More specifically, how disappointed I am in it. I’m glad I waited for it to go on sale half off instead of at launch for $60. It was not a worthy successor to what is easily my single favorite racing game.

DiRT Rally was a visceral experience. The handling and sound design were so excellent that you felt in tune with the car even through a dualshock controller. I was able to feel the weight transfer, the tires digging in, the heft of the car pushing its way around the corner, hear the spray of gravel behind the car as I power out of a slide. I could actually feel the front end pushing outwards or the back coming around. It was about as connected with the road as you can get through a computer screen. It was the next best thing to being in that car. Driving in Rally was so immensely satisfying.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when they announced DiRT 4. Every dev update was just better and better news. They weren’t going to dumb it down and make it more “accessible”! They were going to keep a special handling mode just for enthusiasts! Infinite procedurally generated tracks! Hype! Hype! Hype!

I was super excited once all 34 gigabytes of it finished downloading. I couldn’t contain myself as the game launched. I made sure I had the handling mode set to “Simulation” before I did anything else. This was going to be amazing!

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The first event loaded and... oh.

Oh my.

I was faced with cars that were floaty and just wafted over the ground with no noise except the engine and some gravel plinks. You have no clue what the wheels are doing at any given moment, and the cars have no weight in the corners. You can’t feel the grip ebbing and flowing like in Rally. It just toggles between “full grip“ and “no grip”. There’s a disconnect between the controller and the events transpiring onscreen.

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An actual video of car handling in DiRT 4 (image credit to First We Feast)

None of the Rally carryover cars drive like they did in the previous game. The A110, instead of having that intense mechanical grip of a RR car, just smears its tires across the pavement like they were made of ChapStick. The 2001 Focus instantly (as in like 0.5 seconds) flips around the moment you start applying brakes. The Group B cars drive like a pat of butter on a hot griddle.

Might as well be the same game.

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You know what this handling model feels like? Richard Burns Rally. Coming hot off a game that was as sensational to drive as Rally was, the DiRT team went and made a game that feels like one launched 13 years ago.

The procedural stages are a joke too. Yes, it’s truer to the real rally experience this way, but none of the stages feel like real roads. I can’t quite put my finger on why but they just don’t. You know those corners/complexes/setpieces that make you go “Woah, I can’t believe I just took that section so smoothly, that was so cool!”? DiRT 4 has none of those. The stages are homogeneous and monotonous. Every corner feels the same. I want my lovingly handcrafted environments back, please.

Compare these two videos. Pay attention to the sound and the scenery. The first one is Rally, the second one is 4:

Why are the brakes louder than the sound of driving on gravel at 80mph?

Which one seems more immersive? The one that has you plunging down a rough logging trail through a dense forest? Or the one that’s just sort of a ribbon of gravel laid on top of some terrain?

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Tl:dr; slick menus and cool cars don’t make up for what’s yet another arcade racer aimed at people who aren’t actually that into cars.

I uninstalled DiRT Rally to make room for this?

About the author

EssExTee, Prince of All Things Irrelevant

You probably shouldn’t take anything EssExTee says seriously. Unless it turns out you should? I dunno.

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