Our Dirt 5 review: everything you need to know

Who I am
Philippe Gloaguen
@philippegloaguen
Author and references

If you are looking for the perfect driving technique, braking to the centimeter or you love to worry about a puncture or irreparable mechanical damage, Dirt 5 is not the title for you. But if you are looking for dirt, mud, ice, unexpected showers, doors, jumps, curves with handbrake on and you want nothing more than to get to the finish line first, leaving aside all the technicalities and dynamics of a rally race, give us a thought.

Dirt 5 is in fact a title that, in my view, contains elements that we have already been able to try in other arcade driving games, both in the generation that has just ended, and in the previous ones but which leads them, however, to technical exasperation. But no more chatter and here you are my full review!



Already seen or maybe not?

From my point of view, if you have played them, they cannot help but recall moments of the game already seen and experienced on games like MotorStorm, Drive Club, Wreckfest and, of course, Onrush. Many elements, from the driving model, to the dynamism of the tracks, up to the sub-objectives present during the race, immediately bring to mind those titles.

All this because Dirt 5 is nothing more than a work developed by Codemasters and embellished by the experience brought to the team by some of the developers of the aforementioned games, such as the developers of Evolution Studios who, after the underrated Onrush, have re-proposed a game characterized by a strong adrenaline and anything but simulative. As for the fight against time, it is good to point out that the races are not against the clock, at least in most cases. Only a few events push you to fight against the latter while, in almost all competitions, there are eleven opponents to compete against.



Many events around the world, even in Italy!

La single player mode therefore it consists of a sort of path that will lead us to face (if we want to complete it in its entirety) more than 130 events, located in 10 different countries, including Italy, with a particular focus on the Carrara area and the 'Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Everything is structured according to a very precise branching that allows the player to be able to face, if he wishes, even just one event per step, progressing up to Main Event, in which it is required to qualify in the first three places to move on to the next tournament.

The protagonist of the game is a pupil of AJ, a positive champion of the game who, in addition to thinking about his career and the various rivalries with other pilots, has in his heart the goal of making budding pilots grow. The story is carried on through The Dirt Podcast, a series of audio episodes (often very long to listen to) which have as conductors two real podcasters such as James Pumphrey e Nolan Sykes.

The number of events varies according to which of the five chapters you are playing: starting from the first, Ignition, which contains a dozen, up to the last, Red Zone, which is spread over thirty races, each event has its own internal 3 mini-objectives, which are repeated often, such as going over an X speed for a certain number of seconds, overcoming a certain number of opponents within a certain time, crossing the finish line in reverse, or jumping and bumping into opponents. By completing these mini objectives you will get certain "stamps", useful for unlocking liveries, gaining reputation and consequently game credits. Note a strange fact that, even if you do not complete any of the three competition objectives, and still finish first, you will still receive the maximum of stamps.



Among the car manufacturers present in the game, we find our own Fiat and Lancia, with the models of the 131 Abarth Rally, 124 Abarth Rally, Lancia 037 Evo 2 and the beautiful (in my view) Lancia Stratos, along with all the other most famous brands in the sector, such as Ford, Peugeot, Subaru, Mitsubishi, various Aston Martins, up to the American buggies, trucks and sprint cars (without a license, ed). Also worth mentioning is one of the first electric Off Roads SUVs, theAudi AI TRAIL Quattro, presented in Frankfurt in 2019. The statistical differences between one medium and another are finally represented by only two items such as performance and maneuverability, with values ​​ranging from C to S.

Among the types of races available to us, we find the classic races on asphalt, mud, ice, dirt circuits (Stampede, Rally Rush and Ultra Cross), sprint races on oval circuits (Sprint), races starting at point A and ending. in point B (Land Rush), solo climbs (Path Finder) and Gymkhana, a mode taken from Dirt 3 in which you have to make certain evolutions in small circuits such as jumps, breaking through obstacles and within a certain time. Again, for the single player, we have the mode Playgrounds which recalls, to the most attentive, a sort of TrackMania.

This mode represents a kind of great track editor where the user can give vent to their creativity and create any type of path with any type of obstacle, ramp, checkpoint and other surrounding elements. Basically you have to choose between three modes, the theme of the route and then insert the type of obstacles mentioned above. Once everything is finished, you can try it locally or load the track on the game browser, based on the Racenet platform. In this way your homemade attraction can be played and evaluated by users from all over the world.



Finally we also find a real online mode, where, however, the possibilities of choice are not many. We have the quick race against other users and then the possibility of creating and searching public lobbies where it is possible to set certain and particular events, such as Vampire station, in which we have to escape from the vampire car and not get "bitten", the King type, a sort of flag stealer and the Transporter mode, almost similar to King. In any case, the experience points earned in these modes will be added to those of the single player.

Graphics, including splashes of mud and lightning in the distance

The graphic engine with which the game was developed represents an advanced mode of what has characterized Onrush, with all the pros and cons of the case. From a purely aesthetic point of view, even on PlayStation 4 Standard (the one used in the review phase) nothing negative can be said. The title is a riot of colors, of light effects with a beautiful rendering of atmospheric effects, both near the car and those in the background. Sandstorms, lightning and thunder, sudden blizzards are a feast for the eyes and it can happen, in this case, to distractions of all sorts.

