Like with every Dirt instalment, and unlike some of the more ‘serious’ rally games, there is a bit of neon-flash and flair to everything Dirt 5 does. Races are peppered with neon signs, the crowds wave pink and green flares, and even the HUD is fittingly colourful for the occassion. While it is just an aesthetic touch, it does a good job to differentiate itself from other titles, and lets you know that you are here to have fun: let that rear of the car slide out a little more than usual, push the speeds to the maximum, and bob your head to the great soundtrack. Dirt 5 does a solid job at reminding you that this is a franchise for everyone, not just rally enthusiasts.
And Dirt 5 thrives on being different, with a wealth of new additions to Codemasters’ beloved offroad franchise, adding even more mud-cladded mayhem that longtime fans and newcomers will be ecstatic to find.
Codemasters are the racing developer, so of course, the racing itself is fantastic. It skirts that line between a fully-arcade racer and requiring some simulation-like skill, allowing you to throw your car around the track, but still requiring enough concentration and technique to edge your competition. The racing options are as diverse as ever, with rallycross, ice racing, Stadium Super Trucks and off-road buggies all in the mix, so the fact you’ll jump from a street-race in the night to sliding a Lamborghini Urus on ice all within one event of each other is one of Dirt 5‘s strongest attributes. There’s always something new to enjoy, and the demands of each landscape — whether trying to countersteer on the slippery ice or trudge through thick mud segments — gives Dirt 5 an incredible amount of character, not to mention the sand and snowstorms throwing some curveballs.
And additionally, for the first time in the franchise, Dirt 5 features a narrartive-driven story mode with the voice-acting talents of Nolan North (Uncharted) and Troy Baker (The Last of Us), who voice a rival driver and your mentor respectively. The story isn’t anything you wouldn’t expect, but having two of the best voice actors in the business motivate you through the races, ties all the detached events and moments together, making it feel a lot more cohesive rather than just scrolling through race types. It’s admirable for the team at Codemasters to try and inject a Need for Speed-type story into racing game, and it works. For people who tend to get fatigued by not having a ‘hook’ to persist through racing games, this is it.
Dirt 5 is also a spectacular looking game, which is to be expected from the franchise, and given the fact that it is at the tail-end of a console generation (and also available on PS5 and Xbox Series X). All in all, you’re getting arguably the most well-rounded racing package to date, with gorgeous visuals, more than enough vehicle and track variety to shake a stick at, and an unnecesary yet welcomed story mode thrown on top. Dirt 5 is a specacular step forward for the long-running franchise.
Dirt 5 is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.