Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: February 25, 2019
Dirt Rally 2.0 is a rally simulation racer available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Codemasters’ Dirt series originated in 1998 when the first game in the Colin McRae Rally series released, while the sequel Colin McRae Rally 2.0 released on PS1 in 2000 before making a debut on PS2 in 2002 with Colin McRae Rally 3 followed by two sequels in 2003 and 2004. The series moved onto the PS3 with Colin McRae: Dirt 1 and 2 in 2007 and 2009 respectively before focusing on the Dirt brand with Dirt 3 in 2011 and Dirt Showdown in 2012; meanwhile the Dirt series finally moved onto the PS4 in 2015 in the form of Dirt Rally followed by Dirt 4 in 2017. Can Dirt Rally 2.0 deliver not only the best game in the series, but also the best racing game for both of its racing disciplines?
Before gameplay begins; the player gets the opportunity to customise their driver including first name, last name, nationality, driver appearance from 5 male or 4 female drivers and a driver number, while later returning to continue to customise your driver within the profile menu provides the choice of your preferred nationality of rally co-driver and rallycross spotter.
My Team mode is essentially the career mode, although for some strange reason it requires the player to be always online within Codemaster’s Racenet. It is understandable for a rally game to branch out into having an additional career mode that compares stage times to other players; an offline single player career mode that tasks the player to compete against their preferred difficulty of A.I. opponents is certainly where any rally, driving or racing game would usually be anticipated to thrive.
Freeplay mode is the area for fans of the Dirt series that prefer their racing in offline single player. Historic comprises of Classic Rally, Back to the 80s, Modern Classics and Present Day rally categories including upwards of five stages per rally through multiple rallies in a total of three championships within each category. However, Classic Rally is the only tier that is immediately available to participate in as a top 3 finishing position in one of the championships within the previous tier is required to unlock the next historic rally tier. Meanwhile, Rallycross mode within Freeplay mode allows the player to compete for the World Rallycross Championship title with a choice of each driver, car and team throughout eight tracks that host half a dozen races per track from the first qualifying round until the final race.
Custom mode allows the player to compete against A.I. controlled opponents within a customised championship containing a combination of rally and rallycross events for anywhere from one to 14 consecutive events. Rally events can have as little as one stage to as many as 12 stages with full, authentic, optimal or no surface degradation. Meanwhile, rallycross events are either a single race or all of the half a dozen races, alongside further customisable elements such as the particular quantity of laps from 2 through 8 laps and weather conditions. Time Trial mode challenges the player to setting the fastest stage time on a rally stage throughout 12 stages per rally in half a dozen rallies or a personal best single lap time from a quantity of eight consecutive laps on any of the rallycross tracks with the choice of an optional ghost car to compare your personal best lap time to and posting the time on the online leaderboards for that specific rally stage or rallycross track.
Due to the official WRC videogame franchise having all of the cars and environments exclusively licensed; Dirt Rally 2.0 does not have any of the 2019 WRC season content, although there are many classic rally cars. However, despite the rally environments not being of 1:1 scale; there are half a dozen environments including Catamarca Province, Argentina; Monaro, Australia; Hawkes Bay, New Zealand; Leczna County, Poland; Ribadelles, Spain; and New England, USA, although Your Stage’s procedurally generated rally stages does not make a return, despite being a significant feature in Dirt 4. Track degradation plays a big part in the online career mode as players who start later into the starting order ultimately have a much harder challenge as the earlier participants will carve through the gravel or mud making for a tougher navigation of the track surface. For players who prefer officially licensed tracks or rallycross instead of WRC, then you will definitely be happy to know that Dirt Rally 2.0 has retained the title of being the official game of the World Rallycross Championship featuring rallycross tracks such as Mettet, Belgium; Trois Riviéres, Canada; Silverstone, England; Lohéac, Bretagne, France; Hell, Norway; Montalegre, Portugal; Circuit De Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain; and Höljes, Sweden in the official 2018 FIA World Rallycross RX Super 1600s, Crosskart, RX2 and RX Supercars, although there are a few tracks from the 2018 World Rallycross Championship that are not included.
