I had great hopes for this game: Dirt’s engine adapted to circuit races (and refined for a year), that was promising. The graphics are as good as expected, the physics model seems perfectly realistic, and the demo is too short to really test the artificial intelligence but I never saw it fail — and with any other racing game you’d only have to take one wide turn to stumble against its failings.
So this is very close to the ideal racing game… yet there’s a “but”: you can’t feel when the car is about to drift. With traction control enabled, no problem (although what’s the point of having such a realistic engine if you’re going to have assists on?); but if you turn it off you just can’t feel the wheels losing grip — no sound (which in general is the game’s weakness), no rumble (and that’s a pity, because the San Francisco jumps, on the other hand, feel more realistic than anything I’ve played). Sure, a real car does not warn with noises and vibrations before it drifts, but you feel it through other ways, and that’s the one point where a simulation ought to step away from pure realism.
Back to GTA IV it is, then; I’ve never had this much fun on multiplayer races.