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DiRT: The Best Games In The Series, Ranked

Ever since kicking up dust in 2007, Codemasters’ off-road racing video game DiRT has continued to increase its popularity. Initially named the Colin McRae Rally series after the famed Scottish racecar driver of the same name, the game line was rebranded following McRae’s death in 2007. In the wake of the tragedy, the game was repackaged as DiRT, of which there are currently eight editions.

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The newest iteration of the racing series includes DiRT 5, which was released in November 2020. The game was nominated for Best Sports/Racing Game at The 2020 Game Awards.

Updated on April 6th, 2022 by Tanner Fox: Released in November 2020, DiRT 5 remains the most current installment in Codemasters’ lauded rallycross series. While it wasn’t the most highly-acclaimed title, it was a serviceable experience that offered some stunning visuals and sated fans of the sport.

Today, most of the focus from fans is placed on the titles which released after 2012 when the Colin McRae heading was officially dropped. However, the series had existed for more than a decade prior to that point, and, while not all of the entries in the franchise were particularly notable, some acted as early pillars in the burgeoning racing sim genre.

10 Dirt: Showdown (2012)

Until Dirt: Showdown in 2012, Codemasters established rally series was nearly an annual occurrence. When rushing the fourth installment in a year’s time, the results showed.

Released one year after Dirt 3, Showdown received its lowest aggregate score from such reviewers as GameRankings and Metacritic. The arcade-style spin-off comprised several Tour events, with the winner granted prize money to spend on auto upgrades and unlocking advanced courses.

9 Dirt 5 (2020)

Dirt-5

Despite being the franchise’s most current entry, Dirt 5 ranks pretty low on the series totem pole. Ranging from 75-81% on Metacritic depending on the platform, the game has higher ratings on Xbox than it does on Playsation.

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Dirt 5 offers a series of specialized driving skills such as rallycross, ice racing, dune-buggy racing, big wheeling, etc. Players venture across the globe from the U.S. and Europe to Asia, South America, and Africa. The game comes equipped with a career mode that allows players to race a rival in a skein of championship races.

8 Dirt Rally 2.0 (2019)

Dirt-rally-2-vr

With an average Metacritic rating of 83/100 to go with its 87/100 PC Gamer and 8.5/10 IGN ratings, Dirt Rally 2.0 is a solid entry into the Codemasters canon. Yet, it doesn’t even crack the upper half of the series’ best.

Dirty Rally 2.0 finds inclement weather and off-road racing in such exotic locales as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Greece, Monte Carlo, and more in a visual design that in part mirrors the original Dirt Ralley (2015). The game was nominated for a slew of awards, including the Best Sports/Racing Game at The Games Award 2019.

7 Colin McRae: Dirt (2007)

colin_mcrae_dirt_10

Also known in North America as Dirt: Colin McRae Off-Road, the first entry into the popular spinoff racing series still ranks in the middle of the critical pack. With the new name came a reimagined visual tableau that included new cars, graphics, audio details, and an upgraded gaming engine. The game also offers players three different modes: Career, Championship, and Rally World.

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Revolving around a skein of World Rally Championship events, the game currently boasts an 83/100 average Metascore rating and an equivalent 83% score on GameRankings.

6 Dirt 4 (2017)

DiRT-4-Mac

With a whopping 9.2/10 IGN rating to go with its 9/10 marks from Game Informer, GameSpot, and Polygon, Dirt 4 is among the most beloved entries in the popular racing series. The sequel focuses on timed rally car races in five international locations and five rallycross tracks throughout Europe.

With a management mode that allows players to hire experts to repair and upgrade vehicles, increase sponsorship, and handle behind-the-scenes business, the game also offers a wide range of race cars ranging from the 1980s to the 2010s.

5 Dirt Rally (2015)

Dirt-rally

According to most, Dirt Ralley is the third-best game in the series to date. With an 86/10 Metacritic rating and an average of 85% GameRankings, the game was praised for its diverse range of 36 racetracks and one-on-one multiplayer mode upgrade.

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With a wide selection of rally cars ranging from various classes in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 2000s, and 2010s, much of the action takes place in rocky tarmacs and choppy off-road tracks in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Norway, England, Wales, and Greece.

4 Colin McRae Rally 04 (2004)

A screenshot from the video game Colin McRae Rally 04.

Though it continued to bear the driver’s name, the Colin McRae series was, in the early 2000s, taking more of a Madden approach, acting as an annual representation of a sport instead of a narrower look at a figure within that sport. Allowing players to select from a variety of cars and co-drivers and offering up a selection of tracks from the 2004 WCR season, Colin McRae Rally 04 broached a new realm of realism.

While fan-favorite installments like DiRT 3 still have it beat, Colin McRae Rally 04 fine-tuned the notoriously tough control scheme and offered a handful of welcomed advancements in the rapidly-evolving series.

3 Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (2009)

DIRT 2

Despite the limp ratings for its PSP and Wii variants, Colin McRae: Dirt 2 is one of the overwhelming favorites among the 14-yea-old racing series. The game broke the mold of its predecessor by offering Special Gatecrasher, Domination, and Last Standing modes to go along with an online multiplayer mode fitted for up to eight players.

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The game also features real-life racers Ken Block, Dave Mirra, Travis Pastrana, and more as players race across off-road tracks on four different continents. With 9/10 grades from IGN UK, GameStop, and Game Trailers, Colin McRae: Dirt 2 retooled the entire series and injected exciting new life into virtual racing.

2 Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (2000)

A screenshot of the video game Colin McRae Rally 2.0.

Though an undeniably dated title released for the original PlayStation in 2000, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 was a genre trendsetter regarded by some as the best installment in the series. With precise controls, an unforgettable multiplayer mode, and some startlingly realistic visuals—for the time, at least—it was a must-own title for anyone remotely interested in the sport.

Such was this game’s popularity that it received a mobile conversion in 2013 which was later ported to PC. That, despite the enhanced visuals, was widely considered to be a butchered mockery of the fantastic original.

1 Dirt 3 (2011)

DIRT 3

Winner of the IGN Editor’s Choice Award, Dirt 3 boasts a staggering 87% on GameRankings to equal its 87/100 Metascore. The primary game mode allows players to gain marketing points by winning events to help attract new sponsors and obtain new vehicles.

The game also comes with callbacks to Colin McRae Dirt 2, which players can use up to five times but cost points to do so. Although the PC version ran into some technical issues, Dirt 3: Complete Edition has been released on various platforms from 2012 to 2015.

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