Colin McRae: DiRT
Colin McRae: DiRT is probably not what most of the veterans from the series expected. The maker chose for a more arcade approach but in return promise more variation and graphical power, which should make the series a lot more accessible for gamers who aren’t specifically looking for time trials and flawless driving.
What you’ll immediately notice are the graphics. Both the cars, with full damage model, tracks and surroundings look really beautiful and whether you look at them from the very good in-car view or from third person view, they remain equally impressive!
Who kicks on cars will especially appreciate the detail and realism of the models. For the first time we also get damage that gets really well shown. Your front window breaks realistically, paint dribbles off as it should, and you can drop any part of your car in a curve like in the very best action movies. Spectacular crashes against a pole or opponent are also never far away. Your car also collects the necessary dust and dirt and those that really go all the way can completely wreck their car.
Your destructive tendencies can also be cooled on the surruondings. Fences, trees and anything that isn’t attached to something (sheep?) are willing victim to your bumper. But that’s not what gets noticed most in the locations. Especially the light effects and the variation steal the show. Whether you’re in the desert, take a turn on the asphalt in Japan, or drive through muddy roads in England, you’ll constantly get treated to a ton of atmosphere, a lot of detail and an immersion that makes you believe you’re sitting in a racing seat.
The same level is kept in the menus and loading screens that are simply the most beautiful and vivid we’ve ever got to see. They not only flow over your screen in beautiful 3D, they also show all kinds of info on your accomplishments and preferences while driving.
While the makers in Forza 2 chose for the framerate, at cost of some visual details, it’s clear that the graphics were most important. Unfortunately that also means that the frames per second sometimes drop to an unacceptable level, but let’s say this isn’t so bad seeing the more arcade type of game. Still, we would have preferred it differently!
Something we can’t complain at all about are the modes. Contrary to previous version you can show off your skills now in different disciplines like the usual Rally but also rally-cross, hillclimb, CORR, crossover and rally raid. Those that feel a bit lost will get the necessary tips and explanations through the commentary voice of Colin which adds to the invitational feeling of the game. These disciplines are playable in separate races, full events and championships, but the most addictive is clearly the Career mode in which you have to finish a pyramid of events. Winning races delivers you credits and new events, new cars and new outfits for them. The career will keep you occupied for quite some time and nicely introduces you to all new aspects of the game.
You don’t have to add DiRT to your collection for the great multiplayer mode. You can play Hillclimb and Rally online, but you’ll only get to see the times of your opponents and won’t meet them on the track which is unfortunate. A lot of options for personalisation aren’t available either, the choices are limited to voting behaviour in the lobby.
Not counting the disappointing multiplayer, you’ll have more than enough fun with the racing. The choice between vehicles, tracks, environments and types of missions is very extensive and there are clear differences, but it won’t take long before you can guide your car through the tracks like a pro. The difficulty degree, that you can adjust more than enough, affects mostly the AI of your opponents and how fast your car will take damage. Very nice for beginners and lovers of arcade racing, but those that want realism will get a tad left out as the car floats too much and has too little contact with the road. What bothered me personally most was the steering behaviour which often reacts either too much or too little.
These little frustrations luckily never spoil the fun you get from the speed of racing, the fascinating tracks and the spectacular duels between you and your opponents. On the gameplay we have nothing but positive things to say, but we did have to adjust our expectations of a Colin McRae title for that first.
We didn’t speak about the sound yet, especially because it doesn’t manage to reach the level of the graphics. The effects are great, but the soundtrack (which this time doesn’t exist out of known songs) is just too unnoticeable. Luckily these tracks never bother.
Also too bad is the co-pilot whose voice could have been just that tidbit better to excite us during long, lonely rides. But who knows, maybe these men need to do their thing as emotionless as possible to allow the pilot to concentrate.
Colin McRae: DiRT is a more than good game. The decision to make it more varied, with more disciplines, and more accessible, including a more arcade control and driving behaviour, will no doubt sound like music to many gamer’s ears. The presentation is still a gigantic success, with beautiful surroundings and impressive cars that you can wreck at will. In the end there are only two reasons why you shouldn’t get this: the lacking multiplayer and the smaller amount of realism for the professional pilot