Dirt Rally 2.0 does not have the official World Rally Championship license for the cars from the 2019 season, although there are numerous cars from rally and rallycross categories totalling to around 50 vehicles. Rally car manufacturers include Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Citroen, Datsun, DS21, Fiat, Ford, Lancia, MG, Mini, Mitsubishi, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Skoda, Subaru and Volkswagen, while rallycross manufacturers such as Audi, Ford, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Speedcar Xtrem, Subaru and Volkswagen. Despite there not being any official World Rally Championship cars from the 2019 WRC season; there are cars featured that were manufactured in 2019 such as Chevrolet Camaro GT4-R and Ford Mustang GT4, while historic cars date back as far back as the Mini Cooper S from 1964. Elsewhere, players can purchase vehicles from classifieds that will not be at their maximum quality and potentially a fair few miles on the clock; however cars can be upgraded by your team in the same way as Dirt 4’s career mode, albeit within Dirt Rally 2.0’s online career mode.
Car setup can be customised by tuning the vehicle prior to the start of an event including selecting a soft, medium or hard tyre compound and a choice of anywhere from 0 to 2 spare tyres; front and rear toe angle from -2 to 2 degrees and front and rear camber angle from 0 to -1.50 degrees; balancing between a low, medium or high braking force and adjusting brake bias to emphasise the rear or front brakes; an open or locked front differential and braking lock and a low or high preload; perfecting the gear ratio for each gear and the final drive; adjust the front and rear slow bump and slow rebound; and calibrating front and rear ride height and anti-roll bar.
Damage to car components can be repaired at the service park that is situated periodically after usually completing two stages of normal length or one much longer stage. There is a maximum of 30 minutes to repair the damage with a set time allocated for a quick fix, standard repair or fully replacing the component including repairing the engine, exhaust, radiator, clutch, differential, gearbox, bodywork, brakes, dampers, springs, wheel geometry and lights. It is important to pay attention to how damaged your car is, as crashing without repairing the damage will progressively lower the performance of your car; therefore resulting in a heavily damaged car needing to be repaired tactically with an emphasis placed on how best to approach repairing the major car components within the allotted 30 minutes time limit in order to retain your chosen car’s usual performance for the following stages.
Dirt Rally 2.0 continues not only Codemasters’, but also the Dirt franchise’s tradition of depicting damage modelling with accurate precision on every vehicle. For instance, a punctured tyre on the right rear of a rally car affecting that side of the car, although the player has the choice of easing off the accelerator to prevent the puncture from losing the tyre’s carcass as pushing the tyre to its normal limitations would increase the wear on a damaged tyre, while a rallycross car would provide a reaction that was distinctive in its feeling. Crashing into roadside barriers or obstacles during rally stages or colliding with competing vehicles during rallycross tracks will inevitably result in crumpling bodywork that is just as visceral to the car’s aesthetics than that of Dirt 4’s damage modelling as bodywork is strewn across the track; becoming a potential hazard on subsequent laps.
Dirt Rally 2.0’s handling is a mixed bag as some rally stages will feel reasonable, especially when taking place in dry conditions, while others are undeniably frustrating. For instance, on a wet road surface on the Vinedos Dardenya Inversa rally stage in Ribadelles, Spain sees every corner feel as though the steering wheel is not making the car point into the direction of the corner; resulting in ploughing straight into a roadside barrier, despite turning at least three times and braking more than early enough to make the corner. However, a little after halfway into the Vinedos Dardenya Inversa rally stage when there is not a roadside barrier; expect to not only leave the road, despite braking and turning in multiple times, but to rather infuriatingly receive a time penalty of around 15 to 20 seconds if you do not get the car turning in the direction of the road fast enough. Dirt Rally 2.0 is supposed to be more realistic in its approach in comparison to the other Dirt games, but when the easiest difficulty level makes no difference to the handling and the default car setup does not allow the player to necessarily always have belief in being able to win the rally stage almost as though it is pre-written that there is no chance of winning specific rally stages, then realism should not result in losing focus on entertaining gameplay. While on the subject of handling; let’s not lose sight of the fact that Dirt 4’s handling was technically realistic as it felt quite responsive and unique for each vehicle’s era and discipline. Unfortunately, rallycross cars also want to usually spin far too often regardless of dry or wet conditions; resulting in having to feather the throttle rather than being able to experience a more consistent pace in rally and rallycross. It is also worth mentioning that it is not just the historic cars, but also the much newer cars that want to step out at the rear of the car as often as possible, but also the fact that this occurs during the Freeplay mode with maximum car attributes instead of a pre-owned car with low grade car components; providing a random luck of the draw vibe to how the car will perform in at least some of the rally stages and rallycross events unless you are an expert at finding the sweet spot with your very own custom car setup.
