DiRT Rally 2.0 Review

DiRT Rally 2.0 is not to be taken lightly. Those of you that, like me, enjoy the occasional racer, but wouldn’t describe yourself as an enthusiast, will be swiftly slapped into place. You see, this is much less about speedy racing, and much more about perfect execution. Winning in DiRT Rally 2.0 means paying close attention to the track above all else, and whilst it’s all too easy to get lost in the moment as you eye up the positions of your competition, taking your eyes off the prize for even a second can prove devastating. This, is for the purists.

There’s issues, mind, but we’ll get to them in due course. Booting up the game takes you to a simple, clean, and concise menu. Here, you’ll find a total of four tabs to swap between; My Team, Freeplay, Store, and Options and Extras. Events is, by my own advice, probably the best place to start. Here, you can browse events, improve and hire staff, and visit the garage to adjust and purchase your vehicles. The staff system is very easy to adapt to, and truly bolsters the fluidity of the game’s progression quite considerably throughout play.

Here, you’ll start out with a small team that consists of little more than your driver, and two engineers. However, you can indeed hire more engineers as you begin to pull in more in-game currency. There’s not a lot to keep on track of in regards to upgrades, and the game does a fine job at keeping things accessible. It certainly pays off to bulk up your staff’s capabilities. Your driver, for instance, can improve their wheel replacement ability, their logistics knowledge, and their ability to repair. The same system applies to engineers.

For instance, if you want to increase their research knowledge or their diagnostics knowledge, some credits spent in this tab will see you through. There’s a limit as to how much you can improve any given staff member’s traits, which is precisely why you’ll want to hire new members in the long run. Over in the garage, you’ll spend credits on new vehicles that spread a range of different classes. There’s a gradual climb in cost, with the high-end vehicles generally costing much more, but either way, it’s very straightforward throughout.

Now, as for the events, this is where the magic happens. Upon diving in, you’ll see a collection of different options to choose from; Career Rally, Career Rallycross, and a host of daily and weekly assignments. You would be wise to hit as many of these as possible to increase your credit count, simply because there’s some fairly pricey goodies to invest in. You’ll also need to pay for general maintenance. Regardless, once you’ve selected an event, you’ll then be taken to yet another interface; Overview, Repairs, Engine, and Upgrades.

The overview tab tells you of the state of your event vehicle, as well as allowing you to fine-tune your engine and browse some upgrades. This consists of the likes of improving your suspension and brakes, as well as allowing your staff to learn more about your selected motor. The repairs tab is where you’ll fix up your car between races, which believe me, will occur frequently. Thankfully, and once again, DiRT Rally 2.0 keeps things to-the-point; the repair system amounting to little more than a selection of fix/replace options, per-part.

The game’s loading times are fairly quick, in which the loading screens are used to relay some useful intel about your current run. You’ll see the locale, the weather conditions, the distance of your track, the track’s conditions, and more. Once you’re in an event, as well as between races, you’ll be taken to service area. Here, you can alter your vehicle’s tyres, enjoy a test-run, make some aforementioned repairs, browse a plethora of options, quite back to the menu, or retire from the event entirely. I can only speak positively of its presentation.

Oftentimes, racing games with quite a bit of depth offer up confusing UIs and menus. The developer’s choice in design here ensures that you’re constantly in the loop, and as a result, have a firm understanding as to what does what. Event length tends to vary, as does the amount of rewarded credits you’ll earn. I found events that lasted two hours, with some tracks taking well over ten minutes to make it through. I would heavily advise taking to the game’s events before hitting up other activities, simply because it’s a good place to start.

You’ll get an idea as to how the game handles and responds here, thanks to the wide selection of unique tracks (and their varying conditions) that are consistently thrown your way. When you’re done with the events, freeplay is your next port of call. Freeplay encompasses the meat of the matter; the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Outside of that, you can enjoy historic rallying, hit some time trials, and setup a custom solo or online championship. The latter of which has all the bells and whistles that you would expect.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place over eight locations, with qualifiers and bracket races present for each track. Much like how the game functions with its events, you’ll always be given all of that useful intel beforehand. The store tab is where you’ll want to be if you’re looking to browse for DLC in the Xbox Storefront. Finally, that leaves us with the options and extras, and take my word for it, DiRT Rally 2.0 doesn’t hold back. Players can tweak a wide variety of settings here, spanning general, visual, and audio settings.

There’s a nice variation of assists that you can toggle through too, giving you some useful aid if the game’s base hardcore settings are proving too much. You can also shave a layer of realism off here too, such as preventing you the ability of jumping the starting line ahead of the countdown, and much, much more. Safe to say that you’ll find no shortage of tools to tweak the responsiveness of the game however you see fit. With the game’s fundamentals out of the way, how exactly does it play? Sadly, this is where things go slightly downhill.

