Colin McRae: DiRT was first released in 2007 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. DiRT possesses a wide variety of vehicles to choose from; these range from the regular 2WD and 4WD rally car classes, to massive big rigs and rally raid trucks.
Colin McRae: DiRT 2 (or just DiRT 2) employed an 'extreme sports' style, with fluid, first person menus set in vibrant settings, as well as a heavy emphasis on pleasing the fans and becoming a star. In addition, the trophy trucks and buggies were the highlight of the game, with traditional rally races taking a backseat. With the success of Ken Block's Gymkhana videos supposedly generating buzz in rally interest, he and several other rally stars were roped in to add a human element, whilst acting as consultants on how the cars handle.
DiRT 3 set out to go back in the more simplistic style route of DiRT, all the while retaining features which made DiRT 2 stand out. Rally took center stage again, yet kept the Trailblazer and Landrush (trophy trucks and buggies) from DiRT 2 to keep the variety. Ken Block again helped with vehicle and handling consulting, as well as help add a much-requested Gymkhana mode.
DiRT Showdown was released on May of 2012. The game is more arcade-y than its predecessors, putting more focus on Gymkhana and putting in more modes, such as demolition derbies and party games. It was made into an actual Arcade Game by Sega in 2014, simply titled Showdown.
DiRT Rally went back to the series' roots, with a far more realistic handling model and a heavy focus on traditional rally. The game entered Steam's Early Access in April 2015. The full release came out on 7 December in the same year through Steam and it was released for both PC and eighth-gen consoles on April 5, 2016.
DiRT 4 was announced on January 26, 2017. Released in June, it's much closer to the Rally titles than its more lackdaisical predecessors. It features a random stage generator called Your Stage, as well as more officially licenced rallycross circuits and a new playground/driving school area called Dirtfish Rally School, based on the real-world rally school of the same name. The game marks the comeback of Landrush, and there are two handling models, one more arcade-y and akin to DiRT 3, and the other more simulation-oriented and closer to DiRT Rally. Nicky Grist also returned to provide his co-driving voice, after his absence since the original DiRT.
DiRT Rally 2.0 was announced on September 26, 2018. The game features rally courses from Poland, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and United States as well as 8 official tracks from FIA World Rallycross Championship. The game was released on February 26, 2019, and featured former co-driver Phil Mills as he lent his voice for the game. Most of the stages from the first edition were eventually ported across with graphical improvements, with the exception of the Pikes Peak hillclimb as the licence was no longer available.
DIRT 5 was announced during the Xbox Live Presentation on May 7, 2020, and is set for release for current-gen consoles and Microsoft Windows October 16 of the same year, and a release for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S in 2021. The game goes back to the aesthetics of 2 and 3 and includes many of the disciplines from the previous titles - including buggies, super trucks, ice racing, rallycross and gymkhana. The game also introduces a full weather and seasons system where certain events are only available on determined seasons. Finally, a full-fledged livery editor a la Forza is also included for the first time ever in a Codemasters game and a narrative-focused career mode featuring the voice talents of Troy Baker and Nolan North.
Not to be confused with the short-lived FX Network series.
The games provide examples of:
- Advanced Movement Technique: Just as in real life, the 'Scandinavian Flick' - turning the opposite direction on approach to a corner to scrub off speed, before swinging abruptly round the apex in smooth slide with minimal braking - works very effectively to improve times.
- Anachronism Stew: The Colin McRae career scenarios and the "Historical Champinship" from Rally 2 have authentic period cars, but the stages themselves are unchanged with modern advertisements, vehicles and spectators holding smartphones. Justified in the historical's case as there are some championships with retro cars.
- Anti-Frustration Features: DiRT 2 and 3 borrow the Flashback mechanic from another Codemasters' racing series, GRiD.
- DiRT Rally 2 allows up to five stage resets on a rally in championship mode
- Call-Back: If you're driving the Subaru Impreza Rally S4 from DiRT Rally 2.0's "Flat Out" DLC Pack, you'll be greeted by the digital speedometer from Colin McRae Rally 2.0 on the dashboard.
- Car Fu:
- Rallycross races in all DiRT games. Truth in Television however, as rallycross usually has the drivers swapping paint.
- The whole point of DiRT Showdown.
- Continuity Nod: Take a close look at the laptop in your trailer in DiRT 2. It's playing the original DiRT!
- Cool Car: Even the scrappy 2WD hot hatches featured throughout all of the Colin McRae series are highly and finely tuned dirt-slinging machines.
- Cultural Translation - Many of the old-school Colin McRae Rally fans complained about the "Americanness" of the DiRT installments, especially the second one.
