A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dirt Rally 2.0 is an off-road racing game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. Players drive vehicles based on real-world cars with realistic handling, forcing them to drive quickly but cautiously across treacherous rural tracks. Cars sustain damage that can affect how they handle, but the driver and his or her co-pilot are never injured. The intense difficulty all but guarantees players won't win all or even most races, forcing players to accept and deal with the concept of losing. Online play encourages friendly competition among players. Parents should also note that this game contains plenty of in-game advertising for automotive brands and energy drinks.
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What's it about?
DIRT RALLY 2.0 provides an authentic off-road racing experience in a vein similar to the original Dirt Rally. The career mode is composed of a series of lengthy multistage races in which players drive rally cars through rough rural settings around the world, with locations including Argentina, New Zealand, Poland, and New England. A smart co-pilot provides constant guidance on what to expect next, be it sharp turns, bumps in the road, or pools of water. The courses are narrow and tough, with changing weather and surface conditions. Unlike most racing games, this one eliminates aids such as a virtual guidance line and the ability to rewind after crashes. Even your ability to restart races is limited. Cars suffer wear and damage through each stage, affecting performance and traction. And with restrictions placed on when and how you can repair your car -- repairs come with either monetary or time penalties -- there's a good chance players won't even be able to finish some races, as is the case for many teams in real-world rally competitions. Outside of the career mode, players can try racing in historic rally events and jump online to compete against other players.
Is it any good?
This is a complicated yet fun racing game that slowly builds players' confidence in their driving ability. Dirt Rally 2.0 is bound to frustrate many players early on as they find themselves careening over cliffs, getting spun around by rocks jutting into the road, and losing traction due to small changes in road elevation. Cars will become damaged to the point of being undrivable -- just try making your way through the Australian Outback at high speeds once your headlamps have cracked and gone dark -- and time penalties incurred for, say, needing to right a flipped ride, can quickly squash any hope of winning. But with time, you'll learn to race in a manner much more reflective of the real world, exercising more caution as conditions become more extreme. The first time you finish a stage without needing to reset your car on the road comes with a sense of accomplishment lacking in most racing games. And the first time you win a stage -- or a whole event -- you'll be bursting with pride.
To be sure, this type of racing experience won't be to all tastes. The controls and physics are very authentic, meaning players can't get away with sloppy steering and braking. Mistakes are punished, and arcade racing fans are bound to experience frustration. It's also not the prettiest of racers. The car models are beautiful and weather effects lovely, but the tracks lack the high-definition details and hyper-realistic effects common in big-budget racers. But there are plenty of games out there designed to cater to these tastes. Dirt Rally 2.0 isn't for everyone, but players looking for a punishingly realistic racing game that rewards perseverance with a genuine sense of achievement need look no further.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing to kids. While most players are unlikely to be able to purchase the cars featured in Dirt Rally 2.0, they could be swayed by the game's ads for energy drinks, so why do you think energy drink companies frequently advertise in racing games?
Whether playing online or against AI competitors in the career mode, you're bound to lose a lot of races in Dirt Rally 2.0. How do you cope with being beaten? What can you learn from defeat?
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For kids who love racing
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.