DIRT 5 ReviewIf you are looking for a high-adrenaline, off-road experience, Dirt 5 offers some great white-knuckle racing. Available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Google Stadia, you have a wide set of options on where you’ll be able to capture the checkered flag. The series returns with multi-surface tracks, a variety of gorgeous settings and graphics that will blow you away no matter what platform you are playing on.

This instalment of the long running franchise doubles down on arcade racing with a fun main career and a handful of modes to test your mettle. Dirt 5 is a solid, “in your face” racer that will quench your need for off-road speed. Let’s buckle up and hit the backroads to explore all the game has to offer.

Dirt 5 Review Details

Platform(s): Stadia, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One anddirt 5 cover art
Xbox Series X|S
Reviewed on: Stadia
Developer: Codemasters Cheshire
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Racing
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating : E for Everyone

DIRT 5 ChinaRace to the top of the world

The career mode in DIRT 5 is the crown jewel of the entire experience. It offers plenty of vehicle and racing variety, with a quirky, narrative driven story. What makes the DIRT experience so different is the fact each race feels unique from the last with a variety of terrain and autos. You even get a choice in later stages of the game with forking paths that allow you to tackle all, or fewer styles of races.

The main crux of your journey has you competing against a rival driver named Bruno Durand. The story unfolds through a series of audio clips with some legendary VO actors. Durand is voiced by Nolan North (Uncharted, Destiny 2) as you battle your way through a series of championships. You also have a mentor in your corner, Alex “AJ” Janiček who is portrayed by Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Bioshock). AJ gives you helpful pointers as you move through your career path.

There aren’t any cutscenes, so you’ll need to use your imagination to build up the face-to-face drama. It’s a little disappointing considering the talented voice actors involved in the production. Overall, I did listen to all of the clips as the colour commentary was great and kept me coming back for more.

DIRT 5 New YorkDIRT 5’s multiplayer showdowns

The online multiplayer has a lot of variety. The Party Modes are back with Vampire, Transporter and King. Let’s breakdown what each has to offer:

Vampire is essentially a game of tag in cars (what’s not to love about that?) where bumping each opponent brings them onto your team. The main objective is to avoid all the tagged vampires until the clock runs down and the sun rises. I have to admit I clocked a fair share of time here, the thrill of being the last driver standing is wild!

Channel your inner Jason Statham and become the ultimate Transporter. In this mode you need to transfer cargo from point A to B while fending off 11 other drivers. Holding onto the items for longer will also net you more points, so you need to decide if you should directly drop-off or stall for a bigger pay-off. The decision is yours, but it adds to the overall thrill of the chase.

In King mode, you need to grab a crown and head for the hills! Two crowns are placed in the arena and you need to pick up or steal them from other drivers. Hold onto the crown the longest and clock-in the greatest number of points and you’ll be crowned the winner.

off-road racing

Online off-road racing

Online mode also offers more traditional racing akin to the single player mode. You’ll be able to race against human opponents on the 10 locations found throughout the story mode. Developer Codemasters has also promised to continue to curate and support the online experience. With the recent release of the free “Snow Limits” content pack the future is looking bright for DIRT 5 continued support.

off-road racingNew DIRT 5 frontiers in Playgrounds

This year DIRT introduces a stunt track editor mode called Playgrounds where you can design, share, browse and play on community-built tracks. These user-created arenas are a lot of fun to explore and experiment with. Users have created some incredible tracks from homages to Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road to more technical courses that really test your skills. You can create Playgrounds for 3 styles of events: Gate Crasher, Gymkhana and Smash Attack. The tools and objects at your disposal are pretty wild from jump ramps to flaming hoops.

fork lightStunning visuals

The first thing you’ll notice about Dirt 5 is it’s incredible graphics, this game is gorgeous. Vehicles glimmer in the sunlight and reflect their surrounding with near photorealistic visuals. As you race, mud and other debris cake onto your vehicle accumulating lap after lap. You really feel immersed in the environment as it has such a big visual impact on your vehicle. Mud, snow and ice fly at your screen at blistering speeds as you battle for the podium. It makes the racing experience all the more visceral and satisfying with so much eye candy.

DIRT 5’s PS5 and Xbox Series X|S graphical options

On the PS5 and the Series X you can also tweak the performance of the game depending on your television set. The game can hit 120fps on both consoles, but you’ll need a TV that is capable of handling that amount of fps. You’ll get a choice between quality and performance modes on next-gen consoles. Quality ups the textures and detail by sacrificing fps where performance ups fps by reducing environment details.

DIRT 5 rainRacing rain, shine or snow

The weather effects in combination with a full day-to-night cycle are also a marvel to behold. Tracks take on a whole new form depending on the time of day and the weather conditions. At times the framerate does take a bit of hit within a large group of racers, if you manage to push free of the pack the game really shines.

This is especially apparent in DIRT 5’s photo mode which offers plenty of options to capture some truly gorgeous shots. I often found myself stopping midrace for a few pictures, the action and scenery simply demand it.

The sounds of motorsport

Audio is a big part of the racing experience and DIRT 5 delivers in a big way. Firstly, the sound for all the vehicles is extremely accurate compared to their real-life counterparts. The car audio on different surfaces is also executed extremely well. You can hear the difference between gravel, snow and mud as your rip around the course.

Second, is the fully licensed soundtrack with 40 chart topping songs from multiple genres. Just like the wide selection of vehicles, there is a wide variety of tracks. From iconic rock groups like The Killers and club legends like The Chemical Brothers there is a sound for just about everyone. The cars, environments and music tracks meld into a bold, unique sounding experience.

DIRT 5 final lapFinal thoughts on DIRT 5

DIRT 5 is an incredibly fun off-road arcade racing experience that is one of my favourite racers. The presentation, graphics and style make DIRT 5 accessible to a broader audience, not just hardcore racing fans. The series had made a significant U-turn from simulation racing, but still offers a challenge for those looking for one. DIRT’s excellent gameplay and evolving set of challenges keep the formula fresh race after race. That being said certain modes like Sprint Racing are very out of place and Career mode could use a little more depth. All that aside the multiple modes and cars make an incredible racing experience, I highly recommend DIRT 5.

+ Excellent gameplay with tight controls  
+ Graphics and tracks look great
+ Incredible handling over a wide variety of vehicles

– No cutscenes, or character models in story mode
– Sprint car racing is out of place
– Career mode needs more depth

OVERALL ASSESSEMENT OF DIRT 5

Gameplay: 5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 4/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.25/5 (85%)

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Matthew Rondina
Matthew has been involved in all things tech related since the start of the digital era. He shares his passion for technology in his day job as a teacher and via multiple media platforms. As a long-time veteran of the video game and tech industry, he's covered interactive entertainment and esports on the web, in video series, podcasts, and on international television. You can follow Matthew's tech-venture filled lifestyle on twitter and instagram @dapper_tux

4 COMMENTS

    • Thanks Kyle, I really appreciate the kind words and I’m happy you enjoyed the review. Dirt 5 is rip-roaring fun that’s tough to put down, it’s the best next-gen racer, definitely check it out!

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