Dirt 4 a no-brainer for petrol-heads out there
Dirt 4, PC/Xbox One/PS4, 9/10
2015's Dirt Rally was a truly special title, a benchmark for rally games and, quite possibly, Codemasters' finest moment. Dirt 4 somehow manages to exceed the accomplishments of its hugely popular predecessor, propelling the series to dizzying new heights.
It is hard to picture anything truly groundbreaking happening in gaming these days, where incremental refinements are generally all that differentiate new additions from the rest of a series. Dirt 4's 'Your Stage' goes a long way toward breaking this mould. Your Stage is Dirt 4's incredible new custom stage creator.
It is a very simple tool to use. There are just two sliders - one for length and one for complexity. The process is instant and easy, and time-of-day and weather can be adjusted for any stage you create. There are a number of terrain seeds to choose from - namely Australia, the United States, Wales, Sweden, and Spain - with each terrain offering a different degree of difficulty. Australia is generally gravelly and open, with it being the least forgiving of the five, while Spain, although being tarmac based and offering more grip, presents many more hazards in the form of winding streets and railings and walls in abundance.
While you cannot carve out and fine-tune bits and pieces of your custom tracks, the impact of having an unlimited number of unique tracks both inside and outside of career mode cannot be understated. Replay value is instantly off the charts and the ability to save the maps you like the most and share them with friends is a brilliant touch.
In Simulation mode Dirt 4 transforms into a game focused on efficiency and adaptability. You have to be patient and precise, knowing when to push the car to its limits and when to take it steady, tussling with an antagonistic wheel just to keep the car on the track; where one slight miscalculation is likely to end in gut-wrenching disaster.
There's a sense of dread that creeps in during moments like this, when you're about to eclipse the top of a hill and have no idea what's waiting for you on the other side. But take the risk and you might receive a reward in return, like the unmistakable elation that arises when you emerge through a stage unscathed.
It's this heart-quickening thrill--of knowing you're on the precipice of failure at all times--mixed with the proficiency of its mechanics, that makes Dirt 4 such an engaging rally game to play. With an absolute plethora of content already available and even more upgrades and challenges planned for the coming year, Dirt 4 is a no-brainer for the petrol-heads among us.