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DiRT Rally captures the essence of what makes rally unique - that sense of trying to remain in control, as you hurtle along dangerous, undulating roads at breakneck speed, aiming to squeeze everything out of your car whilst knowing that one crash could irreparably harm your stage time.
Codemasters puts out its first rally-only title in a long time
The regular rally racing is gorgeous, but I encountered dropped frames during the multi-car rallycross
Listening to a car game usually gets old fast, but I don't think I'll ever get tired of the cacophony of an engine popping and crackling, the crunching gravel, and screeching tires
It handles well enough that you know your failures and success are yours alone
Dirt Rally isn't deep in every area, but the gameplay alone makes this my favorite rally game
It's easy to approach a rally game as if it's another racing title. Speed, fighting for control, and a strong competitive spirit rule both, but rally racing is a different breed. If the focus of regular racing is primarily the finish, then rally racing is a marathon where you die and are reborn a million times before you reach the end. Corners aren't the only place where you gain or lose time. Every second is an attempt to conquer a growing fear. Victory at the finish line - and knowing the dangers you pushed past to get there - is an exhale of relief as much as jubilation.
To tap into the moments that make rally racing so exhilarating, you need a game that isn't just about sliding around hairpin turns. Dirt Rally's superior car handling communicates the vibrancy and challenge, creating an unparalleled experience. Dirt Rally isn't alone in translating velocity, physics, weight transfer, traction, and other intangibles into a video game package. However, the way it taxes these elements every second you're on the course in a flurry of ever-changing demands is what elevates the genre.
For example, I get a little air coming over the crest of a hill, which is not a fist-pumping moment. Being that the crest itself is at a slight angle, I have to prepare my takeoff angle before I go airborne, and once I land I'm immediately trying to gather the car back up and get ready for the bend ahead. I'm on light gravel so I shouldn't expect too much of a slide or spin of the tires, but I also have to flirt with when and how much brake I apply versus maintaining speed. Throw in a rock on the outside of the already-narrow bend that will likely destroy my car if I'm not careful. This isn't some big setpiece in a "boss battle" of a track; it's just a typical sequence you have to deal with that feels wonderful in your hands.
The co-driver is good about calling out what lies ahead through a sometimes complicated lexicon (but when he says "Don't cut" for a corner, that's a clear directive). You cannot ignore any of it, nor listen to all of it. The sweet spot occurs when you get into that auto-pilot zone, internalizing the next 100 or so yards while also focusing on the danger at hand. This is gaming as tense and demanding as you've ever known it.
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Built by Codemasters and road tested over 60 million miles by the DiRT community, DiRT Rally is the ultimate rally experience. It captures the essence of what makes rally unique like no other game - that sense of trying to remain in control of your emotions, as you hurtle along dangerous, undulating roads at breakneck speed, aiming to squeeze everything out of your car whilst knowing that one crash could irreparably harm your stage time.
Every stage tests you differently, as you race on the edge of control across varying surfaces in a range of environments such as snow, ice, tarmac and dirt and as you tackle a variety of weather types. As the car suffers attrition, you need to account for mechanical damage whilst your dedicated rally team tries to keep you competitive with time-limited repairs. Stages string together and each rally becomes a marathon-like test of concentration and skill as you trust in your co-driver, chasing that ever-elusive perfect run.
DiRT Rally also includes officially licensed World Rallycross content, allowing you to experience the breathless, high-speed thrills of some of the world's fastest off-road cars as you trade paint with other drivers at some of the series best-loved circuits, in both singleplayer and high-intensity multiplayer races.
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