Between Milestone, Codemasters and others, the racing genre is alive and well. To try and keep things moving in that direction, Codemasters has returned to its off-road simulation series, this time releasing Dirt Rally 2.0 — the follow up to its critically acclaimed Dirt Rally. While the rally market may be considered a bit niche by some, Codemasters’ approach and mindset was to deliver a full-blown rally sim experience to the community.
What I Like
Rarely does a company challenge its community to master its game in the way that Codemasters does with Dirt Rally 2.0 (DR2). From start to the finish, DR2 pushes the user to understand each car, each venue, and the external factors such as weather and terrain. It’s a daunting task for sure, and one that requires a real commitment.
If that sounds like hyperbole, trust me, it is not, as the challenge that is presented is real. The game forces you to have complete focus at all times while racing, and the slightest mistakes can either be instantly terminal or cause issues throughout the championship that will produce less than desirable results.
If you’re thinking to yourself “well that doesn’t sound fun at all,” I think you might just have to see for yourself. While the difficulty level has definitely been amped up from its predecessor, the feeling of accomplishment I had when succeeding made up for the cramped hands and runny eyes that sometimes coincided with my time spent with DR2.
On top of everything else, DR2 offers My Team, which gives the user the opportunity to create and develop their own team of technicians. As the game states, “the challenges of putting in the garage work to fine-tune a ride for a performance catering to a specific racing style, managing component upgrades, and developing a supporting team of staff,” is what’s at play with this mode. What I love about the implementation of this is the difficulty of actually building your team. It takes a lot of work, a lot of credits, and a lot of dedication to get your stable of cars and your team where you want them to be.
As I hinted at above, the handling in DR2 is refined and on point, and requires full knowledge of the car, venue and weather to be even remotely successful while racing in a championship. Folks have to take the knowledge their co-driver is offering, the map that is provided and the terrain all into account, all while having 100 percent focus on what’s in front of them. It’s not an easy task for sure, but it’s one that can be mighty rewarding.
The controls, as well as the feel of braking and accelerating, create an intuitive feel that promotes a sort of synergy between the driver, vehicle and terrain. You feel every single nuance of the course and every little bit of undulation, and it all has a massive impact on your level of success.
Graphics And Sound
I have been playing this game on my Xbox One X, and the graphics are absolutely stunning — and at times photo-realistic. The game definitely looked better while traversing through the treacherous back hills of the game’s many remote real-world locations than say that of the FIA World RallyCross Championships, but the overall visuals are beautiful and immersive. Part of the beauty lies with the lighting system that is used in DR2 as it provides an ultra-realistic look and feel to the overall aesthetics of the game.
On top of the graphics and lighting, the in-game sound of the cars and terrain interaction sound incredibly realistic. It really adds another level of enjoyment to the game, even if at times I want to tell my co-driver to take a nap for a bit.
What I Don’t Like
It seems odd to mention depth being an issue when you have the FIA RallyCross Championships, team building, weekly challenges and so many locations to race at, but the game might come across as a bit shallow for fans who are not hardcore rally fans. In short, the lack of a track creator, a livery creator, and just an average online offering can be used against it.
Codemasters is renowned for a deep career mode and providing its community with a strong online stable of offerings, but DR2 struggles a bit in this category. That’s not to say that DR2 is a barren wasteland, but its main features are online championships, daily/weekly challenges and an ambiguous “find a game” element. There are no lobbies, no deep scoreboards, no track creator and no livery creator, and that stunts what would otherwise be an excellent online set of offerings.
Dirt Rally 2.0 is a title that will push the limits of your patience and ability. It is going to twist you, turn you and beat you down, and for me that’s in no way a bad thing. The level of challenge that Dirt Rally 2.0 throws at you is incredibly high, and the game never even considers apologizing for that. Overall, Dirt Rally 2.0 can lead to a sense of accomplishment that’s hard to find these days in gaming. If that type of challenge is appealing to you, then having Dirt Rally 2.0 in your rotation is an absolute must.