Reviews

DiRT 3 – Review

Release Date: Out Now!
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: Yes
Multiplayer: 2-8 Players
PEGI: 12

 Codemasters had their work cut out to deliver a title better than DiRT 2. Despite having gone all “extreme” and losing its rally focus, it gave us a stunning handling model that delivered all the excitement of sliding a car around a mud covered corner. But for DiRT 3 Codemasters listened to the fans and have somehow delivered a title that is better than DiRT 2.

In DiRT 3 Codemasters have shifted their focus back to the series roots and put a heavier emphasis on point to point stages like the standard Rally events and the Trailblazer events. The vast majority of events during the games main career mode are now rally or trailblazer events. This isn’t to say that DiRT has abandoned the other types of racing; Rallycross racing is still present, as is racing trucks and buggies. They’re still as fun as ever, but now they don’t overshadow and dominate the point to point racing as they did in DiRT 2.

Adding to this line-up of game types comes Gymkhana, courtesy of the new face of DiRT, Ken Block. This new sport (?) has become quite the sensation on Youtube, but if you’re not familiar with it then it essentially means taking an overpowered car and going a bit mental in a compound filled with obstacles. In-game this means you have a set amount of time to blitz the compound performing drifts, spins, donuts and jumps to score points. It’s a brilliant addition to the roster, and really gives you a good way to improve your general driving skills. If you can slide a car between a digger and a concrete pipe then navigating a corner should be no problem. Gymkhana events don’t come too often which ensures that each time they do come around they feel fun and fresh and make for a perfect break from the usual racing.

All of these game modes are present in the returning DiRT Tour which has gotten a bit of a makeover. The whole global map has been ditched in favour of unfolding triangles. Seriously, triangles are this years squares. Pick a season and the triangle unfolds to present you with different tours and picking one of those again unfolds the triangle to give you a choice of events. It’s a stylish  new menu system. Other than the new look there has been a few other changes in the DiRT tour; each event won gives you points toward unlocking other events like special DC challenges or toward unlocking the end of season X-Games. A big change is how you unlock cars and teams; unlike DiRT 2 you no longer gain money to buy cars with, instead you gain XP for every victory and the more XP you get the more cars you unlock to play with. Another new addition comes in the form of the DC compound which you can jump to during the tour and just mess around in. New sections get unlocked as you progress through the seasons, and each new part contains even more fantastic layouts for you to slide, spin, jump and crash in. It’s easily the most fun addition to the series as it provides the perfect place to practice your skills or just screw around.

New modes don’t mean much if the handling isn’t up to spec, and thankfully Codies have delivered again. The handling is carefully balanced to provide a fairly arcadey driving experience that somehow disguises itself as feeling quite realistic. A twitch of the analogue stick will send your car into a graceful slide that needs to be carefully managed through use of the throttle, brakes and hysteria.. The handling is easy to pick up and before long you’ll be racing with the best and feeling like a racing god, yet it offers more than enough depth for those willing to spend long hours perfecting their rally skills until they can rival the best of them. The key to the handling is simple; no matter how skilled you are, you always feel as though you’re on the edge, barely keeping the car under control. it’s a hard balance to strike, but somehow Codemasters have managed it and the result is exhilarating. For diehard fans of DiRT and DiRT 2 it is important to note that the handling is more forgiving this time around, or more “noob friendly” if you will. Slides are generally easier to hold and spins feel simpler to control.

Your driving skills can be augmented or challenged by an array of driving assists that can be flicked on or off. There’s a pretty wide choice of options to help customise the games handling to your liking, from ABS to full driving lines. The most noticable assists are for the Gymkhana mode. These assists make it far easier to spin your car or donut around a post, but tend to spoil the illusion somewhat as you can actually see the assist activate and drag your car toward the correct line for the trick. The Flashback system also makes a comeback to help out those who cannot get around a corner without crashing into a tree. In essence it means you can rewind time with a tap of the button. Well, more than one button. Again, it’s entirely optional so those who want a challenge can completely ignore it, turn off the assists and drive in the great cockpit view for the ultimate rally experience.

Take the game online and you’ll also find that they’ve been busy adding new stuff here as well. All the basic modes such as rally, Rallycross and Trailblazer are all present and correct, but you can also take part in a capture the flag style game mode called Transporter, a version of Tag with cars called Infection, or even Outbreak which has you smashing cardboard cut-out robots to score points. Once you’ve got eight players racing around it becomes amazing fun, though it can be a little chaotic at times, but that just adds to the fun. It’s also relatively lag free and extremely easy to get into games with friends.

Codemasters have again proved that they know how to make a damn fine racing game. They took they criticisms of DiRT 2 and fixed them while adding in some brilliant new features.

The Good:
+ Sliiiiiiiide that car!
+ I feel like a Gymkhana God!
+ DC Compound is great.

The Bad:
– I miss the more rock orientated music of DiRT 2.
– Buggies still feel a bit out-of-place.

Scores:

Graphics: 9
Cars look fantastic and trackside detail is great, even if you are going too quick to notice.

Sound: 8.5
The cars have a nice grown and sound real. The new soundtrack doesn’t sit as well as DiRT 2’s, though.

Story: 0
Car.

Gameplay: 9
Rally finally returns to the spotlight, and Gymkhana adds some brilliant spice to the game. Throw in some great online modes and you’ve got a winner

Lifespan: 8.5
The DiRT Tour is pretty packed and multiplayer is very addictive.

Overall: 9
The DiRT series just got better with brilliant handling, new game types, new look and great online. If you love Rally or racing games then this deserves a place on your shelf.

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