Dirt 5 Review – Cloud Gaming Review

Dirt 5 Screen Capture
The water, mud, and snow effects are breathtaking, especially in Dirt 5’s photo mode

In the world of gaming, the racing genre is always filled with options. It would seem every new console throughout gaming history has had a racing game within its launch window. Every major platform has a dedicated racing genre. Even most publishers, today, have their own brand of racing game they revisit every few years. That’s what makes it so surprising that, as cloud gamers, we have surprisingly few options to get our racing fix. Lucky for us that the games we do have available to us are quite good. It’s sad, however, that this is all we have.

I’ll save you the suspense. Dirt 5 is an awesome racing game. It is single-minded in its purpose, and the level of focus the game has on simply being a fun driving game is a breath of fresh air. Even several years after its release. The offering here may be considered bare-bones by some. There’s a career, arcade, time trial, and online playgrounds, which we will get into a bit later, but there aren’t any modes to choose from besides those.

Personally, I love it when a game just does a few activities really well. However, some players may prefer to have a more meaty offering. If you were to compare this game to Gran Turismo or Forza, it would lose in terms of content. But Dirt 5 is a much more accessible experience than those games. It doesn’t expect you to know anything about cars, racing culture, or proper technique. It just wants you to go fast and have fun doing it.

Read on and watch the review video!

Dirt 5 Screen Capture
Each track in Dirt 5 is filled with a lot of little details, like these flowers tucked away in the corner

Career Mode

True to its name, the career mode is set up like a tree. A horizontal, colorful and meaningless tree, if you will. You’ll choose particular racing events that vary in their times of day, the weather conditions, and the type of off-road vehicle you’ll be using. Dirt 5 has a fair number of tracks on offer, and you’ll be revisiting all of them frequently. But I like what they did with what they had, the off-road vehicles available will make handling these courses feel VERY different depending on the type of vehicle you’re using. Every course can be traversed in clear weather, heavy rain, or heavy snow.

Likewise, the traction for your vehicle is going to be different in every setting. These variables make each race feel unique each time you revisit a track or jump back into a familiar car. And it’s not just the feel. The difference in the way a track looks between heavy rain and heavy snow, it always feels like a completely different place, even if they are the same turns, albeit more slippery.

Simulation done right

I’m not a passionate car-fanatic, so I can’t tell you how realistic the cars feel. I love the balance they struck here. Many racing games like Mario Kart or Grid don’t even seem to need brakes most of the time. While racers like Forza and Gran Turismo make breaking feel as essential as the gas pedal. In Dirt 5, you’ll use your brakes at least a couple of times in each race. Still, most corners can be handled by just letting off the gas and timing your gas pedal just right to kick it into a sick drift. On the scale between simulations like Gran Turismo, and arcades like Cruis’n USA, I’d say it tips the scales a bit more towards Gran Turismo.

The kind of player who would appreciate Dirt 5 is someone who wants to feel like they’re racing a real car, but hasn’t yet learned the nuances of cornering a hairpin turn. Dirt 5 feels serious, but accessible, and it’s an easy recommendation for the casual player.

As you progress in your career, you’ll get some podcasts updating you on the scene. These are actually quite charming, and I have to give a nod to these actors. They give a very convincing presentation, with a pseudo Sports-Center discussion and playful interviews with rival drivers. The story of the game is told through these short podcasts, and they’re a fun listen. Still, it is a shame that you have to wait around in the menu to finish listening rather than allowing the conversation to continue as you load into your next race. I wanted to hear what the hosts had to say, but couldn’t be bothered to wait around in the menus while they finished their conversations, so most of the time I ditched the podcast half-way through.

Dirt 5 Screen Capture
Confetti, fireworks, and smoke are popping off all over the place in Dirt 5. It really makes every race feel like a party

Extra Modes

When you don’t want to be told what to drive in the career mode, you can switch over to the Arcade, Time Trial or Playground modes. Arcade and time trial are what you would expect. Pick a track, pick a car, adjust a few things to your liking, like the weather or time of day, and go have fun. Playground mode however is the REALLY unique idea that Dirt 5 brings to the table. Sets it apart from its peers. Playground mode has tons and tons of levels that other players have made.

Once you enter this mode, the game will just throw level after level at you, and it’s so much fun. Sometimes when you have games like this, people will just make garbage levels that don’t mean anything and waste your time, but I have to hand it to the community. There are a LOT of really great levels in here, and I had a great time exploring them. Admittedly, I didn’t spend a lot of time in this mode because it has you driving on pavement and I really like driving on dirt, so I usually just played the career mode. I’m serious, that’s the real reason. I like dirt.

Final words

If you’re a fan of racing games, you’re likely already convinced about this game. Go play it. For those of you who are sort of THINKING about getting into racing games, and are overwhelmed by the choices, I would say this is the one to pick. The presentation, accessibility, fun driving and all the silly bits make this probably the easiest racing game to jump into. And the content on offer here is enough to keep you busy for dozens of hours. Once you’ve beaten the lengthy campaign and gone back to get 3 stars on all the races, you can move over to the Playgrounds. There, you bathe in the endless number of clever user-created tracks.

Online multiplayer works great and fits the same casual-quick start nature of the single-player campaign. For those needing to share a couch, the game also offers split screen multiplayer on all platforms. At the time of review, Dirt 5 is available on both Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus, as well as Amazon Luna. So, there’s no reason not to drive right in!


Leave a Reply