Not so very long ago (in fact, about seven reviews back), I gave a lukewarm reception to Milestone's little rally effort that had Sebastian Loeb scribbled all over it.

It was pretty poe of face, which is rare for a racing game that doesn't have the words 'Turismo' and 'Gran' slapped on its front. But while DiRT has buckets more personality than Loeb, it has thankfully shorn its shaggy locks of the over-enthusiastic race-day patter that sounded dated 20 years ago. Gnarly indeed.

Codemasters are the grandfathers of racing games, responsible for annual F1 efforts going back to 2009, the tremendous Grid series and, most importantly, the Colin McRae titles from which the DiRT title was inherited.

We're in soft, comfortable hands here, but DiRT or McRae veterans assuming the driver's seat is already warm are in for an initially rough ride. There have been tweaks, and the ditch beckons for the over-enthusiastic. Additionally, any damage the car takes has serious ramifications, much more so than in previous incarnations. You can always choose to restart like a crying baby, of course, but you'll be penalised for doing so, and this means racing puts on a far more serious face.

Advice: get stuck into the tutorials. Yes they're as boring as Stoke City's back four (and they're not playable, which is bloody irritating) but you'll emerge a peach of a driver. Or a nectarine at the very least. Some kind of soft fruit. Plum - you'll be a tremendous plum, well done you.

Anyway, apart from lacking a split-screen two-player mode (come on, who leaves that out of a racing game?), DiRT Rally passes with filthy, sideways-cornering colours. Just don't expect an easy ride.