- Difficult, but Awesome: Group B cars are hard to tame especially with DiRT Rally's physics like in real life, with enough experience they are a blast to rally around with and are hands down the fastest accelarating cars in the game. On asphalt especially, where the imprecise handling, and the often very sizeable torque steer and body roll, can be compensated for with setup tweeks, they are competetive with the modern cars.
- Rally Finland with it's massive jumps and very high speeds is very hard to master without some huge wipeouts, but is a big thrill to nail a quick run through a stage.
- Elite Tweak: So many settings to change in the first DiRT... So does DiRT Rally.
- Fauxrrari: While all of the games have had licensed vehicles, the beat-up derby vehicles in Showdown marks the first instance in the series where fictional cars based on real-world models are used. Licensed vehicles return for the arena modes, though.
- Golden Snitch: DiRT Showdown's "Knock-Out" and "Rampage" modes both dish out double points during the final 30 seconds of a round, making it possible to come from behind to win.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels:
- Interface Screw: A damaged radio in DiRT Rally and on will occasionally introduce static into your co-driver's radio communication, potentially blocking out whatever pace notes they are reading at the time. If the option to display visual pace notes in the HUD is turned on, the block-out pace note's onscreen counterpart will likewise be obscured with visual static.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The Subaru Impreza Group N in DiRT2 is this; a car that can easily take the top three in any of the "interchangeable disciplines" (Trailblazer/Rally/Rallycross), but isn't powerful enough to really dominate any one discipline.
- Nintendo Hard: DiRT Rally is so very much this. Even in the 60's Open division, the league the player starts in, it takes both crash-free and quick driving to consistently win stages, never mind rallies. More modern and faster classes, like Group B and the 2010's category aren't any easier.
- No Smoking: Older cars from decades when tobacco sponsorships were still commonplace (the '555' on the Subaru Impreza, the 'HB International' on the Audi Quattro) have the logos removed. Related, the Martini Lancias are also absent.
- Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: In DiRT Rally, falling off a steep side of the track returns you to the track with a 15 second penalty. However, this doesn't apply to all stages, as some of them are implied to be such a steep drop that the car is unrecoverable, instantly taking 90% damage before the car impacts.
- Old Save Bonus:
- Having a DiRT 1 save game gives you the No Fear Gold paintjob for the Subaru Impreza Group N in DiRT 2, the same paint scheme McRae used in the 2006 X Games.
- Also, if you have a GRiD save game, and you'll be rewarded with a Ravenwest livery for the said Impreza too.
- Owning a save game of Overlord 2 will unlock you a Overlord Minion dashboard toy.
- Plot Coupon: After every world tour or X Games you complete, all of your cars will have a sticker showing your achievement on the dashboard.
- Product Placement:
- Play DiRT 2 for a few minutes, and then start wondering why you suddenly want a pair of DC Shoes, some Superdry gear, a pair of Oakleys and a 6-pack of Monster Energy. This is actually one of the few things the game got flak for in many of the reviews.
- DiRT 3 was more subtle about it, however the game wants you to post them on YouTube after every races.
- DiRT Showdown lives off of this.
- Randomly Generated Levels: The whole point of Your Stage.
- Revisiting the Roots: DiRT Rally was deliberately developed as a technically up-to-date no-nonsense Nintendo Hard rally simulation game, in the vein of the preceding Colin McRae Rally series and once-rival titles such as Richard Burns Rally. Codemasters kept the game's existence under wraps until the last minute, in order to give fans of their older rally titles a real surprise. Given the positive reception of the game, it seems to have paid off.
- Scenery Porn:
- The DiRT series features some of the best PC and console graphics ever put to screen. From huge rallycross circuits (sometimes) based on stadiums (such as the real life Los Angeles Coliseum!), to the epic rally stages of Finland, Kenya, and even Monaco, Codemasters really knows what they do in graphics.
- Even better are the main menus. DiRT 1 has a minimalistic menu, DiRT 2 had the menu options scattered around a huge arena scenario, DiRT 3 went back to the roots, while Showdown had a crossover between 2 and 3's menus. DiRT Rally has also went the same route as 1 and 3.
- Sequel Series: Techically one to Colin McRae Rally, with the first DiRT being a sequel to Rally 2005 (also due to Colin McRae branding in Europe). The branding was dropped after DiRT 2, due in respects of the namesake driver passed away after a tragic crash that took his life.
- Shout-Out: Some of DiRT 3's achievements, including:
- Truth in Television: Said Peugeot 307 rally car is also very fragile in Real Life.
- Vague Hit Points: Rally has vehicle damage only presented by physical damage to the car, or by some events such as the radiator beginning to heat up. Once outside the race, damage is presented in exact percentages.