Review: Dirt 5

Dirt 5 is yet another Codemasters game within the rally simulation and arcade series that they have built up. This is mainly arcade gameplay, with an accessible entry. Can this game match the Codemasters name? Read it in our review.

Dirt 5 is out tomorrow, November 6, for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game will also get a better running version for both next-gen consoles, which can run up to 120fps at 4K. However, we are reviewing the game on the current-gen PS4. We'll update this review when the PS5 arrives! This is the arcade version, not to be confused with Dirt Rally, which is more in line with the simulation industry.

Career

Just to jump right in with the bigger mode in the game: Career! This is where you will ride from rookie to pro. You will go through this with Troy Baker and Nolan North, two voices I recognized instantly. This mode has 5 chapters, in which you are free to choose your own 'path'. But, of course you can play any race that your heart desires. You will visit different countries, with different seasons and places within that country. All maps look fantastic and some are more difficult to play than others. Each map has its own challenges, where you sometimes have to get a few seconds of air-time, or overtake someone in a drift. These are minimalistic on your screen and make the maps just that bit more dynamic and challenging.

What stands out most in the maps you play is the color palette. Dirt 5 is a very colorful game, something that brings out some architecture or cities better. The maps that were the coolest for me were those with an obvious setting, like China and America. In terms of playstyle, everything was fairly similar, except for a number of ice maps. By racing you can recruit sponsors like AMD, these give you money if you do your best in the races after. With this money you can quickly buy new cars and customize them until you drop. You can buy cars pretty quickly, which gives a little more room to customize. All custom skins can be bookmarked and swapped with each other on-the-fly.

There is little progression in the game other than sponsoring and buying new cars. This is actually quite unfortunate. I'll mostly play Dirt 5 if I just want to race a few rounds, but there are people who want to upgrade and unlock an arsenal of cars. It is therefore clear that the game mainly wants you to be able to race easily, with a high fun factor, without too much fuss.

Controls

Dirt 5 plays very accessible and therefore very smooth. It is a game that is very easy to play, while it can still be challenging. You can choose difficulties, where the highest will be real struggles. I finished the game on medium. This offered me enough challenge, while I could just sit back and play the game on the couch. You can hold the throttle almost constantly in some races, if you start drifting on time, while in other races you really have to brake in time due to tarzan turns or steep slopes. The AI is also quite smart, they know how to bully you if you are ahead. This made races that I played on hard sometimes really difficult, but that bit cooler. What is unfortunate is that the damage to your car remains superficial and mainly has a graphic impact.

Sound, Graphics & Performance

Car sounds are as you would expect from the Dirt games, where nothing groundbreaking happens. The music is top-notch and creates a nice atmosphere in menus and during races. Maybe I would have liked it better if I had a little more choice about the music, where Tony Hawk for example does this very well. Furthermore, the soundtrack is simply fantastic and varied. I can hardly comment on this.

Graphically, the game is a mixed bag. Dirt 5 is very colorful and has a lot of variety in maps, all of which look great. Still, there is something to be desired graphically on current-gen. But, I do understand the choices. You can even get 60fps on the base PS4, which I play on, with performance mode. The game will really look like you're playing it on a last-gen console, but you'll have the smoothest and most responsive experience. You also have fidelity mode, where you play at 30FPS, with the best graphics current-gen can offer the game. Normally I would immediately choose 60fps, but because I found the game so ugly in that mode, I chose fidelity mode. So the performance is great, but the graphics leave something to be desired.

Other modes

Dirt 5 has Playground, where you can create your own courses. Here you will find a lot of beautiful creations, or you can start your own! It's not for me to make jobs, but the menu in here looked extremely extensive. You also have Free Play and Multiplayer, which play as you expect them to play and work fine.

Verdict

Dirt 5 is a game with a high arcade level and an even higher fun factor. It is the racing game to pick up if you want to race next-gen and highly recommended for anyone who just wants to race, without fuss. The game is not perfect and is also quite shallow when it comes to progression, but seems to have found its place in the rally world. If you're after a racing game with a deep storyline, you're in the wrong here. But, the high fun factor, fine controls and challenging AI will keep you busy for hours. I can recommend it to any enthusiast!

 

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