Dirt 5 – Review (Xbox One)
Codemasters is back again with another Dirt title. While I have loved the feeling of being behind the wheel of a rally car screaming down narrow dirt roads with hairpin turns, Codemasters has decided to go down a different path with Dirt 5. Unlike the previous titles, where the racing was point to point against the leaderboards, Dirt 5 offers that door to door pack style racing you’d find in the Forza Horizon series. With that being said, let’s take a more in-depth look at what this game has to offer!
The career mode is very well done. It starts out like most racing games where the player is the new person on the tour and you are mentored by the big superstar. The big superstar is AJ, who is voiced by a familiar voice, Troy Baker. The mentorship aspect doesn’t play a factor in the progression of career mode at all, but it does add that fun storyline that games like this tend to lack. What makes this career mode more enjoyable than most is that it gives you some flexibility with the way it allows you to progress through the different stages. Each stage has a variety of races that you can choose from to race your way to the next stage. What’s neat about this is that once you earn enough stamps, it unlocks the next stage even if you haven’t completed every race. After hitting a certain amount of stamps, showdowns are available. Showdowns allow you to race against a rival and unlocks various liveries and decals for your vehicles. A cool concept, but the only issue with the unlockables is that the general customization in this game is severely lacking which is to be expected from a game that focuses more on the driving aspect and less on the customization options. The narration in career mode is very enjoyable thanks to the Dirt Podcast presented by Donut Media. Those familiar with Donut Media will recognize James Pumphrey and Nolan Sykes, as the duo crack jokes and banter back and forth about all of the happenings during your progression through the story.
While the gameplay isn’t bad by any means, it is lacking and leans more towards arcade-style racing than it does sim-style racing. The easiest way to describe it is an unpolished version of the Forza Horizon series. While there are numerous cars and race types to choose from, I found that the cars handling and the different races all felt the same overall. The differences between a buggy built for tackling offroad terrain compared to the retro rally car during the ice races was very minimal, which was kind of a disappointment. For some reason or another, Dirt 5 offers sprint car racing as one of the race types. Personally, this race drove me absolutely insane due to the controls being more of a headache than anything, and I found myself skipping this race whenever possible. Now with the negatives comes the positives, right? This is where ice racing and playgrounds come in. Ice racing was by far my favorite race to do. Door to door drifting on an all ice track! This race was an absolute blast, and also took a lot of car control which was extremely satisfying to master.
Although the custom stage generator from Dirt 4 is gone, Dirt 5 brings its own custom track building. Enter playgrounds – A custom track builder that allows players to go all out with track designs and insanity. I found myself immersed in playing user-created tracks for hours and having an absolute blast. Some tracks are inspired by some realistic environments, while others were solely based on the players imagination. This mode is well-executed, editing controls were very user friendly and while I never made a course I was proud enough to upload, the player based content is certainly there and thriving. Playgrounds is that perfect mode for when career mode gets a bit stale and you don’t feel like being run off the track in the multiplayer lobbies.
Multiplayer is also available in Dirt 5. Nothing really stood out to me about the multiplayer. It was your typical online race lobbies. Pull ahead and get run into or slammed into a wall. There wasn’t a huge online presence for this game, so finding a lobby took a little long, but it’s there if you want to try it. The one cool thing about multiplayer in Dirt 5 is that it is split-screen offline for up to 4 players, which is a nice feature that could be great fun for you and a few friends!
Overall, Dirt 5 is a fun play. The easy to learn controls, fun arcade-like racing style, and craziness that playgrounds deliver makes this game a must-have for anyone who wants to play a racing-style game without the seriousness that comes along with sim-style racing like Dirt Rally 2.0 or some of the other Dirt titles
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
Check us out at Opencritic!
+ Easy to pick up and race
+ Visually appealing
- All of the cars feel relatively the same
- Lack of customization