Back from a 3 year hiatus, DiRT Rally 2.0 has finally arrived with its signature, simulator rally gameplay that will challenge even the most dedicated of racing fans.  Now if you’re familiar with this long-running and iconic series (especially if you’ve been around since the Colin McRae Rally days), then you will know that this game will almost certainly test your patience.  But as any fan of the series will know, that is all part of the DiRT journey and when you finally click with how a rally car handles on a particular terrain, then there are not many racing games quite as satisfying as DiRT Rally 2.0.

Upon playing my first 30 minutes or so, as with almost every time I play a game in this series, it really tested my patience.  I was spinning off easy corners, crashing into barriers, tumbling the car and more!  If I was a person that would give up easily, I would have put DiRT Rally 2.0 hidden away after a mere 15 minutes.  However, as they say “patience is a virtue” and if you get over that initial barrier (not the kind you crash into), DiRT Rally 2.0 soon becomes one of the most addictive and rewarding racing games on the market.

Not only does each car handle differently, but there can be quite the drastic change in each and every one of them, especially when you leap from a classic 1970’s Rally Car into something from the modern era.  And that’s yet again a great testament from the fantastic work done by the developers at Codemasters.  Each car is created from the ground up with their own unique identities and personality’s in-tact, and the reason being is that professional consultants are brought in to ensure that every car feels as authentic as possible.  Then when you throw the varied terrain into the mix, from country roads, sandy deserts, rocky mountains and more, you’ll feel that DiRT Rally 2.0’s authenticity runs far deeper then the wonderfully crafted cars at your disposal.  Mastering both the cars and the elements is a joy in itself that will continue to bring you back for more.

In terms of modes, there is plenty on offer.  For starters, you can choose to play one of two main career modes in either traditional Rally or Rally Cross to compete against other AI racers on the track.  Whichever discipline you decide to play first, much like the previous DiRT Rally, you will have a team to help you along the way.  From your co-driver, engineers and more, managing your team will be vitally important in the long run.  As you win events and earn money, you can train up your team (aka level-up), so that they become more competent and as a result, it will make your career process a little easier to progress.  So make sure that you don’t go spending all your prize money on expensive cars and be sure to invest wisely in your team mates.

Personally I’ll always favour the traditional Rally event, as there’s something special about it being just you on the circuit going from A to B and glancing over in the corner of your eye to see if you’ve beaten your opposing AI’s time as a sector turns from Red to Green.  This in my opinion is the more challenging mode, as not like some other racers; there is no rewind feature here, though you can have up to 5 restarts if you wish.  Which to be honest, during my early moments, I was using those restarts like there’s no tomorrow.

Outside of the career modes, you can also partake in the officially licensed FIA World Rally Cross Championship.  Now I won’t pretend to know anything about the real-world teams and drivers of the rallying world, because I simply do not have a clue, but speaking from experience playing other sport based video games, having almost any form of official license based upon your beloved sport will always earn some plus points.  The FIA WRC Championship plays similar to that of the unlicensed championship, only in this mode, you will be joining an official team of your choice to race against real-world drivers, with all the added bells and whistles that one would expect from an official license.

However, that is not all for the modes that DiRT Rally 2.0 has in store, because there is the Historic Championship events, in which you can playout some championships from the bygone era taking the wheel in some truly iconic rally cars.  We also have Daily and Weekly events that can earn you plenty of bonus in-game cash to buy new cars for your garage or to invest in improving your career team.  Then you have the traditional Time Trial mode, as well as Custom mode, that allows you to choose any cars or locations that you want and challenge other players online, or offline to fine tune your skills.

Visually, this game is an absolute treat on the eye.  Sure it’s not to the level of a game such as Gran Turismo Sport, but not many console racers are, but this is without a doubt the best looking rally game that I’ve played and most certainly one of the best looking racing games period.  The wetter the circuit, the better this game looks as you leave tire tracks in the mud and dirt splats up the side of your car, with the rain pouring down on your windscreen.  Playing on the PS4 Pro, for which DiRT Rally 2.0 is supported, this game looks simply stunning at times.  However, if I was going to have one criticism with the visuals, is that sometimes during daytime circuits, there were times when I passed through a shaded section of the track and it was near impossible to see where I was going.  This resulted in some guess work on my part, as well as the words from my co-driver and even when turning up the brightness in-game, it still didn’t help much.  I will happily correct this if I’m wrong in my review, but this problem would easily be solved if I could manually turn my headlights on and off, which only come on automatically during night-time races, from what I can tell.

To summarise, this series has never been everyone’s cup of tea.  While some might prefer a simulator such as DiRT Rally 2.0, some might prefer the more arcade nature of Forza Horizon or for some such as myself, I’m somewhere in-between as I enjoy a bit of both genres.  It might be a hard sell trying to convince those that have never dabbled in this series to give this game a chance, but I still implore them to at least give DiRT Rally 2.0 your consideration at least, especially if you’re a fan of the racing genre.  Sure, it will test your patience at the best of times, but it’s been brilliantly crafted to test you in that way.  And should you give this game the time and day it deserves, you might just discover that DiRT Rally 2.0 is one of the best and rewarding racing games that this console generation has to offer.