DIRT 5 IS STUCK IN THE MIDDLE LANE   
Nailing just the basics.              


REVIEW

By JAY TEE
09/11/20
Reviewed on Xbox One X.

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Dirt 5 has taken some notable steps in the right direction, with a vibrant art style, strong voice acting, and a pleasing variety of modes. But there’s something chugging beneath the surface; it’s a game that so desperately wishes it was only available on next gen platforms, and lacks a certain ‘oomph’ to elevate it above similar offerings.

There’s plenty of bang for your buck, to be sure, thanks to the Playground map editor that lets you tinker to your hearts content. In fact, this new addition is easily one of the strongest aspects of the game, whereas the career mode, despite a renewed narrative focus, is an unremarkable and surprisingly plodding affair. Events transition awkwardly to different locations, and there’s no real momentum to your progression.

It’s not just the campaign that feels flat. I found myself groaning at the barrage of messy UI animations, which bombard you with scruffily presented information at every turn. The lack of private online lobbies, although promised sometime after launch, is a strange omission, especially in a game that did such a good job implementing split screen multiplayer.

The audio design can also be a tad jarring, particularly if you’re wearing headphones. Environmental sound doesn’t always neatly blend as you traverse different surfaces, and the repetitive hum of ambient noise can be a distraction. That being said, the soundtrack is excellent, and along with the in game podcasts, represent high points in a very uneven experience.

Moment to moment, when you’re slamming into other heavy set behemoths and tearing through a tight track, Dirt 5 does the job. But therein lies its biggest problem: it’s purely functional. It lacks a sense of speed, and reasons to invest in the campaign. If you also factor in the load times on current gen hardware, and the issues mentioned above, you can see why we’ve been left feeling cold.

This is absolutely a game we’ll be revisiting on fresh hardware, because as it stands, Dirt 5 is tough to recommend right now.  

WORTH IT?

BUT

NAH.
Dirt 5 is functional but unremarkable.   

The Playground mode is a clear standout addition, and the music is superb.

TARPS?

BETTER THAN*:

WORSE THAN*:

At the bottom of some of our articles, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.  

The SKYPE RINGTONE badge is for a game with a catchy soundtrack that you can’t help but love.

The 200TH TARP badge is for a game with more quantity that quality.

The LOBBY LAG badge is for when the multiplayer side of things is lacking features, and/or runs very poorly.  


The CAPTAIN JONWAY badge is earned for a game that lets you party up and / or invite friends into online matchmaking


The WILL MIKER badge is for a game that lets you play locally and / or online with your friends against A.I.



The BANG AVERAGE badge is for a game that is bang average.


The BOREDOM BAND-AID badge is for a game that has moments of boredom and needs a boredom band-aid.



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* This is not a serious comparison.