tere have always been racing games that sell themselves on numbers. The dozens of circuits, the vast atlases of exotic locations, the garages crammed with authentically detailed vehicles. Other titles, meanwhile, push their glitzier production values; the lush menu systems, the licensed soundtracks, the trackside pizazz.
The excellence of Dirt Rally, though, lies not in breadth, but in depth.
The latest Codemasters racer can be traced back through a lineage that begins with 1998’s acclaimed Colin McRae Rally, and which diverted less successfully into the not-so-serious Dirt series. This latest generation represents a complete rebuild for the bloodline. First appearing as an early-access title on Steam 12 months ago, the game has subsequently evolved alongside input from players (the force feedback system has been fundamentally revamped, for instance) yet the development team’s brief to prioritise the driving experience above all hasn’t altered.
That determination to deliver the most convincing example of digital rallying sees Dirt Rally cut a totally fresh set of tyre tracks across the technological gravel. None of the game’s ancestors – or indeed contemporaries – can get close to its handling model. Rally veers into high-end simulation territory with the grace and exquisite assurance of a young Juha Kankkunen.