"Dirt 4" first play review: dirty, demanding, and damn good fun Page 3

So. Much. Choice.

“Dirt 4” has over 50 vehicles to choose from. Want to fling an Audi Sport Quattro S1 through the Welsh countryside? Go for it. Feel like taking a drive in the truly wild Global Rally Cross RX-class vehicles? It's a hoot. Want to bound over jumps in a big, dumb, 900-horsepower pickup? “Dirt 4” will accommodate you. If it's tangentially related to rallying, “Dirt 4” has a vehicle and a driving mode for it.

The Joyride tab of the Events screen has 11 “chapters,” if you count the Gymkhana-like free roam mode. Each chapter (aside from free roam) includes six challenges focused on a single vehicle or vehicle type. In Time Attack, you'll need to run a certain number of laps around the DirtFish school in Washington, collecting coins to subtract time and avoiding penalty markers that add time, while Smash Attack is even simpler—smash a bunch of boxes before the clock runs out. Each challenge has a bronze, silver, and gold ranking, so it's easy to pour a lot of time into these 60 challenges.

If you manage to finish the career and Joyride modes, the Freeplay tab will easily keep gamers hooked. To simply describe Freeplay—that it's a make-your-own championship—does it a disservice. 

Gamers can choose one of the four disciplines, add six events, and within those events, add 12 separate stages (for Rally and Historic Rally only). From there, they can choose any course they've played, or go through and generate a completely random stage, choosing the length, complexity, time of day, and weather. Land Rush and Rally Cross, though, are limited to time of day and weather at one of the game's pre-determined circuits.

The important thing about Freeplay, though, is that it pays cash just like the Career mode events. You can use money earned from your own custom championships to buy new cars and upgrade your team and staff, just like in Career. In other words, “Dirt 4” never needs to end.

“Dirt 4's” variety of gameplay modes, the same immersive physics Codemasters employs in its "F1" franchise, and gorgeous graphics are expected today. But an easily adjustable handling mode is more accessible, and engrossing strategy gameplay brings a new element to virtual racing, while "Dirt 4's" rally theme provides a tighter focus on cars and events than mainstream competitors. If you're tired of waiting for the next installment of “Forza Motorsport” or “Gran Turismo” to drop, “Dirt 4” is just the game to scratch your virtual racing itch. 

“Dirt 4” is available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Windows PC on June 9.

Disclaimer: Motor Authority accepted a digital copy of "Dirt 4" for review purposes.

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