Oh how the mighty have fallen… If you look back a couple of years, you’ll find my review for Dirt 4, a rally game I had nothing but praise for and happily gave a staggering 9/10! Now here I am with the follow up ready to love again, but Dirt 5 had other plans. Crushingly disappointing plans.

Right off the bat, Dirt 5 gives me a vibe of trying to hard. Hitting with a blinding mix of colours and strange soundtrack to make you think, “Ah this is the youngsters Dirt!” its shame since the rest of the series has carried out a good balance of cool modern racing with classic rally perfectly making both seem incredible and not taking away from either. Dirt 5 has decided rally is no longer what it wants to be associated with and has become a bog standard racing game…with a little mud thrown into the mix. I played the game for nearly 3 hours with absolutely no sign of a proper timed stage or co driver giving me directions, maybe I’m alone in this disappointment but too many franchises try going this way to appeal to a wider base while alienating the old fans.

The biggest gripe with this new flavor of Dirt is the commentators. Led by Alex “AJ” Janiček (voiced by Troy Baker) who is your “boss” only in the way that he says he is your boss. There is supposed to be a narrative here but most of it is put by the wayside and means basically nothing in the long run, even when you encounter your rival Bruno (voiced by Nolan North because of course he is) there are no real stakes or changes to the gameplay. The gameplay changes come from the seasons and weather effects, one of the few things I actually enjoyed here.

Some races are locked out if you try to enter them during the wrong season, like a winter race in New York or summer in the outback. These seasons also effect things during the races with winter bringing ice and slippery conditions and summer changing…nothing I guess?

Creativity is the name of the game this time around. There are countless new paint and design options for your cars and some cute decals you unlock for doing well in races. This would be amazing if you actually unlocked any of it, but no, you simply unlock the right to purchase it! Which isn’t so much of an issue since money is tossed at you aggressively after every race, much like to Jeff Bezos, money has lost all value in this world as I’m paid 200k just for finishing a race, even if I don’t place.

Dirt 5 is most definitely a style of substance title, giving everything it can to look “cool”. A opinion I came to as I made a 40ft jump across a canyon while flames shot around me… in any other game I might have found that cool, but here, it just made me audibly sigh. What happened to my precious rally game…

If all this doesn’t sound like much of a problem to you and you can get behind all these changes that I like to call “Deadpool-ification” then I still have bad news for you, the game is buggy. During most of my races, the scenery I blew past was glitched or not properly rendering in time so it was a sudden blow to my confidence to be hooning about and come to a crashing halt because I had hit an invisible rock that then loaded in just to mock me! Couple this with strange handling that seems geared towards making me drift on every corner, which again might be fine in a different franchise which had done this sort of thing before, but this is all such a jarring change which it seems like even the devs weren’t ready for.

Overall Dirt 5 is a crushing blow to a fan of the series like me and I hope just a quick experiment before we get back to the classic rally and rallycross that this series was built on in the first place!

I give Dirt 5 – 3/10