For all the ambition that’s driving this game, I was surprised to see as many bugs and visual blemishes as I did. Delayed rendering, ugly effects, and some daft detection being chief among them. I’ve already pointed out that DiRT Rally 2.0 is a game that requires careful movement and full concentration. So, you can imagine how disheartening it is to see these issues making an appearance, and quite frequently at that. I daresay that a good portion of my mistakes in the game were due to these problems, problems I hope are fixed shortly.

I lost count at how many races I lost due to losing my concentration over a late tree pop-in, or screen filling visual blemishes that occur when you collide with another driver. Further to that, you’ll constantly be penalized for cutting corners (and rightly so), but this feels massively unfair when you’re forced off-track due to an aggressive opponent, and get a penalty when you’re trying to correct your indirect mistake. Thankfully, these issues are not too frequent, but they certainly occur enough for me to have wanted to make a note of it.

With launch still a week away, there’s every chance that the developer can address these faults in a day one patch. Fingers crossed the latter gets sorted above all else. I found no fun in carefully maintaining first place across three laps, only to be angrily taken off-course at the last hurdle, with a time penalty dished out for no good reason. Still, through its issues, there’s a lot to like about DiRT Rally 2.0. Did I win any races across the game’s championship and its events? Did I hell, but that’s not to say that I haven’t had a thumping good time.

DiRT Rally 2.0 is as hardcore a game as a rally game can get. The game’s vehicles handle remarkably different next to one another, with weather and track conditions playing a big role throughout. Regardless of that, each track demands intelligent use of your brakes and sturdiness from start to finish. Knowing that a single mistake can send you from first place to last at the drop of a hat, will haunt you throughout the entirety of each track. I daresay that this tension is your greatest opponent in DiRT Rally 2.0, and it’s always on your ass.

Whether you’re soaring through the narrow passages of Argentina’s Catamarca Province, maneuvering the tight turns of Spain’s Ribadelles, or even hitting seemingly safe stretches in USA’s New England, the game never gives up its strenuous demands. Make no mistake about it, this is a taxing racer. It’s a racer that, win or lose, will have you gripping the pad like never before. I’m fairly certain my heart stopped every time I approached even a lenient turn, never mind the devious twists and curves that constantly and consistently put you on edge.

The game’s point-to-point rallying is easily its best component, and arguably its most tense. Here, communication is vital. Your co-driver will regularly inform you of the track layout, helping you to prepare your handling in advance of each situation. That said, knowing your course is only half the job. Perfecting the handling of your vehicle makes up for the rest. The game is brutally fast, and utterly relentless. Preparation is key, and you’ll need plenty of that, as well as a keep measurement of perseverance, to get through this in one piece.

Your vehicle will take damage whenever you collide, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be taken out of commission. Before that, chunks and vital parts of your car will take a beating first. Let me tell you, trying to drive in the dark with no headlights, or even trying to keep your car straightened up with a front-right flat, is a lot harder than it sounds. This is where the tuning, repairs, and engine upgrades come into effect, as outlined above. Had it not have been for these additions, I likely would have threw in the proverbial towel entirely.

Mercifully, any damage that you sustain here is very well relayed to you on the fly. You’ll likely know come the end of a track exactly what needs repairing, and whether you need to alter your vehicle to make it more suitable for successive runs. I can say as much about the game’s championship mode. Although not quite as captivating as the A to B racing, it’s all very well executed nonetheless. The developers have clearly put some thought into the game’s many systems, ensuring that it remains robust and diverse, yet ultimately seamless.

Whilst the game’s visuals are lacking in refinement, DiRT Rally 2.0 does look fairly good across the board, from its vehicles, right up to its track design. The audio, on the other hand, is outstanding and truly does a fine job at constantly pitching the heavy cues that you would expect from the real world counterpart. Overall, it’s a very respectable package that you’re getting here, despite its few issues. It effortlessly relays the excitement and the chaos that the series is held in high regard for. If you’re a DiRT Rally fan, you cant really go wrong.

Conclusion

DiRT Rally 2.0’s relentless difficulty truly knows no bounds, making it an experience that’s clearly been designed exclusively for rally sim enthusiasts. The game packs a respectable variation of tracks, vehicles, and modes, with a plethora of customization options present to aid you in finding comfortable handling. Despite its few technical issues, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s tense, it’s engaging, and it’s constantly exciting.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.
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Good
  • Punishing, yet ultimately satisfying gameplay.
  • Nice variation of vehicles, tracks, and modes.
  • Decent, yet not great, visual presentation.
  • Excellent audio design throughout.
  • A plethora of customizable handling options.
  • Good deal of longevity within.
Bad
  • Some technical issues persist.
  • AI can be overly aggressive.
8.5
Great
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 7
Audio - 10
Longevity - 9
Written by
Howdy folks! Now, as of July 23rd, 2019, I no longer operate here at Xbox Tavern. It was one hell of a ride; creating this, building this, and operating it for several years, but, we all hit a proverbial point that encourages us to move on, and that's what I've done; handing the reigns to the very capable Jamie. Want to keep in touch? My Gamertag is Kaloudz Peace! Love to you all, Mark!

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