Review: Dirt 5
Racing games aren’t necessarily a genre of videogames which excite me anymore. They used to. I played quite a lot of driving games when I was younger but then there seemed to be a lot more variety than there is today. Jaguar XJ220, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, Metropolis Street Racer, Wipeout, Outrun, Chase HQ, Need for Speed, Mario Kart, F-Zero, Daytona USA, Ridge Racer, and of course the awesome Sega Rally are just a few that I can think of from the top of my head.
There were tons of racing games when I was younger, but now it seems as if there are just a few that corner the market. The main ones being the Forza series and Gran Turismo. It’s fair to say the Forza Horizon games are generally excellent and have an open world racing structure which takes you around the globe in each game. The standard Forza games (now into the 7th of the series) don’t do anything for me, as they seem more like a simulation rather than an arcade racer. The last Gran Turismo game I played properly was on the PlayStation 2, so that tells you something about my love, or lack of it, for that particular franchise.
So as you can see, when you compare the varied list of games I mention from my childhood/early years with what is available today, hopefully you can understand why I fell out of love with the racing genre. But if you look a bit deeper, you’ll find that there are some excellent racing games out there. Maybe I just need to look a bit harder? The superb Hotshot Racing from 2020 was a love letter to Sega arcade racing games, and I’ve got Wreckfest on my hard drive which I’ve heard is really good. So maybe it isn’t as bad as I make out?
And then you have the Dirt franchise from Codemasters. Codemasters have been around for years and have a huge wealth of experience when it comes to making racing games. They made the TOCA Touring Car Championship games as well as Colin McRae Rally. The latter morphed into the Dirt franchise, and to tell the truth I haven’t played many in the series. I did spend a lot of time with Dirt 2 on the Xbox 360. This was an awesome rally driving game which I absolutely loved. It had an equally fantastic soundtrack featuring the likes of Black Stone Cherry, Elbow, Madina Lake, The Prodigy, and Queens of the Stone Age. The other Dirt games passed me by, but the dawn of new consoles led to the release of Dirt 5. I’d heard good things about it so decided to get a new racing game for my brand-new shiny PS5.
Believe it or not there is (kind of) a story with Dirt 5 featuring the vocal talents of Troy Baker and Nolan North. Fans of videogames will know these names from the likes of The Last of Us and Uncharted, to name a few. The whole thing is played out in a podcast style which has rival drivers chatting to the hosts. If I’m completely honest I didn’t really pay much attention and concentrated purely on the racing.
It’s fair to say that Dirt 5 doesn’t have a wealth of modes, vehicles or tracks. In fact it’s fairly bare bones when compared to other racing games. Don’t expect to be doing lots of customisation with your vehicle as this isn’t really an option. Dirt 5 is more of an arcade racer rather than a simulation. There are plenty of races in career mode to keep you occupied, but you will notice you tend to race on the same tracks. The game tries to mix things up by adding weather effects, changing the time of day or racing the tracks backwards. I don’t necessarily see this as a massive criticism as Sega Rally only had three cars and four tracks and I loved that game!
Rather than focus on the negative, let us focus on the positive racing experience itself, which is fantastic! The cars handle beautifully and there is a genuine sense of speed as you drift around corners. There are also different challenges in each race to help boost your overall score. These range from doing drifts, trading paint (crashing into other cars), or overtaking.
It’s worth pointing out the Dual Sense adaptive triggers on the PlayStation 5 controller really add to the overall experience of Dirt 5. The mechanisms in the triggers jolt and move as you hit every bump, take corners and change gears. it helps to make Dirt 5 a really immersive experience.
Graphically Dirt 5 looks really nice. It’s bright and colourful and I was especially impressed with the weather effects as your car gets caked in mud when it starts to rain. It probably doesn’t match up to the hyper realistic graphics of the Forza and Gran Turismo series, but I’m not that much of a petrol head to care.
One option that does set Dirt 5 apart from other racing games is the Playground. If you are a creative type, you can build your own tracks as well as race on tracks other people have made.
- A fantastic arcade racing game which you can instantly pick up and play with little to no fuss.
- Excellent graphics featuring some nice weather effects.
- Beautiful car handling which is enhanced by the Dual Sense adaptive triggers on the PlayStation 5.
The Bad and the Ugly
- Fairly bare bones in terms of modes, races, cars and tracks.
- One of the races can be a bit annoying as the car physics can be unpredictable.
Dirt 5 harkens back to the racing games I used to love. It’s a no-nonsense arcade racer which you can pick up and play. There are no fancy tutorials and no in depth car customisation options. Some people won’t be happy with this, but it suits me down to the ground. I want a solid, fun racing game which you can play for 10 minutes or an hour, and also reminds me of Sega Rally. If you are like me and these things sound appealing, then I’m sure you will enjoy Dirt 5.
Review by Chris.