The tracks on the snow and on the ice then have that something extra, appearing in a very balanced way between details and lighting effects. In the same events then, the dynamic weather, a characteristic of this title, it brings moments of skidding and rearrangement during the race; something positive that aims to break a rhythm that, at low levels of difficulty, can easily translate into boredom. Also from this point of view, finally, the sandstorm in Morocco is truly sublime in terms of yield.

The cars and all the vehicles are all reproduced very well, with the high view (the third person view), we can admire all the details of the bodies and how they are soiled during the race. Also excellent light reflections on the car, except perhaps in night races with artificial light where, it happened, that they appeared anyway as a flash, even in darker areas without any kind of artificial light.

The devil is in the details (and the interior)!

Putting aside the positive notes just expressed, what has left me a little perplexed are the surrounding details, the background of some of the tracks, the damage to the bodywork and the interiors. As for the former, it is impossible not to notice the lack of care for the public on the track. The elements are repeated, without particular distinction from race to race, and without responding to the weather forecast of that specific track. Also, but this is a problem that we could already find in Dirt Rally 2.0, the fans always move the same way, no matter what happens on the track.

As said however, the tracks as a whole are fantastic. All characterized in a particular way and all uniquely representative of the host nation. If by pure chance you do not pay attention to the country in which the event takes place in the pre-race, just after the start, thanks to the vegetation, the surrounding monuments, the mountains in the background, the houses and buildings that surround the course, we can try to guess at what latitude of the globe we are.

What is missing, compared to the previous Codemasters rally game, however, are the details on the actual track. Funds in soil are often kneaded, not very detailed. If it is true that the particle effects are excellent and if it is true that splashes of water, snow or stones rise from the rear wheels of the car, it is also true that what remains on the ground is all confused and does not show changes despite the many cars that pass several times at that point.

If, on the other hand, we are talking about cosmetic damage, we have to take ten steps back

On works even from the previous generation, such as Grid for PS3, the damage was much more realistic even if the game continued to have an arcade soul. Here the damages are present but minimal. Being an arcade, from a mechanical point of view, they are useless: no damage will undermine the driving experience. However, the problem also lies in screen playback. We can crash into a tree at 160km / h that the deformation at the point of impact will be minimal. It happens very, very rarely that the car loses parts on the road. And it happens, alas, regardless of the type of shot.

Sore point then, as far as I'm concerned, the reproduction of the interior. If at the moment of the choice the game allows you to see the interiors and these appear hyper-defined, once the green light is turned on and one of the two internal cameras is chosen, the situation is very different. In addition to having a POV to fix, as even with the view with your hands on the wheel, it seems to be too close to it, the polygonal models are, without a doubt, too sketchy.

Compared to Dirt Rally 2.0, it almost seems to be dealing with two generations of previous consoles. Poor details, anonymous reproductions, dull colors, lack of detail in the control cockpits of the cars, all boring. And even worse: the uselessness of the rear-view mirrors of the car, both the rear one at the top and the two side ones, as they do not reproduce what happens behind. To understand what we have behind, you have to press the appropriate button: very uncomfortable to practice when choosing the view with the steering wheel.

The peculiarity of the game is to offer the user the possibility to select or maximum graphics performance or greater stability regarding frames per second. This thing can only be done before the event starts: as far as I'm concerned, on PS4 Standard, the choice has always fallen on maximum graphics performance. In reality, if it is true that the details decrease, especially the reflections, the fluidity worsens.

Incredible but true but in fps mode, there were many moments in which the phenomenon of stuttering appeared, with continuous slowdowns and shots especially in the initial phase, where there were many cars together or during overtaking on corners. Finally, a side note the presence of the Photo Mode. To activate it, you have to pause the game (there are no replays) and once inside this setting, you can indulge yourself with different modes, moving the lights, choosing the seasons, the times of the day, focal length of the camera, and so on. has more metta. Undoubtedly a painstaking work for lovers of in-game shots.

Turning instead to the audio sector, we can say that engine sampling is very good. After a few hours of play it is easy to remember the noise of that particular engine. Using headphones it is also possible to hear different tones depending on the chosen camera, with a clear difference between a distant external camera and the one inside the passenger compartment. The barrels and vents of the turbines were also very well developed when changing gear, with remarkable precision especially for 90s cars, characterized by unforgettable turbines for lovers of the genre.

As for the music instead, we find a respectable playlist, with the presence of different artists and musical groups, all close to the rock world, among which, among the most famous, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, In addition to The Killers and New Found Brothers.

Pad in hand

As in any self-respecting driving game, the driving system does the bulk. We have repeated to the end that it is an arcade for which everything related to the simulation does not exist. The cars, however, net of extremes of the type of driving, have their why and their differences. I'm not talking about marked differences, a car that weighs 1300 kg jumps and drifts which is a beauty but, comparing the cars with each other, there are small differences.

