Fantastic racing game, that you find very difficult to stop playing once you’ve started.
Once every so often, a game comes along that most people will just look past, because their eyes are firmly fixed on something else (*cough* Modern Warfare *cough*). However, in the instance of DiRT 2, if given the chance, they may well find a game that can give them as much value for money as the best games on the market.
DiRT 2 is an all-terrain, rally racing game that puts you in the position of one of the drivers at a racing festival. Codemasters, the guys behind this, already have DiRT 1, as well as a whole host of high quality racing games, all with the mark of one of rallying’s greatest drivers, Colin McRae, who tragically died in a helicopter accident.
This one is the first one after his death, and Codemasters decided to pay some respect to the man, by producing what I can honestly say as being the best game in the Colin McRae Rally series yet, and that’s hard to do, as the first one is one of my favourite games of any genre.
When you start DiRT 2, you’re enticed into the gameplay by some flashy pre-rendered gameplay, mixed with a few shots of what the game looks like while you’re playing it. And seriously, it’s very hard to differentiate with the detail. DiRT 2 is very visually impressive, whether it’s because of the wide rocky landscapes, or the festival atmosphere nailed to a tee, or the bits of muddy water that get flicked up onto your windscreen as you race through puddles.
Speaking of which, DiRT 2 is one of the first games where I’ve felt truly and completely comfortable racing in 1st person view. The attention to detail on the car and the environment around you is so high, that you find yourself engrossed by putting yourself in the driving seat.
And to accompany this, there are a whole host of different game modes that you can compete in, to get the best experience out of both 3rd and 1st person views. The DiRT Tour, which is effectively the single player, gives you the opportunity to race in 100 different races from around the world, as well as X-Games, a series of knockout races that result in someone winning a big lump sum and some experience points, which go towards your very well implemented levelling system. The system is compiled of numbers, simply, which go up as you race more.
You’re rewarded more points for finishing 1st, but you can also earn points by performing mini missions ingame, such as overtaking a certain number of cars, or jumping a combined distance over ramps.
Everything about the single player flows brilliantly. You become engrossed in the atmosphere of every event, helped brilliantly by a little addition of relationships between the other drivers, who become your friends as you progress through the game.
Another addition, which is far and away the best implementation for those tricky, bendy races, is the flashback system, which allows you, depending on the difficulty level you chose, to rewind crashes, and have a second attempt at somewhere where you went wrong.
This is very useful, especially if you’re in first person, as you don’t always see everything.
Adding to the experience, you can select, as you progress through the ranks, a car that suits you from a whole range of them. DiRT 2 proudly holds host to a MASSIVE selection of cars, which all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right car can affect the outcome of the race, as some handle better than others, whilst some have much better power.
And car choices can be very important when the time comes for you to venture out into the big wide world of multiplayer racing, where you can pit your skils against up to 7 other racers across many events. Like the single player, you can earn experience points for racing, which go towards your fame level, rather than your tour level.
I bet you’re thinking: this review has been nothing but praise. But that’s the thing: I was trying to find flaws in the game, and it was very, very difficult. If I had to poke holes in DiRT 2, it would be that on the odd occasion, as was pointed out in the 360 review of this game, the curse of the metal bushes strikes again. You can, if you ricochet off into the unknown, find yourself being flung off by a harmless, but very solid, piece of shrubbery. Also, the sound level dips slightly after high impact, and even though this is presumably meant to simulate a dying car, it can be a little disorientating if you are driving in 3rd person.
Even with those little flaws, DiRT 2, without a shadow of a doubt, is one of, if not the best, racer to date. It’s blend of fantastic visuals, brilliant racing mechanics, vast single player and very enjoyable multiplayer, makes this is highly enjoyable game. It, for me, is the best game of the year so far, and when Forza 3 is released, as well as Blur, I’m going to find myself hard pressed to tear myself away from this to be more enthralled in them.