Thursday, September 10, 2009

It is time to strap in for some Dirt 2

The second edition of Codemaster’s series Dirt has finally came out… and guess who is PSYCHED! My whole day was slower than belief as I waited for the afternoon to come. Then of course, my roommate locked himself out of his room so we couldn’t leave for almost an hour. Finally, at around 7, I had the game in my 360 and I was playing.

Being the absolute loser when it comes to motorsport and car culture, when I heard Dirt 2 was coming out, I was first in line. I must tell you now, I am not disappointed. After about three hours straight of racing, I wasn’t fatigued or ready to pop in call of duty (even though my roommates were).

The game starts out with you being given the late Colin McRae’s No Fear Subaru WRX, and being pushed into a race off the bat. I personally think this is great, mostly because I don’t want to sit there for 3 hours being told the emergency brake isn’t the only way to induce a slide. During this race, you are introduced to a few of the racers by hearing them heckle each other, which to be honest gets a little tired after a while. Throughout the course of the main game, there are 5 regular race modes, and 3 other special modes. Believe it, or not despite the seemingly small number, the 7 different racing modes, combined with the game featuring cars and trucks, the event types have not seemed to get repetitive yet.

Another feature is a (slight) interaction with the other professional drivers. You have a relationship stat with each of 7 racers, and throughout the course of the game are given challenges, and offered to race along side them in team events. The interaction with these professional drivers brings an added depth that you don’t see in many other racing games like Forza Motorsport.

The driving physics are wonderful. Although personally I feel that the trucks feel a bit arcadish, the cars feel very realistic. The emergency brake feels a little too strong, but honestly, I have never driven a rally car, so I cannot really tell you if it is off or not. Not only is there a strong sense of realism with the cars, track surfaces are also very noticeable. This fact is definitely most prevalent in the Rally Cross tracks where there are two different surfaces. I am consistently reminded of this when I slide into the woods in Croatia after driving off the paved road onto the dirt trail.

Damage is another high point for Dirt 2. The look of crashing is AMAZING, after plowing headlong into a tree whilst topping out my car I had to repetitively slow motion replay and would watch as the front end of the car crushed frame by frame around the tree. The biggest problem is the cars are (in the words of Thomas) Juggernauts. Although you can total the cars, damage does not show very well. After a while, you can tell when there is a wheel bias, or an engine problem, but otherwise you don’t feel much else.

The game looks great. It is the first time in a long time I have played a game with a virtual cockpit. The interior of the cars have fully working gauges (although not always visible in certain lighting, as can be understood), and customizable “toys” which move around as you drive. I feel this is just a way Codemasters is trying to show off their physics. (Hey, if you got it flaunt it). When outside of the cockpit, the vehicle and the scenery is very vivid, especially since it must be refreshing at insane rates.

The last aspect is the presentation. Unlike most games, I played Dirt 2 for over 3 hours straight without hearing the same song twice. The music covers a large range of genres all the while keeping the same feel. I really like the main menu, it is an interesting set up, you have to look around your RV to go to different areas in the game. Once outside of the RV you also get to see the scenery of a rally event at the location of your current race.

In conclusion, Dirt 2 is exactly what I expected it to be. Arcadish at times, but for the rest of the time, a great realistic driving game. Although, I see Dirt 2 as the prelude of what is to come, this is a great game!

I give it a 4.5/5 mostly because I know this will not be the best of the season and for that reason, I feel wrong giving it a 5.

*EDIT* The first picture is not in game, I thought it would be a good idea to put an in-game image right next to one that is not, sorry for any confusion.

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