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DiRT 4 Review

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Graphics:

I wish I could say the game looks fantastic, amazing, wonderful, or some other very positive adjective, but the truth is it just looks good to me and I would not go many notches above that. I should probably also admit I am giving it some leeway as well, because being a racing game, one can expect much of the scenery to be passing by so quickly that you do not notice any issues with it. Only those assets that are in constant view, such as the vehicle, must be of excellent detail and quality, and I honestly cannot think of any blemish I have observed on them. The environment is not so lucky.

I am unsure how well the screenshots capture some of this, but the people watching along the sides of the course do not look very good, when you take the time to look at them. As I already stated, you can expect to be traveling past them at a high speed, so it is the presence and not their visuals that matter. However, when you are waiting for the countdown to finish so you can roar off onto the track in a Rally race with all those people standing around, it is almost difficult to not notice how flat they can look.

Some of the vegetation is also like this, especially the trees as the leaves seem to be in visible bunches instead of a more coherent mass. It is the lighting of these clumps that gives it away to me. The grass and other vegetation along the ground also can appear to just be thrown on top of the ground texture, but to be fair there are plenty of other games that also look like this, and lack the psychovisual-excuse of high speeds to hide this.

I really do not hold this against the game because I personally would trade a high quality environment that blurs by you anyway for better performance, which I do not doubt was the decision to the developers as well.

The textures for the ground are quite detailed, which has become clear as I reviewed the screenshots. They looked good as I played, but it is harder to notice the finer details when at speed. I have not noticed any specific pattern to the textures, in case you were wondering, so if it is there, the seam is well hidden.

 

 

The vehicles look rather good to me, at least when clean with the sky and environment able to reflect off of the surface. When dirty these reflections are obviously hidden, but also the layer of dirt does not always look that good to me. It is definitely nice to see the effect the surface material has on the car body and wheels, but I think the coloring just feels off to my brain. My brain could easily be wrong here (I am not at all on expert on this) but I feel like there should be some more variation to the color the layer of dirt and dust brings, so it does not look quite so flat. One exception to this appearance is the Service Area, where you can see a mud-covered vehicle propped up with the splatter in full view, with what I am guessing is some normal mapping for added depth.

Vehicle damage looks alright to me, though I am unsure how accurate it is. With the kinds of accidents I have gotten in, the car should probably have more than some bent panels and cracks in the windshield. Still, it clearly shows the vehicle is damaged and perhaps the Simulation setting, as opposed to the Gamer setting I have been playing on, is more accurate.

 

 

Next up is performance, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1080 8 GB
  • PhysX: NVIDIA GTX 1070 8 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Version 1703 – Creators Update)
  • Drivers: GeForce Game Ready Driver v. 382.53

I played with the settings at their maximum, except for motion blur which I disabled, as is my usual. For the most part, the performance at these settings for me was good, but was not able to keep at the 60 FPS mark too often. As I mentioned earlier, capturing accurate frame time data from DiRT 4 is not easy because it requires Alt-Tabbing out of the game and back in, but I still did this to create the frame time and display time videos embedded below. As you can see in these that 60 FPS/16.7 ms mark was not easily achieved or kept, but there were still times the performance went above, it just tended to be a bit below. (Curiously at least in the overlay videos, there appeared to be more juddering in the video recorded than I recall experiencing or than what the OCAT data suggests.)

 

 

To be completely honest, this performance does not worry me at all. I feel that optimizations through patches and new drivers will come and improve these numbers, and one advantage to playing on maximum (playable) settings is that there tends to be plenty of room to step options down. In this case I intend to at least drop the anti-aliasing setting down to MSAA 4x from 8x, and to lower the anisotropic filtering as well.

Something else potentially worth noting before getting to the videos is that I have been playing using Borderless Windowed. As we saw in Serious Statistics, the Desktop Window Manager adds double-buffering to all windows when not using exclusive fullscreen, so while I have the in-game v-sync turned off, there is still this v-sync being applied. However, for my computer at least, this does not appear to negatively impact performance, at least not in any significant way. That means the frame time numbers should be consistent with what I would get if playing in exclusive fullscreen mode, though the display time data would be different. (Remember, display time, or more accurately MsBetweenDisplayChange, is the time between frames being sent to the display, and with v-sync enabled, this falls on multiples of 16.7 ms for my 60 Hz monitor, or on zero if the frame was dropped. Without v-sync, display time can be any value.)

 

 

 

 

The graphics do look good where they need to and can seem to be lacking where one is less likely to be looking (ie. off the track). The performance is good and while it could be better, that is based on playing at maximum settings where there is plenty of room to turn options down or off for better frame rates. Also, it is my guess that optimizations will improve things as those patches come out.

 




  1. DiRT 4 Review - Introduction
  2. DiRT 4 Review - Graphics
  3. DiRT 4 Review - Gameplay
  4. DiRT 4 Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  5. DiRT 4 Review - Conclusion
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