Colin McRae: Dirt 2
With a lineup like this racing the racing fans amongst you will be getting to the finish with drool on their shoes! With tot titles like NfS: SHIFT, Forza 3, Gran Turismo 5, Blur and Split Second the rubber tires will be melting from the heat as there’s some rest is not coming up anytime soon. With Colin McRae: DiRT 2 Codemasters already puts down a decent wheelprint in this genre and takes on the heavy competition all too fondly. The death of the racer himself was a sad thing but luckily DiRT 2 pays honors to the rally legend in many points.
After the fantastic intro movie Ken Block is ready to give you some info on how you progress in the game as well as what are the do’s and don’ts. The entire menu is situated in your caravan where giant letters show you the options MULTIPLAYER, STATISTIC, CARREER and VEHICLES. Of course everything is centered around the career mode where you start as rookie to climb up the ladder with horny women, tons of money and a titbit of glory as the ultimate goal.
The career mode is filled with all kinds of different races and locations. You start in the heart of London but quickly Baja, Croatia, Marocco, Japan, Malaysia, China, Utah and Los Angeles are added. In total you’ll have to clear about a hundred events. The races vary from rallycross and gate crushers to domination and trailblazers. Next to that there are also some “throwdowns” where a celebrity racer challenges you to win from him or her in a special race. And last but not least you can participate to the X-games which exist of three different races where you have to end in the Top 4 in order to proceed to the next.
Of course you don’t have access to all events from the start, but you’ll gradually earn XP until you’ve reached a certain level. XP is gathered by winning events or doing some missions. If you for instance do a lot of jumps you’ll get XP for reaching a milestone in that area.
The first thing that gets noticed in a race is how the different surfaces require a drastic adjustment of your driving style. Sand will offer less resistance when cutting corners while asphalt does the opposite and gives you tons of grip. The changement of the surface happens several times during an event which means you’ll constantly need to adapt and be concentrated. The gameplay here can best be compared to the street racing game GRID but dirtier, faster, more American and most of all… better.
On the damage model we’ve got mixed feelings. Visually it’s quite alright with windows flying out in a crash, bumpers getting reshaped and dropping off, and your paint job will need to be redone after a race thanks to the scratches you get to see. However, a visual damage model alone is not enough. I would have liked to see an engine smoking and having to cope with overload, tires that are just about to fall off, clutches that don’t want to shift gear anymore correctly, and so on. We wouldn’t mind something more than just a couple of pixels that die.
Just like GRID and Forza 3, DiRT 2 has a rewind mode. Depending on your difficulty degree you get a numer of rewinds at your disposal. For the more hardcore gamers amongst us this feature will offer nothing to the racing experience, but the more casual racers will appreciate such possibilities enormously. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than an event that needs to be completely redone because you made a small error.
Graphically the game is a bit standard. If you look at some of the other titles coming up, NfS: SHIFT, Forza 3 and GT5, DiRT 2 certainly can’t compete. Not that it’s ugly, but the grindy and rough style dominates a bit too much. The cars look good but could use some more finishing. The surroundings on the other hand do look a lot better, with tons of variation and tough locations. Especially the races in Malaysia are fun to participate in.
Again no offline multiplayer, something that’s really starting to work on my nerves. The last couple of months you’ve been able to count the games with offline multiplayer on one hand. Online multiplayer is present, however, and does what it needs to do; You’ve got the choice between a normal race, domination and trailblazer, and you can play with up to seven other people which a bit on the thin side.
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 is a very fun game. It managed to mix a perfect balance between arcade and simulation and offers a lot of sensation and exciting races. The game has a large variety of good tracks and racing types but unfortunately I personally didn’t get amazed by the graphics and also the lack of offline MP is an outrage. Overall, however, we again get proof that Codemasters knows how to make a racing game!