Their F1 games were constantly ridden with bugs and glitches. DiRT Showdown was a turd nobody wanted. Toybox Turbos was ten years too late. Colin McRae Rally HD was a port of a mobile phone game that caused immense backlash on Steam. Codemasters, at one point earlier this year, were a literal backmarker whose future was in jeopardy. However, we were told directly about DiRT 4 by EuroGamer in January, even down to the early-access release Codemasters was planning. And even as DiRT 4 profiler settings mysteriously appeared in new NVIDIA driver updates, it was passed off as a profiler preset for DiRT 3: Complete Edition. Nobody, including us, would have guessed that these guys were sitting around building Richard Burns Rally 2.
DiRT Rally, something we will probably come to know as DiRT 4 in the future, landed on Steam today. Unlike the previous entries in the DiRT series, which featured shoe salesmen poorly attempting to sound like 90’s skateboarders in a flurry of triangles and Monster Energy decals, DiRT 4 is Richard Burns Rally 2.
I’m serious, just watch the following video I recorded a couple hours ago:
And then the real thing:
Despite being in Steam’s often-loathed early access state, DiRT 4 graced us today with 17 cars and 36 stages spanning three environments – England, Monte Carlo, and Greece. Already the game has a robust Career mode complete with team management, vehicle upgrades, detailed car setup adjustments, shakedown stages, proper repair rules, online leagues & leaderboards, and competent AI. The game is more or less done, Codemasters appears to need the community’s input on what cars and tracks to add next. Personally, I think they probably need a bit more $$$ to keep the project going, but what they’ve got so far is so utterly fantastic that in the end I don’t really care with an AAA developer going this route.
It drives as if I’m playing RSRBR 2015 with a distinct separation between tire behavior and chassis behavior. In some corners, you can feel the mechanical grip keep you on the road, and in others, the four round pieces of rubber at all corners of the car prevent you from smashing into the trees. My driving style from Richard Burns Rally, one I’ve refined over the years throughout many different iterations of the RSRBR megamod, instantly transferred over. The more stages I run in DiRT 4, the more I prefer what Codemasters has done to physics refined by the RBR modding community over the past decade.
A couple people have complained that the Force Feedback is downright terrible. I use a DFGT, and my in-game FFB settings were 30/10/0, and 540 degrees of rotation & 30% centering spring in the Logitech profiler. It really felt no different than what I was used to with RSRBR, although Codemasters put in an extra layer of depth that was noticeable the more I pushed the various cars I drove.
The car roster consists entirely of carry-overs from DiRT 3, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The two cars I spent the most time with today were the Lancia Delta S4 and the 2011 Ford Fiesta. Both cars ran identical times on the Pant Mawr stage yet drove in completely different styles. The Delta S4 was constantly sideways and could be driven entirely with your right foot, whereas the Fiesta was cold, calculated, and didn’t build up speed as easily. I put a few laps into the 80’s BMW as well, and it was absolutely wild. Could not believe something like this came from Codemasters.
And they finally got stage design right as well. A big complaint I’ve had with all rally games in general is that the stage design has always been atrocious. This has been rectified, and then some. Every special stage is narrow as hell and there are an abundance of trackside objects to bounce off of. It’s unforgiving to the extreme, in some cases moreso than RBR, and I’ve enjoyed reading the Steam comments of whiny casuals trying to play this with the keyboard. Protip: You can’t.
So far, my only issues, and maybe suggestions, are minor fixes. The AI needs to be a bit quicker for us Aliens. We need the ability to make custom liveries for ourselves via image editing software. And even though Codemasters is working on it, some of us would greatly appreciate being able to hear our co-driver. I hope the Open class cars from DiRT 3 return, although from what the EuroGamer article at the beginning of this post states, it seems licenses are the only obstacle in the way. Would be nice to see some classic Codemasters liveries return as well, such as Team Dalikfodda and the Texaco pre-order skins from DiRT 3. Other than that, wow. If you’ve played Richard Burns Rally at any point in the past decade and have fond memories of it, go buy this game.