Codemasters has long been known for some of the best rally games. The DiRT franchise actually began as the Colin McRae Rally in 1998 on PS1 and then grew into DiRT, which today includes two completely different game franchises. We have the DiRT Rally, a series of rally simulators, and then we have the numbered DiRT names that contain their latest version of DiRT 5. Based on years of experience, DiRT 5 will be the largest and most diverse franchise title with vehicles, features and gameplay never seen before in a franchise. Here is our review of DiRT 5 for PC, in which we allow ourselves to play in the new playground mode and also in the powerful Formula Off-Road Titans.
DiRT 5 has a wide range of game modes for you to play. While the traditional rally phases have long since disappeared, the game has many other modes that are much more in line with the general theme of the arcade game. You’ll find events like Stampede, Ice Breaker, Ultra Cross, Cross Raid, Pathfinder and more to play in Main Career or Arcade mode. You will spend some time in Career Mode because you need money and experience to unlock new livers and stickers and buy new cars in the game. Each class offers you different unlocked cars from the start. However, to expand your garage, you need to buy new cars, and these cost money. In career mode, you earn money by shopping. In addition to earning money, you will also earn XP, which will increase your level, allowing you to open new configuration options later on.
Each game mode is unique in DiRT 5 and offers a completely different challenge to master. You have a rush where you have to race heavy cars, or you have a Pathfinder event where you have to race with large inflatable rocks on some of the toughest off-road tracks the game has to offer. You can also participate in the Gyumkhan or traditional rallies with many off-road vehicles. One of the main features of the new DiRT 5 is the new playground mode, which allows the community around the world to create or play custom levels. I’ve spent a lot of time playing at different levels in Playgrounds mode, and I can easily say that I had more fun in this mode than in any other game mode. In this mode, you can be very creative when it comes to creating custom layers.
Another important aspect of the game is the sound design. The sound of the cars and the sound effects in general are amazing, and Codemasters really came out with the soundtrack of the game. The transitions between songs are extremely smooth and streamlined, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a screen where you can’t hear the great music in the game. During a race, the music fades away so you can hear the engine noise and other ambient noises more clearly, but as you walk past passers-by and other small parties on the sidewalks, you feel the music get louder for a while. The lively, active soundtrack fits in perfectly with the overall colour theme of the game and plays an important role in the overall impression of DiRT 5. Listening to the comments of Donut Media is also a pleasure to play.
When you start the DiRT 5 game, you should know that it is a pure ARCADE RALLY GAME. This is not a simulation. Just as Forza has two separate branches for arcade and simulation games, Codemasters now has DiRT Rally for simulation and DiRT for other arcade games. That makes DiRT 5 the funniest arcade rally game I’ve played in a long time. From the very first phase of the game, it was clear that Codemasters made the game accessible and easy to play, allowing a large number of players to enjoy it without spending too much time exploring the ideal racing lines or braking points. A game is a great game with a joystick and even a keyboard, but with the joystick it’s really fun. Even with the features of the arcade game, driving in DiRT 5 doesn’t look cheap. It also means that if you have expensive racetracks, they won’t be very useful here because of the arcade gameplay. I strongly advise you to play DiRT 5 with a normal controller.
Each DiRT 5 car is unique. Lighter cars are agile and much easier to turn and drive, but the much lighter Metropolitan Rally Raid or Formula Off-Road cars or giant inflatable cars are like tanks and require more skill to drive through sharp turns and on small tracks. Driving in mud and other areas affects the way your vehicles react to entered data, so you’ll need to take this into account during the game. They are not too intense to make the game too complicated, but there is a noticeable difference in the handling and performance of each vehicle, depending on your driving style and the terrain you drive over, making it a very good driving experience. However, the AI of the game can endure some refinement as they currently move as blind, orbiting robots. They don’t react to your presence, and even if you stand in their way, they just bounce off you instead of finding a way around you. This behaviour of AI robots gives runners in some cases a very artificial feeling.
While general driving and sliding around cars and vehicles is quite funny, jumping the mechanics sometimes feels funny. Driving a 2-ton track on straight roads feels like meat, but when you stand on the rocks and jump, it bounces around like a smart hatchback rally, which in some cases really pushes you away. Also, driving over bumps sometimes throws the car into strange curves, resulting in accidents and twists and turns. This did not happen when jumping large slopes and steep sections, but more often when jumping over small mud flats or large rocks. The car just bounced into a corner that seemed pretty strange, because the gameplay and controls of the DiRT 5 are generally quite neat. A little debugging can solve this problem and make the game even better.
The game follows the entire theme of the arcade rally and has no fatal damage. The damage is only visual and does not affect the car. I forgot how many times my cars fell from height while playing random levels in playground mode, only to fall back on the track without any problems. Every time I crashed at high speed, I came back in a second, without certain body parts, but everything else was perfectly functional. Without fatal damage, this means that the game can quickly turn into a derby because neither you nor AI really care about your car. During the races there are a lot of collisions and friction, especially in the curves. You can try to drive as cleanly as you like, but there comes a time when one of the AI drivers will overtake you or pass you from behind, so a clean race in the DiRT 5 isn’t exactly what you need.
As far as the technical side of the game is concerned, DiRT 5 under the bonnet is not very stable at the moment, but Codemasters regularly produces patches on these points. Although we didn’t experience any accidental crashes during our review, the review configuration simply didn’t work for us for a while, even though we had several GPUs on the test bench. For reference, our test bench ran with AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32GB DDR4 3200MHz Ram, Auros X570 mobo with 750W Gold Plus Cougar power supply. The game was installed in Team Group T-Force NVMe, so the download speed was quite high. For our GPU we have upgraded to three AMD GPUs, including the R9 290, RX 570 and RX 5700 XT. The construction overhaul couldn’t work with all three GPUs, and we had to wait for the patch before we could launch the game for this overhaul. The frame rates were quite stable for us during the race on the RX 5700 XT, but on the lower GPU’s there was a lot of failure, even on the medium setting. At this point, the game requires some under-the-hood debugging to provide more stable frameworks for a variety of GPUs, because not everyone uses the flagship GPU.
Although DiRT 5 currently requires some adjustments and corrections in terms of PC performance, I will keep this out of the picture because it is fixed with every patch, so it won’t be long before the game is stable. In recent versions, performance problems have been associated with computer games, and DiRT 5 is no different, but in general, Codemasters has handled this game brilliantly. At the moment there are not many decent rally games on the market. Thanks to a strong simulation with DiRT Rally 2.0, the developer has set a milestone in the arcade rally genre, but also with the new DiRT 5. It is ideal for players of all ages who just want to have fun with their favorite rally cars and don’t care too much about hardcore rally action and simulations.
DiRT 5 shines in all areas except technical data. There’s nothing less. It is the best arcade rally game on the market today, and Codemasters has done a good job with this title. Whatever element of the game you choose, whether it’s a star career mode or a new playground mode that offers a whole new way to experience the franchise, a list of vehicles in the game or a level of game design, everything will be at the highest level and fit together perfectly. For me, DiRT 5 is a great return to the origins of the franchise and reminds me a lot of the old names like DiRT 2 and DiRT 3. The game lives on any screen, and she just wants you to be able to move as freely as you want thanks to the many game modes. The icing on the cake is a photo mode that allows you to take really great photos. If you’re worried about the stability of the game right now, you can wait until Codemasters have fixed the last bugs in the game and then get to work. If you’re a fan of racing games, DiRT franchises or just a fun racing game with hours of in-game content, DiRT 5 has arrived for you and should be on your playlist this year.
Total score: 9.0/10