Friday, September 8, 2017

Dirty enough, I suppose

There is a specific kind of panic that only a rally racing game can produce. You are hurtling down a narrow road, a sheer cliff on one side and jagged rocks on the other, just at the edge of losing control, completely focused on the road ahead and the instructions from your co-driver.

Right 6 over crest.

You turn. No problem.

Left 2, don't cut.

You break, turn left, accelerate out of the corner.

Crest, 100.

Finally, a straightaway. And then you miss the next bit of instruction. For whatever reason, your concentration slipped, your cat attacked you or you took a drink, you missed it. Since you are going up a rise you cannot see what is coming. Braking now is a possibility but that costs precious time. You waffle for an incredible two or three seconds, a growing pit in your stomach, before doing nothing and flying over the rise.

Into a hairpin turn and, of course, a very unforgiving tree.

This is Dirt 4, a slimmed down version of the previous games. Most of the style and flash is gone but the racing is still good, the experience customizable to what the player is looking for. I have it set on medium which turns off most of the driving assists but I have the AI set to easy because, well, because I am lazy. This tweaking makes the game fun and almost makes the lack of a rewind function forgivable.

The bit of missed dialogue above was not actually your fault. Your co-driver took the time to say that the engine sounds bad instead of warning you of the god damn turn and killer oaks over the hill. This has happened to me several times and is not near as amusing as it sounds. I would like to rewind a few seconds and try again, but no, you need to replay the entire stage. This will get old.

It seems that, in the shadow of both the main stream Forza series and the superior Horizon spin offs, that other racing games and been tightening their belts. Dirt was at one time an prime example of how rally racing could be gussied up to be exciting. Even the loading screens bristled with style. Now? Now it's just a racing game, more accessible (read that as easy if you must) than most, but just a racing game. It cannot hope to keep up with Turn 10, so why bother?

This makes in a hors d'oeuvres, a distraction, something to just play for a bit while I wait for the Xbox One X to come out and run Forza 7 the way it is meant to be run. Not every game needs to be epic. Dirt 4 is a reasonable time, for now, though I have found that I really do not like using the dualshock controller when playing a racing game.

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