DiRT 4
DiRT 4

It's been two years since we saw Dirt Rally - but it's safe to say Codemasters have plenty of experience when it comes to rally titles.

More and more titles fit into a two-year cycle and, while some give us entirely new experiences, others feel like more of an upgrade. DiRT 4 ticks both of those boxes at the same time.

Graphically it doesn't feel like a fully-fledged release, with some foliage and trees having a very artificial feeling to them. Although there's a real showcase when hurtling down the track on a foggy evening, racing through the forest on a warm summer’s day is somewhat less enjoyable.

Thankfully, though, there have been some major improvements. Presentation has been refined, menus simplified and everything just feels so much more accessible.

DiRT 4
DiRT 4

In Vehicles you can view your current garage, see what's on offer at the dealership, or check classified listings for bargains on cars.

 You'll want to spend a little time in My Team. After setting up your team name, colours, car decal style and such, you'll also find options to get some staff which better help your progression as well as sponsors who prove a healthy income generator.

Facilities and Staff can all be upgraded, allowing more sponsors, more cars in your garage and additions such as a VIP lounge to improve potential new recruits, or a workshop which brings down the cost of repairs.

All of these upgrades, staff and vehicles are acquired using in game credits (Cr), rewarded for just about every event.

DiRT 4
DiRT 4

Under Events, you'll find Career, packed with events covering various disciplines. Rally and Historic Rally are pretty similar, and likewise the circuit track based Land-rush and Rally cross modes offer a similar head-to-head option.

With all of the disciplines housing a number of events, the differences between each selection of events comes down to which vehicles you'll use. There's a wide selection from ten different classes, ranging from karts, buggies and trucks to cars including Ford, Opel and Mitsubishi.

It's not as story driven as some titles, but there's a satisfying feeling of accomplishment every time you cross the finishing line.

Aside from the Career mode, Competitive lists daily, weekly and monthly events for you to compete against other players. It's a way of extending the challenge far beyond the career mode.

Freeplay gives you the chance to create your own championship, with a new endless selection of automatically generated routes dependent on your chosen location, length and difficulty.

With DiRT academy giving plenty of options and challenges for mastering your car control, and Joyride lightening the mood with time attack, smash attack and free roam modes, there's more than enough to keep you going.

DiRT 4 is easily one of the most enjoyable racing experiences I've had.

DiRT 4
DiRT 4

After a brief practice session I was soon winning events with fast, accurate racing which I'd often struggle to achieve. Once you've got to grips with the car you'll find yourself hitting green on even the toughest sections.

Lighting also plays a big part in your racing. Broad daylight might not provide the best scenery but it allows you the chance to spot any small hazards.

It all adds up to a very impressive driving experience. While Forza can claim the track racing crown, there's no better feeling of rally racing than DiRT 4.

Audio is mostly superb, although I'm not a fan of overbearing engine sounds, so they were toned down a little after the first few races.

An impressive soundtrack features artists such as Alex Clare and Bastille.

For some, DiRT 4 might feel like more of an upgrade than a completely new game. But the refined controls, presentation and gameplay set the bar to a new height.

There's plenty of core racing, while multiplayer and regular new competitive events mean you'll never be short of a challenge.

Bottom Line : 

DiRT 4 just seems to do almost everything right: how you access the game, how the cars feel and the achievement when you hurl down a long, winding road taking turns faster than you'd imagine possible.

DiRT 4 isn't just a great rally game, it's the best I've played in many many years.

 

Gameplay: 9.5/10.

Graphics: 8.5/10.

Sound: 9.5/10.

Story: 8.5/10.

Value: 9.5/10.

Overall: 9.1/10.