are used in a single event. Be prepared for less grip as the gravel and mud shift away, leaving your wheels to lock up or slide over the surface.
Content has seen a huge boost when compared to the first Dirt Rally as well. There are now six locations for traditional rally events, each with its own set of stages spanning several miles in total. Each has their own highlights and takes you to all the corners of the world, giving you the chance to experience a variety of terrains and environments with the different challenges they pose.
Rallycross has been similarly increased, with four new tracks added, including the world famous Silverstone. That brings the total to eight courses for this mode. It’s more than enough to keep anyone occupied for hours on end.
Dirt Rally 2.0 also bring back the career mode. It adds an extra dimension to running through a rally season by giving you your own team to manage. Hiring new staff and upgrading the various parts of the team becomes important during longer events where repairs will be needed. Reliability is highly valued here and being able to quickly fix any issues will be a lifesaver after your vehicle has been bashed around a bit. As you’d expect, there is also a collection of challenges that swap out weekly in addition to historic rally events and time trials.
Of course, Codemasters is renowned for creating visually impressive titles and Dirt Raly 2.0 is no exception. The locations all look spectacular while cars have a huge amount of detail. It is also impressive how vehicles degrade, acquiring dirt or damage depending on how you drive and the condition of the course.
Fortunately, it also appears the developers have ironed out some of the performance issues that affected previous games. Frames rarely drop and I haven’t run across any bugs or long load times during my playthroughs.
There have been plenty of missteps in terms of racers in the past few years and the rally genre in particular has suffered with some poor adaptations.
That isn’t the case with Dirt Rally 2.0. It has taken everything that was great in the first game and improved upon it to create a truly outstanding experience.
If you want to experience the thrills of rallying, then there is no better title on the market that captures the excitement and drama of the sport as accurately as Dirt Rally 2.0.