DiRT 5 - Review of Codemasters' explosive racing

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Codemasters get back on track with DiRT 5, explosive arcade car racing title which offers different driving experiences related to types of races such as Rally Raid, Ultra Cross events, Stampede, Sprint, Ice Breaker, aboard racing cars belonging to the most diverse classes such as Super Lite, Rally GT, Formula Off Road and ... running too much? Yes, we are running too fast! What else should we do when talking about DiRT 5? Maybe take your foot off the accelerator, stop the vehicle and tell you about the game from the beginning? Hmmm, from the direction they tell me that this would be the practice. I adapt, therefore: ladies, gentlemen, take a seat next to me with a view of a stormy sea that is stirring on the walls of an old lighthouse in the distance (or the scenario you choose, in case this does not excite you) and accept this beer frozen. The engine will remain warm for a few more minutes, just long enough to tell you what we think of the latest effort developed by the “Codies”. To yours!

DiRT 5 is the latest chapter in Codemasters' DiRT series (which until last year was stylized in "DiRT“), Not to be confused with the series DiRT Rally, currently stopped at version 2.0, which I was lucky enough to analyze thoroughly on these same pages (here the review, in case I have sparked your curiosity). DiRT 5 offers a large amount of events to carry out using various classes of vehicles, offering the player the opportunity to race on diabolical tracks marked by the most disparate road surfaces. These range fromasphalt to the gravel, also passing through (and on) huge sheets of ice that shatter with the passage of your tires and those of the opponents who will battle you to cross the finish line first. Well, we've taken a little overview of what DiRT 5 has to offer. Now, however, let's go into detail that we have some time at our disposal; the beer is ice cold, the engine is still warm, we don't let things reverse. Your attention to us!

DiRT 5 in numbers (and game modes)

DiRT 5 offers 76 circuits (the total takes into account the inverted versions) which will allow you to travel well 10 different locations around the world: from the colorful glimpses of a rain jungle in Brazil passing through dusty chicanes that wind through the ruins of ancient Roman aqueducts in Italy. The perfect aesthetic of the panoramas in China contrasts with the wild world of South Africa, while fire and ice alternate between the snow-covered sections of the Norway, the cold mountains of the Nepal and the vibrant reflections of the hot asphalt of the Morocco. Of United States instead it will be possible to visit the splendid expanses ofArizona and l 'Roosvelt Island, a narrow spit of land located in New York's East River. Depending on the type of road surfaces guaranteed by the various locations, it is possible to access the following tenders: Rally Raid, Ultra Cross, Land Rush, Stampede, Sprint, Ice Breaker. Basically it's always about having to cross the finish line before the others (up to a maximum of 12 cars can take part in the races), with the possibility of alternating races where a precise number of laps must be completed with others where it is required to run from point A to point B (as in the most classic of the formulas provided by the Rally, but with other opponents on the track) . There are a large number of cars all made with official licenses: from spear to the Fiat, Via Ford, Porsche, Mistubishi, Audi, Lotus, Exomotive and so on. There really is something for everyone. Cars are divided into various classes: Super Lite, Cross Raid, Formula Off Road, Rally GT, Rally Cross, Modern Rally, Classic Rally, 90's Rally and still others that we do not list all so as not to bore you (actually our thoughts go to the engine of the parked car, which starts to cool down. We have to hurry, damn it!).

DiRT 5 offers different game modes: the Career, Free Play, Time Trials, Online racing (Vampire, King e Transport will be available, by popular demand of the players) and thebrand new PlayGrounds mode. Before diving into Career let's take a quick look at all the other modes. The section Arcade, reachable from the main menu, offers Free Play modes and Time Trials. The latter are practically self-explanatory, while of the Free Game it is good to underline that the player is given the right to choose each track present in the game, immediately, then choosing the favorite car among those already available and those that, instead, must be purchased through i "Dirt Dollars"(Do not worry, it is one in-game currency that does not require real money to be collected; you accumulate it, in fact, simply by playing). PlayGrounds is a new mode, closely related to the powerful Arena Editor (and not tracks, attention), present in the game. We could summarize the matter by comparing everything to the colorful platform of Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet, where players are given the opportunity to create levels and then share them online. Here it is exactly the same: once an arena has been created where you can unleash all the horses of your racing cars, the latter can be shared online with players from all over the world who will fight to get the best time in the standings. The editor turns out to be very powerful: boasts an impressive amount of objects such as gates, descents, protective barriers, mounds of earth, rings, signs (even advertising billboards to make a scene!) through which you can create a sort of Explosive funfair for cars. In the PlayGround arenas it is possible to select three different game modes: Gate Crasher, where all the Checkpoints present must be crossed in the shortest possible time, Gymkhana (where each stunt yields points and whoever gets the most wins) e Smash Attack, where the drivers are asked to crash their cars on different "targets" positioned on the track. To ensure the quality of the tracks created and shared online in Playgrounds, the guys from Codemasters made it is mandatory to complete your creations at least once (demonstrating that, indeed, it is possible to complete the challenge).

