Review: DiRT Showdown
Over the last 48 hours I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to get stuck in to Codemasters’ new racing title. In all honesty, I’ve been impressed with what the game throws at you in the first few hours of putting the game in the disc tray. First off however, some of you may be unfamiliar with what the DiRT series is. Codemasters originally released “Colin McRae DiRT” back in 2006 and featured an amazing line up of vehicles, events and names behind the game that gave an amazing feeling to play. The game excelled in rally and rally cross events. A few years later, Codies released “Colin McRae DiRT 2″ posthumously keeping McRae’s name in the title after his tragic death. This game to me, was so much more than just a rally sim. It had a great soundtrack, something that the DiRT series has now made a staple of the series, it had a great story mode, the online was as perfect as it could be, and it was the first game that I ever got the full 1000 Gamerscore and began my addiction to achievements. Yep, DiRT 2 is the one to blame.
DiRT 3 rolled out in stores last year, this time dropping Colin McRae’s name, and moving away from the rally focus. However after seeing a few YouTube videos that showed off Gymkhana, I can safely say that Ken Block deserves his name being plastered on the game. DiRT 3 focussed more on showing off, pulling mad tricks and the flair that drivers can put in to racing. This included the new modes, Gymkhana, which allowed you to compete in a points for trick event against 7 others, and Joyride, a mode that allows you to drive through the abandoned Battersea Power Station, collecting hidden collectibles and pulling off tricks, allowing you to unlock more and more of the complex to race in.
From there we move back to DiRT Showdown. This game is a spin-off of the DiRT franchise and aimed towards the non rally fans, the ones who enjoy gametypes such as demolition derby, featured in Codemasters other racing title, GRID, elimination taken from DiRT 2, and the return of Gymkhana in a more structured form, and more like the original Ken Block Gymkhana videos. Joyride returns to the Battersea Compound, but also goes to the other side of the world to the Yokohama Docks. Yokohama is set at night and features some amazingly tight and complex corners and tricks that you can pull off. This time, assists are off and any donuts have to be done manually. It’s a steep learning curve if you want to be able to pull them off now.
My first impressions of the game? “Amazing.” “They’ve done it again.” “How did he manage to score more points than me?” The cars handle well, and once again, the soundtrack suits the game to a tee. I’m currently moving my way through the Pro+ series, and really enjoying the way the tier unlock system takes a step back to GRID and the original Colin McRae DiRT. The more trophies you win, the more events you unlock. So far I’ve competed in Demolition Derbies, elimination events, and perhaps my favourite, Knock Out. The goal is to push your opponents off a platform. You earn points for each knock out and for hitting other cars in a specific way, such as t-boning or running head first into another driver. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Also key to the demolition game types, there is now a “Crashback” feature, which essentially is a kill cam when you hit someone with a reasonable amount of force. Once the Crashback graphic comes up in the bottom corner of your screen, a tap of the RB button will allow the game to cut away to a replay, going slow-mo and showing the impact of your collision. I really enjoyed this in the 8 Ball games where there are crossovers as you can get really intense t-bones going on which in slow-mo, look spectacular.
As for the online, there are solo and team races available. Keeping with trend once again you can search which racing playlist you want to play. You can search for pure track racing in the Racing playlist, use tricks and stunts to test your driving skills in Hoonigan, smash your way to victory in the Demolition playlist, search for crazy games in the Party playlist. And of course, you can always search for “Everything” if you have a hard time choosing.
As with lag or anything such as loading times online, there hasn’t been any. The game loads as of it were an offline race. A new feature is the inclusion of more than one other team to race against. On DiRTs of old, there was only red vs blue in a maximum of four versus four. Now it looks as if the 8 sports can be split into 4 teams, in a 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 fashion.
What don’t I like about DiRT Showdown? Although Codemasters have done an amazing job on this game, a lot of it is recycled, whether it be from DiRT 3 or from previous titles. They’ve improved all of these greatly, but I guess they’ve exhausted their creative for a little while. I’m hoping that DiRT 4 when (if) released will have to include some new features, otherwise I can see the series growing stale very quickly.
Only two camera angles are available when you’re driving, behind the car in the classic racing angle and on the bonnet. Where have the inside views gone? Both DiRT 2 and 3 had the ability to have your avatar hanging down from the rear view mirror, but from what I can see, that has gone too. I may be wrong, but it just seems as if they’ve skimped on a few customisable options from previous titles.
DiRT Showdown is out now in the UK on Xbox 360. For a spin-off, is it worth it? I’d have to say yes to that, looking back at the progression of the DiRT series I can see just how the series has improved every time. This is no exception. It adds new features in, as well as bringing back some old favourites. I highly recommend this game to any racing fan, or a fan of the series. This is definitely one to consider.
Review: DiRT Showdown Results
What we liked:
The Showdown Tour has a steady learning curve
All the cars handle really well
What we disliked:
A lot of recycled content from previous titles
Limited camera angles
Health can be annoying in racing modes