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Finally, it’s also worth noting that the audio is plain superb. The between-race music is a huge improvement on Forza’s raucuous US ‘rawk’, and the engine notes and environmental noises are superbly rendered, in-car or outside.
Now, the TOCA-style approach DiRT has taken does have its strengths and weaknesses, the big strength being variety, and the big weakness being that not all events are equal. The worst events are predictably those that cater to the US love of huge vehicles – racing a massive freightliner up Pike’s Peak is not a particularly thrilling experience. However, most of the events on offer are actually pretty good. Even buggy racing, one of the low-points of last year’s TOCA Race Driver 3, is a decent laugh.
In addition, you don’t actually have to compete in every event if you don’t want to. The main career mode works through a series of tiered events. Earning points in one tier opens further events in that tier and eventually events in the tier above. Providing you do well in the events you like best, it doesn’t matter if you don’t bother or do badly in the events you dislike. Do the Rally sport events if you like and give the CORR stuff a miss – you should still be able to make progress through the game. The only factor you might want to consider is money. You need cash to buy the 46 vehicles the game has to offer, and as particular events demand a particular type of vehicle, you may need some more wherewithal before you can go through.
What’s more, you can even ignore the career mode should you choose and have a more traditional McRae experience in the Rally Championship mode. You can work your way through UK, European, International and Global championships, each throwing more stages in more countries your way. Still no Finland, Greece or Sweden, but you can still pretend your having an in-depth Rally experience. With so many stages to fight through, setup and damage repair become far more important than they are in the main career mode, so it’s lucky that the between-stage car setup, repair and tuning options are both comprehensive and – thanks to a handy in-game hint system – easily comprehensible.