Career mode: a new adventure

Career Mode offers the deepest experience of DiRT 5 and to accompany you in this new adventure you will find the voice of Troy Baker (in the guise - invisible - of that AJ). Nolan North he is instead present in the title as a voice actor for Bruno Durand, the pilot who will give you a hard time during the entire narrative arc. However, there is very little narration: only some audio communication from AJ and the final scenes that exclusively shoot the cars celebrated on the podium at the end of each race, to the notes of an adrenaline-fueled soundtrack composed by songs more than excellent like "Superlike" to the The Academy, "Mother" (The Amazonas) e "Magic Man" (The Sherlocks). All under the careful supervision of the podcast's Donut Media (real-world sponsor of some of the competitions offered in the game). The Career features a large number of races divided into Chapters, in which every different type of race is called upon to compete. In every single race it is possible obtain up to a maximum of 3 "Stamps" (see it as if they were Trophies): in addition to the victory of the event itself, in fact, the definitive Event Objectives are linked to each race; it is a series of secondary tasks to complete, some of which require a fair amount of skill, such as those that involve exceed a certain speed and then maintain the same speed (and don't go below it) for a precise amount of seconds.

Or again, you will be asked to make a rear-end collision while in the box after a jump or, to complete the roundup of examples, the need to make a series of overtakes in a given amount of time. If any of these goals prove too difficult to complete it will be possible to "update" the list of the proposed Event Objectives for that race, with others three new Random Achievements, at the cost of a few Dirt Dollars (again, it's just an in-game virtual currency that is collected by playing and that doesn't require you to use real money to get it). To therefore enter a new Chapter (then to a new set of races) you will need to have unlocked a certain amount of Stamps.

At the end of each race proposed in Career Mode they are obtained money, experience points, reputation points e cosmetic items. Money makes it possible buy new car models which, unfortunately, they can only be modified aesthetically. It is not possible to apply no mechanical improvements to the car owned, therefore to go faster you simply have to change cars, choosing a more performing one. The reputation points, on the other hand, are closely linked to yours relationship with the Sponsor chosen to face the Career which can also be modified during the race, at the end of each Chapter. Each Sponsor offers a different economic agreement: should you decide to change it in favor of a different brand (obviously to increase revenue), know that you will lose the reputation points collected up to that point, in that given Chapter. Loyalty to a brand will be rewarded instead through the free release of new aesthetic elements (and there are so many of them, including Stickers, Liveries and - even - graphic effects for your driving license). Finally, for the first time in the series, Codemasters has added the ability to play in Split-Screen for up to 4 players. A truly moving choice for all those who love to play at home, against other friends, in person, in perfect 90s style (respecting the measures provided by the DCPM, however, promise ?!). OK, that's enough. You are now lost watching the waves hit the damn lighthouse, we need to let your adrenaline flow. So follow us… Let's get on the track!

The engine that the hood hides

The technical and gameplay sectors of DiRT 5 are of the highest level, we say it immediately at the beginning of the paragraph, to explain now, instead, how we came to this conclusion. The title offers first and foremost two different video modes: one designed to give priority to frame rate stability (therefore to the fluidity of the image) whose value is nailed to 60fps, the other dedicated to pure image quality on screen, reducing the frame rate to 30fps. We have thoroughly analyzed both video modes and can safely say that as the graphic quality increased we did not find any fatigue of the engine that supports every pixel, every shadow, every reflection. Everything flows smoothly and damn nice to see thanks (also) to the use of beautiful and convincing particle effects that draw dust on the screen (when it is moved by the wind, how wonderful!), gravel, snow, ice, water. The DiRT 5 tracks are alive, crammed with detail at every corner and boast, in my opinion, the most beautiful surfaces ever seen in a driving game. Each terrain appears incredibly realistic to the eye. In Ice Breaker mode it is pure spectacle to find yourself racing on tracks that are, in fact, immense sheets of ice that crack and flood with water every chicane, and the situation worsens with each new lap, forcing the driver to pay more and more attention in drawing each curve.

Steering wheel (or controller) in hand DiRT 5 is a pure concentrate of fun in pure Arcade style which, moreover, boasts a very particular attention to the design of the drift trajectories: at the precise moment in which you have to face a "U" curve the title seems to "activate" a simulation mode which was not suspected to exist, allowing total control of the car. This detail, which is not a simple detail, allows you to perform incredibly satisfying maneuvers, a moment before returning to take a door as if there were no tomorrow, without suffering any kind of penalty. We then find ourselves enveloped again by the most classic Arcade-style gameplay when we discover that, unfortunately, the only damages present are those of an aesthetic and non-mechanical type. The deformation of the bodywork is of excellent workmanship, but it is really a pity that we cannot suffer other kinds of consequences after disastrous off the track. Fortunately, the pace of play is so high and pleasant that you will soon forget about this lack (provided you can bear it from the beginning, of course). Particularly convincing also the behavior of the AI ​​that does not tend to create sterile "trains" of cars that do not wait for the moment in which they will be overtaken. At the highest difficulty levels (but already at the intermediate ones, to be honest) the races will be at the limits of a race for survival, with continuous doors and maneuvers at the limits of the regulation (which is non-existent). I have also noticed that in some cases the AI ​​intentionally hits the player's car, as if it were able to have a memory of some wrong suffered during the race in the previous laps, an element that adds an additional sense of challenge to already very races. fought and thrilling.

DIRT 5 ultimately presents itself as a splendid arcade racing title with unexpected (but welcome) attention to the design of the cornering trajectories. The frenzied pace, the explosion of colors on the screen, the large number of game modes, environments and tracks present ensure many hours of fun. The graphic engine and the technical sector in general of high profile demonstrate a great deal of attention from Codemasters to this series, which continues to improve chapter by chapter.

The tested version is that PlayStation 4 and I can't imagine a better racing title for whiz away at 200km / h on the sunset boulevard of the current generation of consoles. We therefore remember that what you have read is dedicated exclusively to this generation, and that the analysis of the game for the next gen will come only later.

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Dirt 5 is shown with several gameplay sequences captured from Xbox Series X ❯
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