Dirt holds a special place with gamers, not only due to the late, great Colin McRae having a hand in the origin and evolution of the franchise, but because developer Codemasters has managed to keep a high level of quality with each and every release; and with the primary Dirt franchise now catering for the more arcade-orientated racing fans, Dirt Rally 2.0 sets its sights and returning the series to its grubby roots for an unadulterated rally-sim.
The first Dirt Rally released back in 2017 and did so to a cheer of fan-base enthusiasm, but fans will be even more ecstatic this time around with the sequel not falling into the trap of simply adding a few new tracks and calling it a day, but rather upping the ante substantially from the first game.
Just from a visual standpoint alone, Dirt Rally 2.0 brings a far more detailed and atmospheric element to the racing, with fog, lighting, and draw-distance seeing a good polishing, along with a motion blur which smooths out frantic motion of rallying through narrow paths.
Track degradation is also abundantly apparent this time around, with the more vehicles that pass through an area causing mounds, bumps, and holes to shift. In the past, this has always been more of an aesthetic add-on than anything, but actually noticing bigger puddles, deeper grooves, and slipperier patches as you move through stages makes the track feel alive and requires you to keep you concentration up – even if you know the route.
Of course, as tricky as the conditions and track are, driving mechanics in Dirt games have always been stellar, and Dirt Rally 2.0 doesn’t break that mould. Sliding around corners at high-speeds, making subtle angle adjustments before a big turn, or getting the perfect traction you need (with a little help from pre-race modifications) all feels and works excellently.
There is a career mode to play through, which you can upgrade our car, buy new vehicles, and customise your team on hand, but strangely, this whole portion of the game requires an online connection. There are global leaderboards to rank you alongside other players – which makes sense – but the fact you have to be online to play a career mode is a little bizarre – so just keep that in mind if you’re wanting to dive into the mode without having a decent connection.
Even with the head-scratching online connectivity requirements, Dirt Rally 2.0 is the most authentic and fulfilling rally game on the market, and arguably one of the best experiences purists will find this generation.