Dirt 4 Review: One of the great summertime video games of the past decade
Dirt 4 has just one expectation of its players: Enjoy racing. It will take care of the rest.
Experienced, novice, casual, committed, car buff, adrenaline junkie or anything in between, Dirt 4 has a sweet spot for everyone and it takes no time to find it. The game’s most profound strength is the unlimited variety and replayability offered by a simple course creation tool, which is well suited to rally racing’s basic appeal: hurtling into something new and unknown with nerve, skill and flat-out speed.
Of course, it’s essential to a racing game that the driving action be distinct and understandable across multiple vehicles classes and numerous surfaces, from taut blacktop to waterslide mud and dry, pillow-soft, well, dirt. Codemasters has been so trustworthy in this duty that the handling and traction of Dirt 4 can almost be taken for granted.
The game offers two handling settings to accommodate racers: Gamer, a more forgiving setup, and simulation, which is more challenging. There are still perceptible differences in the vehicle handling and surface traction on the easier Gamer setting. Simulation showcases these differences more, but even in the casual setting I felt like I could bias the braking, front or back, in my pre-race adjustments and give myself — and meaningfully use — a little less steer on pavement or a little more on gravel.
Dirt 4’s fundamental appeal is in the reckless handling of rally racing, after all. The dirty secret of all racing video games is that folks coast into the turns, drift, and occasionally brake by hitting a wall or an opponent. Dirt 4 was a license to sling gravel through every turn of a rally course, counter-steering to my heart’s content. Hatchback door banging, shredded tire throwing sparks, exhaust farting in the turns like a wild pony, I still snipped the finish line in a respectable third place in Australia.
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