DiRT 4 Preview - Off the beaten track

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Codemasters have a long history of making racing games. To many Codemasters remain best-remembered for their rally series on the Colin McRaelicense, but in recent years they haven't let that be their last contribution to the genre. Their DiRT series can be considered a hit-or-miss type of deal to many, but with DiRT 4 launching soon it may be good idea to take a look at what it's going to offer.

Procedurally generated challenge

Rally games typically have a counter-immersive problem. A finite number of tracks means a sufficiently motivated player can learn them by heart, defeating the purpose of having a co-driver. There is a saying that a track driver does one corner a thousand times, but a rally driver does a thousand corners once. Tracks you can memorize run counter to it. Thankfully, Codemasters figured out a way to fix it.

Your Stage

DiRT 4 has an ingenious system that is able to generate unique stages based on two sliders and some additional detail like weather or region. With sliders you decide on the length and complexity of the track and then you let the system have at it until it generates a track that looks interesting for you. The system is also in place during the career mode, so you are never quite sure what the road's going to be. Which is as it should be.

With Your Stage you will be able to generate an infinite (or large enough to seem infinite) number of tracks, extending DiRT 4's longevity immensely.

The best for both worlds

Previous DiRTs were considered a fair bit... prohibitive to players without any prior skill in the genre. To some, it may be a sign that it's a genuine hardcore simulation. To others, it's a game that doesn't even help them enjoy it, because of nearly non-existent tutorial. Codemasters managed to solve that problem as well.

Switching gears

DiRT 4 lets the player choose how they want to play. Depending on their preference they can pick a "Simulation" setting, with all of its bells and whistles set to "on". This mode will be punishing to newcomers and ever rally game veterans should probably be careful, because it won't pull any punches. Make a mistake and the nearest tree will have your liver, no rewinds, no apologies. So, you know, drive fast, but cautiously.

Source: @dirtgame on Twitter

Stunning locales

The Your Stage feature mentioned before also has another beneficial effect: it allowed the developers to bypass licensing issues regarding existing (and privately owned) rally areas. So while we will be able to drive in some familiar regions over all, the specific places are gone. Where will we drive, anyway?

Confirmed locations for the Rally mode are Tarragona (Spain), Värmland (Sweden), Michigan (USA), Powys (Wales), and Fitzroy (Australia).

Fans of Landrush will ride across California, Nevada, and Baja.

Finally RallyCross will take us to England, France, and Norway.

DiRTy summary

DiRT 4 shows that Codemasters not only want to learn, but are also dedicated to providing the gamers top-notch entertainment. The Your Stage system may be one of the most revolutionary features to come to racing games. If other developers aren't asleep they should be working on their own version of it already. Having access to virtually limitless number of tracks is something that is sure to appeal to many fans of rally-based games. DiRT 4 will also be much more accessible without sacrificing its complexity. The Gamer and Simulation will make sure that newcomers and veterans, respectively, will have the level of challenge they want.

DiRT 4 launches on June 9 this year. Are you ready to get your hands DiRTy in this new immersive rally simulation?

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