What is DiRT 4?
With grass verges, hairpin bends, and more mud than a festival held in the midst of a traditional English summer, DiRT 4 is a rally game that crosses several disciplines. From rough and tumble races against other competitors in both buggies and rally cars, to time trials through the Welsh valleys and Swedish hills, or heritage rallies in classic Mini Coopers, DiRT is a game all about off road racing, and getting cars DiRTy.
How do you play DiRT 4?
With a lengthy career to work your way through, the races in DiRT 4 come under one of four categories, each of which plays in a rather different way. Standard Rallies are time trial events where you'll find yourself the only one on the track, as you listen to the all important directions from your co-driver, and race to finish in the quickest time possible. Rallycross events see half a dozen competitors face off across a mixed terrain, dirt-and-tarmac course, while Landrush sees you drifting nippy four wheel drive dune buggies around twisting, sandy courses. Finally, Heritage Rallies offer much the same experience as the normal rallies, only in much older, classier cars.
Outside of the career, DiRT 4 also comes with a Joyride mode, which lets you test your driving skills on a number of tricky challenges. Set in the DirtFish rally school in Washington, you'll compete in Time Trial races (collect green tokens scattered around the track to shave seconds off your time, or bump into red ones to add seconds on), and Target Smash challenges, which ask you to crash through as many boxes as you can on a winding route through the academy. There's also an online multiplayer mode, which lets up to eight players compete in any one of the game's four main disciplines.
How easy is DiRT 4 to pick up and play?
If you've never played a rally game before, you may be surprised at quite how different a rally is to play compared to a normal race. For starters, in DiRT 4, there's no on screen map, so if you want to know where the track goes up ahead, you'll need to listen closely to the directions from your co-driver, who'll tell you both which way the course goes, and how tight the bend is, on a scale of 1-6. Luckily, DiRT 4 comes with a great tutorial/introduction, that'll gently ease you into the world of rallies, and how the directions system works, leaving you feeling like a true pro when it's time to take on your first proper race.
DiRT 4 offers a wide range of difficulty settings, letting you set both the ability of your opponents (which mostly affects their split times in Rallies, and aggressiveness in Landrush and Rallycross events), and the realism of the game itself, letting you take your game from being a hardcore, realistic simulation, all the way down to a reasonably accessible, pick up and play off-road racer, depending on your preference. There's also two different handling styles - either "simulation", or "gamer" - which will determine how realistically your car handles, and how easy it is to make it spin (almost impossible on gamer).
However, it is worth noting that there's one realism setting you can't turn off, and that's the damage system. If you hit a tree too hard (which is easily done), or clonk your wheel on a nasty rock, you may well end up either writing your car off altogether, or giving yourself a puncture, which could cost you the race. While previous DiRT games have given you the ability to rewind should you make a nasty mistake, giving you a second chance at taking that nasty corner, there's no such ability in DiRT 4 - instead, you simply have to restart the race from the beginning, and hope you do better the second time through.
With nothing in the way of sexual content, bad language or swearing, DiRT 4 is free of any mature content.
Format Reviewed: PC