There exists a class of racing games in which steering and acceleration are the only mechanics worth mentioning. DiRT 4
does not belong to that class. But neither does it belong exclusively to the snobby tuner culture subgenre that prioritizes the time spent in menus over the time actually spent on the road. It manages to be somewhere in between the two without feeling like itís spread too thin, and for that, Codemasters is to be commended.
A good interdisciplinary racer communicates its mechanics by way of how it feels, and DiRT 4 is among the very best of them. Spend enough time with the game, learning from your mistakes at every opportunity, and before long, youíll have a good idea of how to attack each turn, survive each obstacle, and conquer the clock.
You see, different types of cars control in vastly different ways. Concepts like oversteer, understeer, throttle control, and weight transfer factor heavily into navigating the tricky landscapes that comprise DiRT 4ís tracks. Not only do you have to contend with turns of varying intensity, but you must compound that knowledge with that of what the track is actually made of. Youíll know what Iím talking about once you barrel into an acute hairpin in a rear-wheel drive vehicle. It probably wonít end well, but DiRT 4 is a veritable wellspring of teachable moments.
Immersion is often the best way to learn something new, and that includes DiRT 4ís use of co-driverís pacenotes. Rallying is such a precise and potentially dangerous discipline: its winding, technical track layouts and varying surfaces are deliberately designed to throw drivers off. Hereís where your co-driver comes in. You see, thereís a tangible difference between what your mind expects and the reality of the track; the co-driver bridges that gap with a very specific language that describes in extreme detail what the trackís next element will entail. You might think itís a garbled mess of numbers and vague adjectives at first, but spend some time with DiRT 4 and youíll soon know exactly what it all means.
I played the hell out of DiRT 2; so much, in fact, that I eventually wore myself out on the standard (but plentiful) offering of tracks to test my mettle on. DiRT 4 introduces Your Stage, a brilliant tool that effectively makes burnout and success by rote memorization a total non-issue. It takes the concepts of procedurally-generated level design and applies it to DiRTís brand of rallying with remarkable ease. You control two factors via sliders corresponding with length and complexity and let the game do the rest. Itís a watershed moment for the genre for so many reasons, and I canít wait to see what they come up with next.
Codemastersí latest may also be its greatest. While it looks, sounds, and plays fantastically, its noble intentions are capitalized upon to such a successful degree that it deserves every accolade it gets. Put simply, DiRT 4 is sublime.