Dirt 5 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 19.11.2020

Review for Dirt 5 on PlayStation 4

Dirt 5 is the continuation of the much revered series by Codemasters. It's both published and developed by them and distributed by Koch Media. It marks the potential last racing game for Playstation 4 and the first for Playstation 5, making it a true cross gen title. This review will be diving headfirst into the "last-generation" version and discussing if it successfully sees out the older consoles with a bang or a fizzle!

Thumping beats accompany the intro dialogue. Cars flash across the screen between colourful splash screens and cutaways. Excited commentary introduces a festival type atmosphere. Dirt 5 is a loud game. Everything is punchy, vibrant and bright. It is a feel-good kind of jam and it has got a lot of character. Codemasters makes it clear right from the get-go that this is not like their realistic sim driving games, no, this is a fun arcade romp which is chock-full of crazy ideas. Drifting over icy rivers and hurling cars over humongous jumps is not unusual. Obviously there isn't much of a story as it's a racing game but it goes the extra mile to present a premise. Players take control over a new rookie entrant to the Dirt competition and must build their reputation by completing challenges and races. This framing makes the normal racing quite purposeful and it's fun to have that drive to push the progression.

Obviously, in a racing title the driving has got to be fun and this game does not disappoint. It is probably the most fun racing game since Motorstorm. Cars all have unique handling metrics and courses offer a very varied challenge via terrain and obstacles. For example, driving a nippy little hatchback like a Citroen C3 offers nice sticky driving on tarmac and a lot of controlled sliding around dirt tracks in all weathers. However, swap to one of the all-terrain 4x4s and suddenly blasting around dirt tracks at over 100mph takes on a new air of exhilarating recklessness as it buffets over ramps, leans hard going around bends and tries to flip over the large jumps. Both offer a totally different but consistently excellent experience. The controls themselves are mapped well to the controller with the normal triggers to accelerate. In typical Codemasters fashion it's also possible to switch all vehicles to a cockpit view and drive from the middle of the action. This feels incredibly visceral to say the least!

Screenshot for Dirt 5 on PlayStation 4

Obviously some players will need more support than others, which is where the customisations start to come into play. There are a variety of accessibility and driving aid options that really open up the game to all skill levels. The default settings offer a decent challenge but things like Traction control, career difficulty and more can be tweaked in the "Driving Aids" menu for a more tailored experience. Naturally this can be used to increase the difficulty, too. It also supports use of racing wheels for purists who want the real experience with "Force feedback" adjustment options available.

While it's nice to have these specific customisations, customisation seems to be a primary focus of the game, with a plethora of car modifications being available.Customise liveries, icons and add real world sponsors for that authentic rally car look. It's very fulfilling indeed! When it comes to the cars, there are a lot available and all can be purchased by the player using in-game currency with just a single car in each class available at the start. As the player completes challenges and levels up their driving abilities more cars, liveries and customisation options unlock or become available for purchase. The developers really knew what makes players of the Dirt series tick and thus it's immensely satisfying to progress through the career mode. Progressing through career mode also opens up many different tracks for players to use in other modes, with a huge variety of courses based all over the world, with Norway being a particular highlight with its christmassy details along the track sides.

Screenshot for Dirt 5 on PlayStation 4

Career isn't the only mode available, there is a vast variety of offerings, including, but not limited to, playground mode and split-screen/ multiplayer racing. Having any kind of "couch Co-op" is an absolute boon to a modern racing game, especially since so many have abandoned supporting it and Dirt 5's split-screen is excellent. It runs silky smooth and retains all the details of the single player with simulation damage and AI opponents. Playing Arcade mode in split-screen allows for custom time of day and weather as well as the ability to choose the track, meaning the options are very varied all in all. Playground mode is another fantastic addition, allowing players to build and share courses crammed full of difficult skill challenges. Competing in these courses for best times, longest jumps, skillshots and more is very fun and really adds to the overall game longevity and replayability.

Visually, things are very polished. Car models are very well detailed and true to life which makes all the difference when there is an option to open all the doors to explore the interior. They also have loads of reflective qualities and custom interior cockpits for the cockpit view. The game supports HDR rendering which adds an element of "pop" to the lighting in the various levels. It makes evening tracks and rainy weather as well as the snowy Norse tracks aforementioned into something truly visually striking. Speaking of tracks, each locale has its own colour scheme and terrain models making them feel truly unique to race around. This is probably the best looking scenery in a codemasters game to date! With sun streaming through trees, bouncing off of puddles and a smattering of 3D crowd members, everything seems quite alive and it really says something that these details stand out even at incredibly high speeds. Phenomenal graphics.

Screenshot for Dirt 5 on PlayStation 4

Sound is also of a high caliber with a massive and varied music library from contemporary pop tunes to classic rock anthems; it has everybody's taste covered. The aforementioned commentator voices in the career and menus are not too bad, they can grate sometimes or take things to a bit of a drole level with bad puns; it hits the Ubisoft sport game level of hip and cool at times. Overall though, they present the game with gusto and some of their dialogue is genuinely funny and interesting. Cars and track sounds are sublime with each individual car sporting its own engine sounds (well, there might be the occasional re-used sound but it's hard to tell), and default settings had the music a bit high for this reviewer but a slight tweak on the individual volume track in setting assorted that out. Basically, aside from the corny dialogue, it's hard to fault the sound design.

It is time to talk about the main and possibly only downside to the "last-gen" version of this game: loading. Considering the quality oozing from the game it's no surprise loading can be quite lengthy and by no means is it extreme, it was still less than a minute but there were the occasional 30+ second loading times. It's a small niggle but it's a tough one when the races are so short, snappy and surrounded by slick interfaces a-plenty. Not a game killer but it's definitely worth noting if there is a debate between new-gen and last-gen versions of the game.

Screenshot for Dirt 5 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Dirt 5 is possibly the best Codemasters game to ever be released and can stand on par with its simulation focussed sibling Dirt Rally 2.0. A visual and auditory treat, this game defines the end of the racing games on the PlayStation 4 and it's done so with a flair befitting of the Dirt franchise. This is a must have racer!

Developer

Codemasters

Publisher

Codemasters

Genre

Driving

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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