Dirt Rally 2.0 has finally made it’s way to release. Codemasters promise us the opportunity to carve our way through a slew of iconic rally locations in the worlds most powerful rally cars whilst knowing that even the smallest mistake could end in disaster. Have they delivered?

If, like most of us, the closest you have ever come to driving a real rally car is that time you ignored the loose chippings sign and went 25mph instead of 20mph then you will have no frame of reference for how it would feel to travel at over 100 miles per hour through a snow covered, tree lined track with a sheer cliff on one side of you.

1986 MK2 Golf Rally winner from Dirt Rally 2.0

I think most people would admit that whilst its amazing to watch and incredibly skilful they wouldn’t even want to be a passenger in a real life rally car. Knowing rally drivers have no fear and are probably all quite mad I think its safe to say that most of us couldn’t even get close to doing what they do.

Playing Dirt Rally 2.0 is an insight into the madness and skills of actual rally drivers. I have been getting genuinely tired when playing because I have to concentrate so hard. I like racing games, I would really like to do some track days and tear around a track at breakneck speeds. I understand the dangers but also feel I would be quite quick and relatively safe.

If my experience with Dirt Rally 2.0 is anything to go by, I should not be allowed within 50 feet of a rally car.

audi quatro rally car racing hard through the greek wilderness

When I talk about concentration, I do not mean that I look away from the screen or eat lunch while playing Wreckfest or Project Cars 2 but I can think about other things whilst playing, I can consider a racing line and think about the best gear to be in or what the opposition are up to, I can be out of position entering a corner and pull it back by adjusting the throttle or angle of attack.

When I play Dirt Rally 2.0, if I think about anything other than exactly what I am doing right now, if I am not in the right place at the start of a turn, I crash. After about an hour and a half of play I had ended more races with terminal damage than by crossing the finish line.

This game is brutally realistic and its absolutely amazing because despite its difficulty level there is a definite “one more go” appeal that never gets old. After the first 2 hours I was yet to beat an AI opponent, the closest I had come was a 6 second difference and it was the best I had ever driven.

But then, after about 2 hours I started to get a feel for things and right around the 2 hour 30 mark I won my first stage, then my first rally and I have to say that more than in any other racing game, maybe any game ever, I had the most overwhelming sense of achievement.

Dirt Rally 2.0 two cars side by side covered in mud

The handling is different to Dirt Rally, I cannot pin down the differences, I don’t have a direct drive wheel or anything as fancy as a handbrake, but there is a marked improvement in the tightness of everything and the overall control you have of the car, the force feedback from my G27 Pro is enough to let me know what the car is doing but not so refined that I am at one with the car.

It is perhaps the biggest compliment to Codemasters and something they have clearly worked hard on, that whilst you are struggling, you keep trying, there is never a sense that you can’t get better and this is a very hard thing to code and to quantify.

The graphical improvements to the game over Dirt Rally are instantly visible. The scenery looks more realistic, the menu system is simpler and easier to navigate, and the cars look outstanding. Especially the damage modelling, which is the look I am most familiar with!

A major change, and one I am yet to experience fully is track degradation. Starting first in the running order will see more loose material on the track causing you to slide a little more, conversely, being at the back of the running order, the track will rut and become more challenging. The ideal starting point then is about 3rd or 4th. As I have eluded to, the track being in a better or worse state has not made much difference to my experience yet as it’s all a bit crash filled if I don’t concentrate fully on just getting around the course.

track racing in dirt rally 2.0 fast and fun while the cars drift and slide around corners

The weather conditions feel like they make an actual difference this time around rather than a cosmetic one. I was racing in Australia on a dirt track in the dry, I did the same stage whilst it was raining and I actually had to race from an external view as I couldn’t see where I was going, the car was slipping and, at times, bogging down, I was loosing traction after a slow corner or coming in too hot and flying off the course.

The menu screen is minimalistic and it looks really good, under the My Team heading is Events, Garage and Staff, Garage naturally being where your purchased cars are and Staff is the place for you to hire or train your crew, for example your Co-Driver can have increased abilities for wheel replacement, logistics knowledge and repair ability, your Chief Engineer can increase Research or Diagnostics knowledge and your Engineers can be increase abilities in Engine, Chassis and Drivetrain repair and their knowledge of FWD, RWD and 4WD .

Clicking Events you will find Career Rally and Career Rally Cross as well as a whole host of community events and AI events which are further broken down into Daily and Weekly Challenges.

Then there is the Freeplay heading in which has, Historic, FIA World Rallycross Championship, Custom or Time Trial. The Historic Rallys need to be completed in order to move on, so you start with Classic Rally and move forward through “Back to the 80s”, “Modern Classic”, and “Present Day”. Each needing a top three finish to progress.

rally cross cars competing side by side

The FIA World Rallycross Championship is a premade event that is a great deal of fun and sees you driving some 600BHP rally cross beasts from Subaru, Ford, Audi, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagon, this mode also allows you to tailor the experience to suit your level and the level at you wish to compete. Whilst this game is far from an arcade racer this is the place to dash for a quick blast sideways around a track.

Time Trial and Custom events are as they sound but are very easy to set up and the interface is intuitive to use.

