Reviews XBOX

Dirt 4 Review – A rock solid experience from start to finish

Dirt 4 review.jpg

Let’s get one thing out of the way from the start, I’m not a big fan of racing games and I have never played a Dirt game before. Dirt 4, developed by Codemasters, opened my eyes to the world of racing games and especially, the rally theme. Now, all I can think about is beating my time on a specific track, getting more licences and progressing through ranks. The game has been a rewarding experience for me from start to finish and anyone who loves racing games should play it.

About Dirt 4 Multiplayer

There is a competitive aspect to Dirt 4 which I loved to participate in, but the rallying part of the multiplayer didn’t really feel like multiplayer in the traditional sense. You are alone when you try to set the best time on a specific track and others race by themselves as well. However, one cool thing about this is that there are cross-platform leaderboards and several events to participate in, from weekly to daily rallies.

You can race against and see other players as well in the form of Jam Sessions, which is extremely fun, as you can bump into others with massive trucks and much more. In the gameplay video at the bottom of this article, you will see clips of me racing against others on a dirt track. It feels as if there is absolutely no delay and not once did I experience a spike in latency or another vehicle act strangely, like clipping forward. The Dirt 4 multiplayer experience is, in all aspects, a solid one playing from South Africa against international opponents.

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A license to drive

There isn’t anything like a real single player story mode, but the game does offer the player a “Career mode”, where you have to progress through the ranks and earn licences, starting off by driving for a specific sponsor, to building your own team from the ground up and reaching for greatness in the rally scene. It is those licenses you have to earn that kept me interested when I first started playing the game, and my need to become better, shave one or two extra seconds off my previous best and purchase new, more powerful vehicles kept me going for a very long time.

Not only are there a massive number of vehicles to purchase, but you can customise each one with so many options available that the possibilities are almost endless. Further, you can hire more staff members to make things a little easier, but it is all tied so something akin to that of a reputation system. Your reputation with sponsors and characters in the game is, of course, linked to your performance.

Dirt 4 sponsors finished race.jpg

The more podium finishes you are able to attain, the better your reputation will become. However, lose a few in a row and who’s going to sponsor you then? I had to keep tabs on so many fine details in the game, including an email system, my crew, repairs, costs for entering a specific rally and a lot more. Repairs can seriously damage your wallet and it is something you have to look out for.

The first few tracks aren’t difficult at all, easing you into the experience of a rally car driver and helping you get accustomed to listening to your co-driver’s instructions. Then, the difficulty suddenly ramps up and the real experience begins – which means a lot of crashes. The first time I suddenly drove into a piece of road where fog resulted in just about zero visibility, is the first time that I really, truly listened to my co-driver. Without listening and understanding their instructions, you simply can’t make it past certain areas, which results in an extremely realistic experience.

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Following the guidance of your co-driver can be rewarding and sometimes, a little frustrating, but it isn’t a frustration that results from something wrong with the game. No, I was frustrated at myself for not listening properly and knew it was my fault alone for driving into that pesky tree.

When you want to take a break from rallying, then you can always jump into the “Landrush” mode, which allows you to drive around with some big trucks, dune buggies and more in a much wider area, with other AI controlled drivers, which is a fun and relaxing alternative to the intense rally tracks. The game offers a variety of modes and ways to play, from just messing around (Joy Ride), to building your career or racing against other players, there are enough options to keep you busy for a very long time.  

Performance is key

Let’s get straight to the point here, I reviewed the game on a standard Xbox One and it ran amazingly well, as I never experienced a noticeable framerate drop. The vehicles feel responsive and the environmental effects look great. The vehicles themselves and the way they handle on the dirt roads are the most important aspects of a game like Dirt 4 for me and the game does an excellent job at both.

However, I do have one small gripe with the game on Xbox One – it doesn’t look that good. Apart from the gorgeous vehicles and environmental effects, the spectators, trees and everything else through the roads look blocky. One thing that didn’t sit well with me and broke the immersion a bit was texture pop-ins, which occurred even on the entry level, small roads.

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I’m sure the game does look better on the PS4 pro and on PC is should look awesome and after watching some gameplay on other systems, it definitely does look much better. However, the graphical experience on the Xbox One just isn’t that great. Complaints aside, I would rather have a game run smoothly than have higher visual quality with framerate drops.

Dirt 4 on the Xbox One does perform really well, which is by far the most important part for me, as any frame drops could result in losing control of a vehicle, especially on a high difficulty level. The game’s music, sound (especially that of the different engines) and even the instructor or co-driver voices are extremely well done. It felt like I was being welcomed into the world of rallying with open arms. Even though it found the game extremely difficult at times, never once did I want to give up – instead, I wanted to continue on, make my virtual team proud and race till my thumbs bled.

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A podium finish

As I mentioned at the start of this review, I’m not really a fan of racing games, or rather, I wasn’t. Dirt 4 has changed my mind about racing, more specifically rallying, to the point where I not only want to play the game over and over again but also start watching some rally events.  Even for someone like me who doesn’t like racing games, Dirt 4 delivered an exceptional experience that I couldn’t stop playing.  

If you are new to the Dirt franchise, or even racing games in general, you might still want to give Dirt 4 a shot. However, if you are already a fan of the Dirt franchise, then I highly recommend you pick up the game. It is a rewarding experience that definitely deserves a spot on the racing game podium.

 

Available On: Xbox One, PS4 and PC | Reviewed on: Xbox One | Release Date: 9 June 2017  

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"an exceptional experience that I couldn’t stop playing"

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