Weather conditions includes sunny and dry, cloudy and a wet surface and heavy rain and a wet surface in which every weather condition changes the behaviour of your car such as how it handles at high speeds and through corners, while events can be scheduled to take place during the daytime or sunset, alongside some rally stages that occur during dusk; therefore reducing visibility to a point of needing the headlights.
There are half a dozen excellently positioned camera angles including two third-person perspectives positioned a little closer to the car and further away from the car; a first-person camera mounted to the front of the car looking ahead without showing any car bodywork; a camera located on the centre of the bonnet; and two interior views with the first of which positioned behind the steering wheel on the driver side of the dashboard and the other located around the driver’s line of sight with his hands on the steering wheel. Every interior and exterior viewpoint has the capability of being fully rotated around the car to provide genuine immersion as players can see more of the surrounding environments in greater detail at any angle or the location of a nearby car attempting to overtake you to assist in covering off their racing line. Camera angles can be adjusted by increasing or reducing camera shake on a 20 point slider, while the player can adjust their seating position that brings the camera positioning of the cockpit view from the driver’s line of sight gradually further forwards or backwards, upwards or downwards to the player’s personal preferences, alongside an additional customised element of the cockpit view to display the steering wheel without your driver’s hands and to remove the steering wheel entirely.
You can watch a full replay of the event that you have just driven on with the ability to rewind or fast forward in slow motion or quickly, pause, change the camera angles for a different view of the action and loop the replay back to the beginning to watch it all over again. You can view the replay from each of the half a dozen gameplay camera angles, alongside 3 further camera angles including a dynamic camera angle positioned away from the car amongst the scenery, a dynamic camera angle positioned with numerous angles around the interior of the car looking towards the driver and co-driver, from behind the driver and co-driver and looking ahead and from an overhead helicopter changing from camera to camera in the style of Gran Turismo, alongside an aerial view from onboard a helicopter that is reminiscent of WRC Powerslide. The player can also customise the replay’s presentation including a broadcast mode, a game watermark, a particular song, co-driver calls audio and displaying your time. Both third-person camera angles, alongside the first-person views without bodywork and from the bonnet can be moved to the left or right in order to view your car in more detail as well as the nearby scenery. It certainly would have been amazing to see such dynamic cameras make the transition to being playable as you are driving as it would further complement the experience, while it would have been the same sentiment if gameplay could have been played from the helicopter camera angle from high above the circuit following the action with the sound effect of the helicopter in the audio mix.
Dirt Rally 2.0 gradually features two seasons worth of downloadable content including rally cars, special liveries and a mixture of new and visually enhanced rally stages that are available via two season passes. Alternatively, the Deluxe Edition includes all content from both seasons, while players who own the standard edition or day one edition can purchase downloadable content individually or via season passes. Dirt Rally 2.0’s day one edition contains the Porsche 911 RGT Rally Spec, alongside early unlocks for the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally and Alpine Renault A110 1600 S.
