Now everyone has their favourite game series. My nephew has Real Racing. My best mate has Bioshock and Fallout.
Now those of you who know me will know that mine are Halo, Gears of War, Crysis, Forza Motorsport and WWE. But there is one more, that is very special to me. DiRT.
I have a lot of motorsport heroes, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Ayrton Senna and Jenson Button are just a few. But this series involves a hero of mine called Colin McRae.
Colin McRae was a rally driver who started his career in the early 1990s. His father Jimmy and brother Alistair were also rally drivers, and all three won titles around the British Isles. But Colin went even further and became the first British driver to win the World Rally Championship in 1995.
He was spectacular to watch with his pedal to the metal, all or nothing style. so when Codemasters, who make some of the best racers today, announced that they were making a Rally game endorsed by the man himself for the PS1, I was immediately interested. Colin McRae Rally was released in 1998, and I got to play it in a Virgin Megastore, as they were having a contest for its release. I set the fourth fastest time of the day, but it was so much fun, I wasn't really bothered by that.
I finally got the game that Christmas, and I played it to death. Throwing that Subaru World Rally Car into the turns and sliding around was great, and in my estimation, was the best rally game ever at the time.
So you can imagine, when the sequel, Colin McRae Rally 2 was announced, I was more than willing to get it. And I wasn't disappointed. New cars and new modes, it improved on the original in many ways.
The third and fourth games came out for PS2 later on. As good as they were, they would be surpassed by Colin McRae Rally 2005, which even my mates, who mostly weren't rallying fans like me, enjoyed playing too. One of my memories is my mate Mike taking a Peugeot 205 Group B car round a stage and losing all his tyres and finishing the stage on four rims!! I had a great time with it. You could even rally a Ford Transit Supervan!!
With the release of the X-Box 360 and the PS3, the series received a makeover. As well as rallying, the new game would incorporate Rallycross, Hillclimb and other off road racing such as buggies and trucks. The new look would bring a new name for the series: Colin McRae: DiRT.
I actually didn't own this game until a couple of years ago, as I was playing a lot of other stuff at the time, but it was an instant classic, as the new off road disciplines added a new depth to the gameplay. Stadium trucks, Dakar trucks, buggies, hillclimb cars and trucks, and Rallycross cars along with the different classes of rally cars which had been a staple of the series, made this a must play.
But then, a couple of years later, tragedy struck. Colin McRae sadly died in a helicopter crash in September 2007. It was a terrible blow, as another British rallying hero, Richard Burns, also a WRC champion, had died a few years earlier. For me, another of my racing heroes was gone.
However, at the time, Codemasters were working on a sequel to DiRT, enlisting Ken Block and other X-Games personalities to appear alongside the man himself. Sadly, McRae's death changed those plans. Ken Block became the new face of the series, but the game retained the Colin McRae name as a tribute. Colin McRae DiRT 2 was released in 2009 and was a fantastic game to play. More new disciplines and cars, and the new personalities made it a fun game, but Codemasters also made it their tribute and thank you to the man who helped start it.
By 2011, DiRT 3 was on the way. It would be the first game to not feature McRae's name in the title, but to everyone, it was still the Colin McRae series. The introduction of Gymkhana, which is fast paced stunt driving, was a fun if challenging addition. DiRT 3 is in my top four games of the series, as I just couldn't put it down.
A year or so later, the series had it's first spinoff, DiRT: Showdown. This was very different to the other games as there was no rallying present. In fact, the only link to any of the other games was the inclusion of Gymkhana. It was mainly off road style racing with banger style cars, demolition derbys, and a lot of goofy style stuff. While I had my initial doubts about it, it turned out to be great fun.
The series went on hiatus for a few years after that. As fun as Showdown was, many thought that the series needed to be about rallying, not hooning. So you can imagine when I heard that a new game, simply called DiRT Rally, was out on Steam on early access, I was eagerly anticipating it's full release on console. (I don't have a decent gaming PC yet.) That day came in May 2016.
The game was a return to the series rallying roots. Out went Gymkhana, land rush and other off road racing, in came pure rallying, hill climb and the FIA World Rallycross championship. The handling was also tweaked, to give it more of a simulator feel. In short, this game is tough, but it's tough in a very fun way. I finally got it for my last birthday from my parents. I watched some of the gameplay videos on Youtube by guys like Kurt J Mac, Tiermetmarduk and Conedodger, and it looked pretty easy. Oh boy, was I wrong!!! But I didn't care, and still don't. It's a fantastic addition to the series, and I love it. But there was more to come.
I'd heard about DiRT 4 a few months back, but due to the fact that money is a bit tight, and I still Had DiRT Rally to play, I thought "Sounds good to me, but I'll wait." So you can imagine my surprise when my girlfriend at the time bought me a present for our first anniversary: DiRT4!
This one brings back buggies, trophy trucks and some aspects of Gymkhana, but still manages to concentrate a lot on rallying. You can even choose between gamer or simulation handling. The best part is that you can build your own team, which builds on the team concept from DiRT Rally. I've been having a great time playing this, and I've barely scratched the surface.
This series is one of my absolute favourites. I love playing it and I love the fact that they have kept the McRae name in through the inclusion of cars, championships and liveries. Would the man himself approve? I think so. The series hasn't missed a step. I still own all of the titles, except the first Colin McRae Rally, Colin McRae 2003 and 2004. I hope one day that I can find some replacements for them. My overall favourites in the series are Colin McRae Rally 2, DiRT 3. DiRT Rally and DiRT 4. But all the games have been great fun and as far as I'm concerned, are a fitting tribute to one of the greatest racing heroes of all time.
'Til All Are One.
I got the date of Colin McRae's passing wrong, so I have now updated this journal with the correct date.