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DiRT

 

DiRT

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PS3
Category: Racing
 
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8.5
8.5
 
Author:

Developer - Codemasters
Publisher - Codemasters

Features

Number of Players: 1
Playstation Network Compatible
Online: Ethernet Broadband Required
Required Hard Disk Space: 1.7 MB
HDTV: 720p

DiRT arrives on the PS3 approximately 2 and half months after its release on the Xbox 360. Developed by Codemasters, DiRT is the sixth racing game in the Colin McRae Rally series and is the last one to be published before his tragic death in a helicopter crash. Since the launch of the PS3 there has not been a great deal of racing games to play, let alone any rally games. The only comparable racer already on the system would likely be the Sony’s own Motorstorm. Nevertheless, the comparison is a bit of a stretch considering Motorstorm is much more of an arcadish off-road style game. With that being said, DiRT stands as virtually the only true rally game available on the PS3. For fans of the franchise and rally car games, DiRT delivers on many levels. With a nice blend of arcade and simulation (sim) experience, DiRT stands as the best rally racing game we have seen in quite some time. Is it perfect? Absolutely not; however there are many great aspects of the game which makes DiRT a must buy for fans of the genre and PS3 owners alike.

Graphics

When you first give DiRT a spin, you quickly take notice of how good the visuals are. The graphics are top-notch and the menus from the get go are no exception. They are easy to use and not at all complicated which is perfect for a simple guy like me. Overall, the game scores top marks in the visuals department and Codemasters essentially pulls it off by themselves as they use their own graphics engine known as Neon. In the end, the results are impressive and the following stood out for me as I progressed through the game:

- The vehicles look great and identical to their modified real-life counterparts;
- The tracks and environments are very slick;
- The small details such as dust kicking up from your tires and mud effects are second to none; and
- The detail that went into the vehicle cockpits is amazing.

Needless to say, the amount of detail that went into DiRT is incredible. The vehicle models look very good and are arguably the best we have seen in a rally game to date. All the details on rally cars such as dirt and mud marks, decals and the overall design of the cars is very slick and only adds to the realistic look. While I am on the topic of the vehicles, it should be mentioned as you start any given race you have several views to choose from when racing your car. The most impressive views are from the helmet cam and dashboard cam. In these views you get a good look at the cockpit as each one is made up of over 7000 polygons. These views truly make you feel as if you are in driving your own rally car as the inside view is very convincing as the details inside the cockpit are simply stunning.

Another great aspect of the vehicles is how realistic the cars take damage. They are easily damaged in DiRT giving you the feeling this game is more sim than arcade. At one point I merely rubbed up against another vehicle, yet after the replay I noticed I had some significant scratches along side my car. Even though I felt the vehicles damaged a little too easily, the damage modelling was very real looking and again added to the already stellar gameplay.

In addition to the well rendered vehicles, DiRT features equally impressive environments featuring well designed tracks and beautiful landscapes. The frame rate was also quite smooth (with some minor exceptions) and the draw distance was surprisingly good. The available tracks feature a nice variety of off-road racing experiences, such as racing on gravel, mud, and dirt, and it is really what you would expect from a rally racing game. At the end of the day, you truly get the feeling you are in an off-road rally race.

Sound

As far as the audio is concerned DiRT’s sound is an excellent complement to the fantastic graphics. It features sound that is controlled and managed by Codemaster’s revolutionary CmStream code libraries for acoustical correct audio and the game sounds great in 5.1 surround sound. All the vehicles have their own unique sounds. As you race different cars you will notice some vehicles sound distinctively different than others and I would imagine they sound identical to their 'real-life' counterparts. I haven't been to many rally races, so I cannot confirm if they sound the same or not, nevertheless they do sound pretty good.

DiRT's soundtrack is also very well done however you won’t hear any noticeable recording artists. In fact, during the race the music is not very noticeable at all at the focus is on the cars sound and your co-driver’s tips. The music is really only noticeable during the game's menus and in the replays. The soundtrack is about what you would expect from the genre however some noticeable recording artists and some catchy tunes are always appreciated. Unfortunately, you are not able to listen to music from your harddrive with the PS3 version as you would with the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Gameplay

As far as the gameplay is concerned, there is little bit for everyone. DiRT offers six types of racing experiences including point-to-point rally racing, Hill Climb, Rally Raid, Rally Cross, Crossover and the CORR (Championship Off-Road Racing) Series from the U.S. These events can be played during single races or events or in a series of championships. Nevertheless, you will likely spend the bulk of your time in the career mode. In this mode, you grind your way through a number of events in various racing modes where winning earns you points. These points in turn unlock new races in the career mode and they also awards you money. The cash you collect allows you to buy new vehicles and add-ons for the new vehicles (e.g. liveries). The points system is very similar to other racing games we have played in recent years. Overall the career mode will take you sometime to get through. In fact, it almost reminds me of Forza 2 for the Xbox 360 in that it will take you many hours to complete. It is however a very rewarding mode and offers up quite the challenge for racer fans.

The tracks that are featured in DiRT are based on real world locations. These tracks include such courses as Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Bark River Off-Road Raceway (Michigan - CORR Series) or Croft Circuit (North Yorkshire, England - Rally Cross). The decision to add real world tracks in the game was a fantastic decision and adds to the realism of the game. The tracks are detailed to perfection and are very challenging to master.

As far as the vehicles, DiRT features an abundance of cars and you will find more than just traditional rally cars. You get a chance to ride in CORR Pro 4 trucks and Super Buggies, 4x4's from BMW, VW and Nissan, Hill Climb trucks and 800+ BHP unlimited hill climb cars, rally cross cars from Lotus and Audi, and even huge racing rigs. Of course there are also traditional rally racing cars too. From classic rally cars, rear wheel drive, two wheel drives and the newest four wheel drives, including Colin McRae's own prototype the R4, all are present and accounted for. The selection of vehicles is incredible and there will surely be something there for everyone, even those hardcore rally fans.

As far as the controls are concerned you will be relieved (as I was) they are relatively simple and straight forward. It does not take much to learn the controls and become competitive right off the hop. The novice gamer can pick this one up fairly quickly. Although the game remains primarily sim-based, there is more of an arcadish feel this time around. Hardcore fans may be put off at first; however there are higher skills levels available. It is recommended experienced fans of the franchise amp up the difficulty this time around. My only concern with the controls rests is that I never really felt as if I had complete control of the vehicles. The vehicles seemed somewhat light in the weight department and had a bit of that 'floaty' feeling. At the end of the day, I felt a little bit more work could have been done to fine tune the weight of the vehicles.

As far as the multiplayer, DiRT unfortunately disappoints in terms of its lack of content and online play. The ability to race online with your buddies or strangers remains a top priority for gamers in this day in age and this is where DiRT falls flat. For instance, not all the racing modes are available online and you race against the clock, not against your friends. During your online multiplayer experience you will be racing with up to 100 other people who are racing the exact same track as you, only each of you will race alone. Racing against a clock just does not do it for me. I am not sure why the developers could not even include a 6 player race. In any event, I sadly missed not having the ability to race against other opponents online.


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