It is disappointing to not see a Dirt game come to Vita given the quality of Codemasters’ Collin McRae Rally games released on PSP including Colin McRae Rally 2005 Plus and Dirt 2, although remote play is a consolation. Dirt Rally 2.0’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance is the same quality as the PS4 version which is an ethos that is complimented by the fully optimised remote play control scheme that sees accelerating re-mapped to R, braking mapped to L and looking back moved to tapping the bottom right of the touch screen; resulting in a very playable remote play experience.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller and are almost fully customisable. The default control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to apply the brake or reverse the car; pressing X to manually shift up a gear; pressing square to manually shift down a gear; pressing triangle to change the camera angle; pressing O to engage the handbrake; pressing R1 to switch the headlights on or off; pressing L1 to switch the windscreen wipers on or off; pressing down on the d-pad to recover your vehicle back to the track; pressing up on the d-pad to perform roadside repairs; moving the direction of the left analogue stick to the left or right to steer your car accordingly; moving the direction of the right analogue stick forwards, backwards, left or right to appropriately manoeuvre the camera angle to look in that direction; pressing R3 to look back; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Further control inputs that are not initially set to a particular button, but can be chosen by the player includes engaging the clutch for manual starts, a shortcut button for instantaneously selecting 1 of 7 gears or a reverse gear, adjusting your seat position and pushing to talk during online multiplayer.
Despite the customisable control scheme; there is no way of mapping the steering to the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality and the touch pad can only be mapped to once instead of the left and right sides having their own purpose. It is surprising as the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality could have provided an alternative steering method to the left analogue stick for players that do not have the luxury of owning the most recent steering wheels and pedals. Meanwhile, touch pad implementation is under utilised as it only used during replays, although there is no light bar support that could have produced a light shade of green to represent a healthy car and set of tyres gradually descending into dark green, yellow, orange and red to showcase a decline in your car’s health and quality of the tyres before flashing red to signify that your car cannot progress any further without a serious amount of repair. Vibration reflects acceleration on varying track surfaces such as the roughness of gravel, heavy landings after a long jump, crashing into other vehicles or trackside obstacles and increasing degradation of punctured tyres.
A range of steering wheels designed specifically for racing games on PS4 are supported including Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake; Fanatec ClubSport Pedals V1, V2 and V3; Fanatec ClubSport Shifter; Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel BMW GT2, Formula, Porsche 918 RSR and Universal Hub; Fanatec CSL Elite Pedals; Fanatec CSL Elite Racing Wheel; Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel McLaren GT3; Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel; Fanatec CSR Elite Pedals; Logitech G29 Racing Wheel; Thrustmaster 2-Pedal Pedal Set; Thrustmaster 599XX EVO 30; Thrustmaster BT LED Display; Thrustmaster F1; Thrustmaster Ferrari GTE; Thrustmaster T300 RS GT Edition; Thrustmaster Sparco R383; Thrustmaster T3PA Pedals; Thrustmaster T3PA Pro Pedals; Thrustmaster T80; Thrustmaster T150; Thrustmaster T300 RS; Thrustmaster T500 RS; Thrustmaster T-GT; Thrustmaster TH8A Shifter; Thrustmaster TM Leather 28 GT; and Thrustmaster TSS Handbrake Sparco Mod+.
Graphically, Dirt Rally 2.0’s car models, track surfaces, trackside details, lighting, shadows, lens flare, variable weather conditions ranging from the glare of the sun to rain droplets on certain camera angles, mud splattering onto the car’s bodywork and damage modelling rendering crumpling bodywork have improved a little in comparison to Dirt 4 and are superior to that of the first Dirt Rally. PS4 Pro and Xbox One X versions of Dirt Rally 2.0 are enhanced with the Xbox One X version confirmed to feature 4K and HDR support. Dirt Rally 2.0 does not support PlayStation VR at launch, although Codemasters has not ruled out implementing full virtual reality compatibility in the future as they did with the first Dirt Rally that received PlayStation VR compatibility 10 months after the first Dirt Rally’s original release on PS4.
Dirt Rally 2.0’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, freeplay mode menus, events menus, online career mode menus, online multiplayer menus, online community events, online leaderboards, options menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while tapping the touch pad opens the messages, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds include particle effects of dust flying around that can be partially directed by the right analogue stick upon the backdrop of a muddy road surface. Loading screens are particularly well presented as they outline the distance, elevation changes, start time, weather and surface types, alongside a top-down view of the rally stage or rallycross track.