Next up is the Store, which currently takes you to an empty Steam page however, I am playing this game pre-release so I am sure this will be filled with DLC, car and track packs.

Racing takes place in Argentina, Australia, Spain, France, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, New Zealand, Poland, UK and the USA however, whilst the tracks look incredible the cars are the stars of the show though and there are 11 disciplines of cars to choose from:

FWD H1, RWD H2, RWD H3, Group B 4WD, R2, NR4/R4, R5, Rally GT, RX Super 1600, Cross Kart, RX2, and RX Supercars.

 All can be purchased with money won from competing in the career mode. Winning a rally netted me 34,100 CR and the cars range in price from 20,000 CR for a Cross Kart to 650,000 CR for the R5 class. You can also buy used cars at slightly less than the new price. There is a clear progression for the career mode and many hours of fun trying to collect the cars as well as levelling your team.

The cars are incredibly well modelled and each has a very good damage state and appears to take damage relative to the direction and force of the impacts you inflict on it.

I have had great fun and the most success in the H1 FWD cars, they are the Mini Cooper, the Lancia Fulvia and the Citroen DS 21.

You will find you favourite cars from history and present day all accounted for including the Golf GTI 16V which was developed in the 80s and was one of the first cars to win one of the first World Rally Championships in 1986.

I do not have the complete list of vehicles for you, however, I have discovered a list compiled by “tbtstt” on the Codemasters forum, full credits to that user and you can check his post out here, however, the list compiled to today is:

Historic Rally H1 (FWD) (3/3):

  • Citroen DS 21
  • Lancia Fulvia
  • Mini Cooper

Historic Rally H2 (FWD) (2/2):

  • Peugeot 205 GTI
  • Volkswagen Mk.2 Golf GTI

Historic Rally H2 (RWD) (4/4):

  • Fiat 131 Abarth
  • Ford Mk.2 Escort
  • Opel Kadett C GT/E
  • Renault Alpine A110

Historic Rally H3 (RWD) (6/6):

  • BMW E30 M3
  • Datsun 240Z
  • Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
  • Lancia Stratos
  • Opel Ascona 400
  • Renault 5 Turbo  

Historic Rally Group B (4WD) (5/5):

  • Audi Sport quattro E2
  • Ford RS200
  • Lancia Delta S4
  • MG Metro 6R4
  • Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2

Modern Rally Group A (4/4):

  • Ford Escort RS Cosworth
  • Lancia Delta Integrale
  • Subaru Impreza WRX STi
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI

Modern Rally GT (4/4):

  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4
  • Chevrolet Camaro GTR.4
  • Ford Mustang GT4
  • Porsche (997) 911 RGT (pre-order bonus)

Modern Rally R2 (3/3):

  • Ford Fiesta R2
  • Opel Adam R2
  • Peugeot 208 R2

Modern Rally NR4/R4 (2/2):

  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Subaru WRX STI NR4

Modern Rally R5 (6/6):

  • Citroen C3 R5
  • Ford Fiesta R5
  • Mitsubishi Space Star R5
  • Peugeot 208 T16 R5  
  • Skoda Fabia R5

Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

Rallycross

Supercars (7/7):

  • Audi S1 4×4 T16
  • Ford Mk. 7 Fiesta 4×4 T16
  • Ford Mk. 8 Fiesta 4×4 T16
  • Peugeot 208 4×4 T16
  • Renault Megane RS RX 4×4 T16
  • Subaru WRX STI
  • Volkswagen Polo R 4×4 T16

RX Lites (1/1):

  • OMSE RX Lite

Super 1600 (3/3):

  • Opel Corsa S1600
  • Renault Clio S1600
  • Volkswagen Polo S1600

Crosskarts (1/1):

  • Speedcar Xtrem
VW_RX_Side_1 slipping on gravel and racing with all power to the wheels

Codemasters will be releasing additional content through season 1 starting on the 12th of March, specifically:

  • – Week 1: ŠKODA Fabia Rally, Citroën C4 Rally
  • – Week 3: Monte Carlo Rally, Special Livery
  • – Week 5: BMW M1 Procar Rally, Opel Manta 400, Special Livery
  • – Week 7: Sweden Rally
  • – Week 9: Ford Focus RS Rally 2007, Subaru Impreza, Special Livery
  • – Week 11: Germany Rally

In Summary

Dirt Rally 2.0 is far and away a better rally game than Dirt Rally. It is more accessible and whilst it isn’t any easier than Dirt Rally it certainly feels more accessible. I have enjoyed every minute I have played and I have begun to appreciate its brutal difficulty.

Going fast in Dirt Rally 2.0 is about as difficult as a racing game can be but somewhere Codemasters have managed to not only make a realistic rally simulator but also make a fun and enjoyable game.

Awesome, Brutal, Difficult
  • 87%
    Gameplay - 87%
  • 90%
    Graphics - 90%
  • 93%
    Sound - 93%
  • 87%
    Longevity - 87%
  • 84%
    Value - 84%
88.2%

Summary

A brutally difficult simulation that has the one more go appeal as it retains its status as a game. Fabulous

MinkiSan
I am a dad to two small children, I am tired, really tired.

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