Legendary Scottish rally driver Colin McRae was a household name in the late '90s and early 2000s, not just for his talent behind the wheel, but for the series of superb rally sims he put his name on. Colin McRae Rally 2.0 was the first driving game I really fell in love with. And although lacking the McRae name, spiritual successor Dirt Rally 2.0 is a fine continuation of the series—and it's fitting that this, of all games, should honour McRae's career.
The latest DLC for Dirt Rally 2.0 is a celebration of all things Colin McRae, letting you relive key moments from his career across the decades, from 1984 to 2006. The DLC is named the Colin McRae: Flat Out Pack, a reference to the driver's famous adage: "If in doubt, go flat out." For a very reasonable £8/$10 you get 12 new routes through Perth and Kinross in Scotland and a couple of new cars: the Subaru Impreza S4 Rally and the Subaru Legacy RS.
But the real highlight is the challenge mode. Here you can choose from 40 different scenarios with unique objectives, each mirroring a pivotal moment in McRae's career. In a 1988 rally in Wales, McRae's Peugeot 205 GTI suffered a damaged engine mount, which forced him to retire. In the DLC's associated challenge, you begin the stage with the same broken engine mount and must place at least 5th, without breaking down, to complete it.
Later, in 1992, McRae finished a rally in Finland having sustained heavy damage after suffering several dramatic rolls. In this challenge you have to survive a brutal three-stage rally in Finland in a badly damaged Subaru Legacy RS, which is a nerve-racking experience. These woodland tracks are littered with sudden, severe jumps, and with every chassis-rattling jolt you run the risk of taking internal damage and being forced to bow out of the rally early.
I love that these aren't just arbitrary challenges, but rooted in actual events. This gives everything you do added context, and it's a unique way to immerse yourself in the history of a sport. Be warned, though: some of these challenges are tough. If you're a Dirt Rally 2.0 first timer, you might want to spend some time playing the base game before you step into McRae's racing boots. Navigating his notoriously powerful, twitchy Ford Escort RS Cosworth through some of those treacherous, snowy Swedish stages is hard work.
You have to complete at least three challenges in each time period to unlock more, but thankfully there are a few easier ones sprinkled in each tier, which makes seeing some of the later stuff relatively easy. If you prefer a more straightforward rally experience, you might find the challenge format a little too gimmicky. But I love it, and I hope other driving games shamelessly steal it. By being put in these wildly different situations, you get to experience everything the simulation has to offer in a clever, compelling way.