On sale for 117 DKK with PS Plus (which was 60 DKK for a month), this was still cheap enough that I caved in and bought it. While it was downloading, I got to try out a few races with the Ford Escort Mk II and the Mini Cooper S. I was not ready for how unforgiving this game was, so I did a lot of deadly cliff dives and wrecked a lot of vehicles.
This game is even better than I had hoped. I was worried about several things that could ruin my enjoymennt:
Do you work towards unlocking cars and spending time with each car, or does the game provide cars for you? I play driving games to look at cool cars and exotic race tracks, so unlocking new cars and tracks is the key to keeping my motivation up.
Is there a frustrating and confusing career mode? I really don't like the calendar-based confusing career mode of games like Project CARS. I prefer clear goals like 'win this championship on this set of tracks'.
And the thing I was the most worried about: Is the game too difficult? I heard the reviewers talk about this game being a hardcore simulation, and I very aware that I'm not good at racing games, so this game could be too punishing to be enjoyable for me.
As it turns out, you do work towards gradually buying new cars and spend a good long time with each of them, even leveling them up by using them and unlocking upgrades. The career mode seems super simple: you chose a championship and try to advance your overall level to work towards winning. The game is very difficult, which, at least in the beginning, actually makes it more enjoyable: there are super dangerous mountain tracks with sheer cliffs on the side, and slick snow-covered death traps of ice, and you barely feel in control of your car, but with all driving assistance turned all the way up, I can play it and enjoy it, while still getting my pulse up because the game demands concentration unlike most others. Time will tell if I ever manage to win a championship, but for now, I'm content winning money, buying and upgrading cars, and coming in 4th or 5th in every race.
This game is so good! I can feel myself improving a lot, daring to put the pedal slightly closer to the metal, when a small inaccuracy won't result in immediate death. I've enjoyed driving the beautiful Alpine a lot, and ended up finishing the OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP in 3rd position, a position I'm very happy with. The final event in Wales was a real nightmare of mud and confusing layout, but I managed to get through it. I could afford to buy one of my childhood favourite cars, the Lancia Stratos.
Tonight I played with headphones, and I'm very impressed by the sound design, it's very detailed, realistic sounding, and at times, positively brutal. Driving through a puddle of water in Dirt Rally has more impact than getting blown up by a grenade in most other games.
I played a Custom Championship to practice playing with my Stratos, and Custom Championships do yield money and upgrade XP.
The Lancia Stratos is fun and fast, but it's tricky to drive. Even pressing the speeder down too fast will send it off its course. Driving through snowy winter Sweden was a harrowing experience.