DiRT 5 Xbox Series X Review

November 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox Series X

Publisher: Codemasters  Developer: Codemasters Cheshire  Genre: Racing

Players: 1-12  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: PS5, Xbox One, PS4

Remember when the DiRT series was overly Americanized? This of course led to a number of complaints, forcing British developer Codemasters to tone it down somewhat, with DiRT 3 being less in your face, and then DiRT 4 basically abandoning it altogether. Well guess what? DiRT 5 is very American once again, although it has never felt more fitting than it does here. 

This is also a very different kind of DiRT game, completely dropping the rally aspect altogether and focusing on wheel-to-wheel action, involving everything from trucks, buggies, muscle cars to rally cross and classic rally cars. With its fireworks, jumping sparks, confetti and balloons, the game also has a colourful festival atmosphere, and everything just feels big, which is exactly how the American’s like it, although on this occasion I’m definitely not complaining. This is one big, bold and beautiful racer, even if Troy Baker as your mentor does begin to grate after a while. 

Speaking of big, the detailed vehicles that you get your hands on are large and detailed in DiRT 5. While the game has a number of views, it’s the exterior view that is positioned closest to your chosen vehicle that I would feel rude not to use. On the Xbox Series X at least, the vehicle detail is immense, and there’s also some very snazzy liveries that can be unlocked. Environmental detail is also stunning, lighting is striking, and it’s nice to see the sky and the weather dynamically and spectacularly changing throughout races, while the game runs at a very smooth 60fps, with the option for 120fps if you have a supported display. All in all, DiRT 5 is a visual spectacular, and an impressive early showcase as to what the next generation machines can do.  

The AI may not be up there with Codemasters best, but it does the job.

DiRT 5 also features a pleasing number of tracks, staged across places such as Arizona, Brazil, Morocco, China, New York, Greece, South Africa and Norway. There’s mud, dust, ice and snow to contend with, and even a bit of tarmac, and with the variation of different weather patterns across the differing racing locations, there’s definitely much to discover in the game’s enclosed tracks, even if said tracks aren’t amongst the most memorable featured in a racing game.

DiRT 5 has a large career mode, and like the game itself, it’s one that isn’t too hard on you. You are able to progress through many events without winning them or even finishing in the top three, and you’ll still receive cash, XP and rep for taking part. You earn stamps through progression, and you must possess a number of these by the end of a chapter, but even these can be earned through other ways other than a podium finish, with ticking off a list of objectives in a race also earning you a stamp. Throughout the career mode you’ll be taking part in all the game’s events and racing across all the featured locations. 

DiRT 5 might seem like it has a number of different events, although in reality this isn’t really the case, with many of the events just being variations on others. There’s still a lot to like though, and it’s nice having to tackle different surfaces with, say, ice racing, although most of the events do involve traditional racing, be it having to complete laps or a straight point-to-point race. One of the standout events is the Path Finder events. Besides the returning and fun show off events that are the Gymkhana events, these are the only events in the game that lack physical opponents, with the clock and the rough terrain being your worst enemies. These events are enjoyable enough and rather quirky in their execution, although the traditional rallying is definitely missed. Perhaps Codemasters are wanting to completely separate the DiRT series and its spin-off DiRT Rally from one another. 

The vehicle handling is rather good, and is fairly accessible as well. Most importantly, it’s fun to throw the large vehicles around the stunning tracks, and you can also sling them around without fearing mechanical damage, while cosmetic damage a little disappointing, and Codemasters have done a lot better in the past in this area. There’s assists that can be toggled on and off, and it’s enjoyable learning how to react to different surfaces, with ice definitely being one of my own biggest bugbears, particularly when using certain vehicles. 

DiRT 5 has a brand new Playground mode, which allows you to get your creative juices flowing, giving you the opportunity to create your own Gymkhana, Smash Attack,  and Gate Crasher arena events. It’s an accessible enough creation tool, although if it’s not your cup of tea to create, you can always ignore creation altogether and just play the efforts of others. All in all, there’s some impressive creations to be found, and it’s definitely a mode that adds legs to the game outside of the traditional multiplayer options, which the game isn’t without of course. 

Believe it or not, the sun may be shining later in this race.

Indeed, multiplayer even includes four player split screen, which is most welcome, particularly as any form of split screen is regularly ignored these days. As for online options, the game features cross generation multiplayer, and you are able to play straight races as well as some quirky party games. Vampire has one player being the titular vampire, and turning their opponents into vampire cars by crashing into them, resulting in their lights turning red. King is of course all about holding a crown to earn points, with the crown being lost when you make contact with an opponent. Finally, transporter is a risk versus reward mode, wherein the objective is to get hold of an object and transport it somewhere to earn points, although the longer you hold said object, the more points you’ll earn. As fun as multiplayer is, the current lack of private lobbies is a shame, and it just feels a little bare at this point in time. 

With Codemasters Cheshire being a new developer with a fresh mindset, DiRT 5 is a new beginning for the mainline DiRT series, and it’s a mostly successful refreshing of the muddy series. While online multiplayer is a little lacking right now, on the whole this is a beautiful game that offers masses of fun and variation in terms of its vehicles, environments and changing weather. There’s definitely plenty here to recommend then in this charismatic and colourful racer.