If the first available and already unlocked are a bit all the same, when you get to be able to afford cars with more horsepower (after not too long), the difficulty of managing the vehicle begins to increase. The differences in the driving model of the Mini Cooper SX1 compared to the Aston Martin DBX (my favorite) are clear, as is the difference between the Audi IA TRAIL Quattro (which seems glued to the ground, regardless of the type of surface) compared to to the Ford F-150 Raptor. In the last few chapters, except in the case in which you decide to play at a “very easy” level, it became necessary to try the circuit two / three times to understand which car is most suitable for that type of route.

The response of the car on dirt is identical to that on wet or ice

The curves are set in the same way, the "braking point" (for what you need in an arcade) is always the same. Another thing is the complete indifference between covered and uncovered vehicles. In case you choose to use the latter, don't be afraid to "flap", as the fact of having wheels without protections does not affect the game. The races where things seem to change slightly are those on the ice where, however, it is not the car that responds differently but it is the opponents who, without touching the level of difficulty, tend to be stronger.

In fact, by choosing a higher difficulty level, the opponents tend to be more aggressive but will still have a guide, regardless of the vehicle, too precise when they are far from our car. Perhaps a greater balance in this sense would have been appropriate. In the medium difficulty levels, on the other hand, there is a strong elastic effect: you can easily reach the opponents in front and start the fight and, on the contrary, when you are ahead, a half error is enough to find the other pilots immediately on your heels. The game also offers the possibility to change some parameters such as the feedback of the pad, to insert or not the assisted braking, to select the ABS, the traction control and the management of the drift. In reality, the difference between using and not using these aids is almost minimal and does not change the way you drive much.

Steering wheel? No thanks

After activating the steering wheel from the console dashboard, since it is not possible to do this from the in-game settings, any type of button mapping disappears. The pad keys are no longer present on the screen and each button is named as a “button” followed by a progressive number. So mapping the steering wheel according to your taste becomes very complicated. Apart from that, the situation unfortunately does not improve even on the track.

With the steering wheel, even making a slight trajectory adjustment brings the car into strong understeer

As soon as the steering wheel is turned a few degrees, the wheels come to the limit, as does the screen steering wheel, when using the inner chamber. Consequently, even making a slight trajectory adjustment causes the car to strongly understeer and therefore slow down its speed a lot. Even playing at the lowest difficulty level becomes impossible: another very boring thing is the fact that if you want to go back to using the pad, you can do it at the same time but you can no longer deactivate the steering wheel. At that point, even using the pad, the aforementioned bug remains. Even with the pad it will be enough to touch the left analog for a very short time to send the wheels all on one side or the other.

It should be noted, however, the intention, put in writing, of the release in a few weeks of the patch 2.0 which will lead to the resolution, according to them, of these incompatibility problems with the various steering wheels, problems that have infuriated the community a lot.

USEFUL INFO

I played the title on PlayStation 4 and LG 4UH43V 620K TV for about 20 hours. I tried to play with the Thrustmaster T150 wheel, completing all available races and proposed challenges.

Duration
  • If you only complete the races necessary to get to the final event, about 8 hours
  • To complete everything, collecting all the required stamps, at least 25/30 hours
Structure
  • Single Player Career Mode
  • Playgrounds mode in Single Player and Online
  • Split Screen mode, up to 4 players locally
  • Online mode, with different types proposed, from the simple race to the Vampire, King and Transporter modes
Collectibles and Extras
  • 21 Trophies, of which 1 platinum, 8 gold, 6 silver and 6 bronze
  • More than 300 stamps to collect to unlock stickers, liveries and increase reputation
Game Card
  • Game Name: Dirt 5
  • Release date: November 6, 2020
  • Platforms: Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
  • Dubbing language: Italian
  • Texts language: Italian

Net of everything, Dirt 5 remains a fun game for me, an excellent pastime that does not need great insights into the knowledge of the cars, the engine, the various setups. It is a game that, if taken as hit and run, allows you to play at least four / five races and have fun in just thirty minutes. Graphically it manages to bewitch, net of small defects, it can be dealt with in a hasty way but, if you want, you can dedicate a few more hours just to get to have that particular type of livery or emblem glued there, on the hood of the car. . For me it is the maximum expression, with current technology, of all those off-road games that accompanied us in the 90s and 00s and brings to maximum power even all those small features with which we have identified individual arcade games, or almost. , of the last two generations of consoles.

Review by Francesco Margheriti
Graphics

Vehicle fleet excellently characterized on the outside, much less on the inside, almost sketchy. Stunning lighting effects, especially in graphics performance mode, plus particle on the track that are a joy to behold. FPS mode which, however, also presents a strong stuttering, inexplicably.

87
SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

Extensive musical list that goes well with the genre. Very positive sound fidelity of the engines, dubbing in the norm.

85
GAMEPLAY

Those looking for the arcade, will have bread for their teeth. You cannot go further. Speed, collisions, jumps, drifts, the driving difference between all the proposed vehicles is not always clear, however various and different from each other. You turn on the console, start the game and run without worries.

82
Total Rating scale
84
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