Voice-overs include World Rallycross Championship commentator Andrew Coley producing a very interesting introduction to different eras of rallying within Historic Rally mode, game modes and gameplay elements. Elsewhere, Rally co-drivers representing various languages include Phil Mills as the English co-driver, alongside further voice-overs for the Spanish, Italian, Polish, German, French, Japanese and the Brazilian co-driver, although the late, great Colin McRae’s co-driver Nicky Grist does not return for Dirt Rally 2.0, despite being most recently featured in Dirt 4. Meanwhile, Rallycross spotters for varying languages include Nick Cole as the English spotter, alongside further voice-overs for the Spanish, Italian, Polish, German, French, Japanese and the Brazilian rallycross spotter. Sound effects include rally and rallycross cars accelerating as they shift through the gears, braking, jumping a distance with a heavy landing, flapping bodywork after crashing into another vehicle, trackside barriers or obstacles, a punctured tyre rattling against the surrounding bodywork and ambience such as weather conditions; accompanied by instrumental music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced the narrator’s voice-over when introducing gameplay elements during menus, alongside your co-driver’s reading of their pace notes throughout rally events and your spotter’s advice during rallycross events.
The trophy list includes 51 trophies with 38 bronze trophies, 10 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the A Household Name silver trophy for finishing a custom championship; the Adaptable bronze trophy for completing a rally stage in dry, overcast, rain and wet weather conditions; and the Fine Tuned bronze trophy for creating and saving your own tuning setup. Harder trophies include the Going the Extra Mile bronze trophy for taking two joker laps and winning a rallycross race; the Wheel Spin bronze trophy for winning 10 rally stages without using any assists; and the Don’t Knock My Line bronze trophy for spinning three times on a rally stage and win. Online multiplayer trophies include the Fire Up That Car…Again bronze trophy for finishing in the top tier of an Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 Daily in Community Events; the That’s Dedication bronze trophy for completing three Weekly Community Events; and various trophies for the online career mode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 25 to 40 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are five A.I. difficulty levels including very easy, easy, medium, hard and very hard that revolves around a slider ranging from 0 to 100 as very easy ranges from 0 to 30, easy from 31 to 60, medium from 61 to 80, hard from 81 to 90 and very hard from 91 to 100 that provides an ever increasing challenge with even more aggressive opponents in rallycross racing and more precise driving leading to faster times set by A.I. opponents in rally stages. There are also a variety of other options such as hardcore damage and unexpected moments, alongside driving assists including transmission, automatic vehicle repairs, launch control, stability control, traction control and more besides.
Despite Dirt 3 and Dirt Showdown being two of the most entertaining split-screen multiplayer racing games; Dirt Rally 2.0 follows on from Dirt Rally and Dirt 4 by not including split-screen multiplayer. In addition to the enforced online career mode; the Freeplay mode can be utilised to create and host or join an online custom championship including a mixture of rally stages and rallycross races for 2 to 8 players, while daily and weekly community events also return, alongside a choice of individual or multi-platform online leaderboards for each rally stage and rallycross track.
Freeplay mode provides a positive quantity of customisation, rally stages and eight rallycross tracks, alongside four Historic Rally tiers including three championships per tier, an entire rallycross mode and a time trial mode. Dirt 4’s Your Stage feature that created procedurally generated rally stages to produce infinite replay value is conspicuous by its absence. However, Dirt Rally 2.0’s always online career mode is a concerning point of contention as when the Racenet online servers are randomly offline for maintenance or potentially turned off in a few years for Dirt Rally 2.0; the only remaining portion of the game would be the Historic Rally mode and Freeplay mode, but unless you have an online subscription for online multiplayer then that is all the player is left with anyway.
• Title: Dirt Rally 2.0
• Developer: Codemasters
• Publisher: Codemasters
• System: PS4
• Format: Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1/2-8 (Online Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
• Hard Drive Space Required: 42.80GB (Version 1.02)