The Fitzgerald Scale – DiRT Rally 2.0 and Horizon Chase Turbo: Hyper Realism Vs Arcade-Styled Fun in Racing Games

I believe I’ve been forthcoming with my opinions on the racing genre before, but for those who haven’t been present for those moments, I will reiterate my feelings in this here openin’ paragraph (and it might spill over into the second one if it gets a bit long). As someone who has little to no interest in motor vehicles and doesn’t really enjoy the act of driving itself, when it comes to racing and driving games, I prioritise action-packed fun over realism. Games like Gran Turismo, where realistic driving mechanics are implemented and cars are painstakingly created to mirror how they look and drive in real life, do very little for me.

I find the idea of playing one of those games to be an exercise in frustration and boredom. No, what entices me to get behind the wheel are the Burnouts and Mario Karts of the world, where frantic arcade-styled action is brought to the fore and having fun is prioritised over producing a meat and potatoes driving simulation. This was made ever clearer to me when I decided to give DiRT Rally 2.0 a go this week. seeing as it was recently free to download for those with a PS Plus subscription. Knowing nothing about the game itself other than it involved rally racing, I opted to try it out seeing as I’d previously had fun with SEGA Rally on the Saturn.

However, once I’d finally booted the game up and played it for a while, I was quick to shut it down and uninstall it in frustration. DiRT Rally 2.0 was a grind for me and not a pleasant one either. It tests your endurance as a player in a way that I imagine big rally fans would quite enjoy, with long stages of 12-15 minutes testing your skill and patience. Personally, I found it to be mentally draining in a manner that just wasn’t fun, with one single mistake in the second minute leading to ten minutes of agony, especially if you happened to lose a tyre in the process or something.

Graphically, I thought the game looked great, and the cars can suffer an impressive level of damage, which earned it a couple of Mikey bonus points, but the constant thought going through my mind whilst attempting to play the game was “this isn’t fun”, and when you think that about something you’re doing in what is supposed to be your leisure time, then you should probably stop and reassess. Again, if slogging through dirt roads and going around corners at 20 miles an hour so that your car doesn’t go flying off the course down a mountainside sounds like fun, then DiRT Rally 2.0 will probably quench your thirst, but if that sounds tedious and bloody angering to you, then it likely will be.

Seeing as I now didn’t have enough to write about for an article due to not feeling it possible to keep playing, I decided to pick up another game that I downloaded thanks to my PS Plus membership, which was Horizon Chase Turbo. Whereas DiRT Rally 2.0 tries to turn the realism up to 11, Horizon Chase Turbo is all about pick up and play, accessible, high-speed arcade hi-jinks where you are encouraged to go as fast as you like and swerve past other racers in a quest to make it to the chequered flag first.

Everything from the gameplay to the art scheme is designed to distort reality rather than recreate it faithfully, with real-life landmarks and scenery getting warped by delightfully garish 16-Bit inspired graphics. Horizon Chase Turbo is all about taking you back to the arcade, with special nitro power-ups allowing you to charge ahead whilst flames come out of your exhaust pipe. Smashing into the scenery may send your car flipping and flopping around the course, but you’ll soon be right back up on your wheels to keep motoring ahead.

It shouldn’t surprise you at all to learn that I had far more fun with Horizon Chase Turbo than I did with DiRT Rally 2.0 as the former is far more tuned into what I like from a racing game, whilst the latter is almost completely opposed to it. That being said, I wouldn’t say that DiRT Rally 2.0 is a bad game as such; it’s just not the sort of game I personally would like to play. In my opinion, the fact that both games exist is a real positive because niche games that scratch a certain itch for a certain type of player are something we need more of, not less.

I may not personally want to play DiRT Rally 2.0, but thanks to a game like Horizon Chase Turbo, I don’t have to. Choice is so important in this wacky industry, and any time we see two such different games sharing space with one another, then it is a cause for celebration because it means that everyone can have something they like, and that’s a good thing. So, if you love DiRT Rally 2.0,  then keep enjoying it, and I’ll keep enjoying Horizon Chase Turbo, and we can all be happy! More of this, please, gaming industry.

The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”

Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave

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