During the late 90’s, when most gamers immersed themselves in the depths of the Gran Turismo series, I found a worthy alternative in the Colin McRae games. Forgoing the arduous license tests and devotion to tarmac surfaces, Colin McRae Rally served as an admirable introduction to the sport. Over the years aficionados have watching the series steadily evolve and even offer a splinter diversion (GRiD), which would compete with Digital Polyphony’s well-regarded series.
In 2007, the game lost not only the Colin McRae moniker (in the U.S.), but also the carefully honed mechanics that vigilantly straddled the line between punishing simulation and arcade-like cakewalk. Players could wrap speeding gargantuan tracks around corners with relative ease, making the diversion little more than Daytona in dusty environments. It’s painfully evident that the recently released DiRT 2 remedies it’s predecessor’s physics model; most likely players will careen their Subura Impreza’s into the game’s first hairpin. Now, gamers must diligently throttle, and apply the brake pads judiciously if they desire success.
With over a hundred events, DiRT 2’s single player campaign has enough substance and variety to give prospective racers a sense of contentment. Gamers start their careers with a series of singular races, and soon head into heated, multi-tiered competitions. Modes range from the more traditionalist point-to-point rallies to the novel Gatecrasher variation, which requires players to collide into collapsible barriers that are scattered along the course.
Many contemporary racing titles require a near-perfect run; a single crash typically means that players will be eliminated from the winner’s podium. DiRT 2’s incorporates GRiD’s Flashback feature, allowing players to jump back in time. With this inclusion, players no longer have to quit and restart races due to a single errant miscalculation.
One of Codemasters greatest achievements in DiRT 2 may not be noticed at all. The title does a spectacular job at disguising the requisite load times between races. As statistics are splashed on screen, or maps are panned across the screen, the game streams in data, creating a seamless experience. More noticeable is DiRT 2’s elimination of a clunky menu system; gamers navigate around a stylish and immersive interface that recreates a racing team’s RV-based headquarters. One aspect that will be painfully obvious to players is the title’s integration of the extreme sports culture. Everything in DiRT 2 screams ‘extreme’, from the abundance of in-game adverting down to the garish green cover art.
The third iteration of Codemasters EGO engine rivals the visuals found on top tier racers, competing favorable against visual powerhouses like Motorstorm: Pacific Rift and Gran Turismo: Prologue. From the arid Moroccan deserts, where racers leave convincing trails of dust, to Croatia’s mingling of flora and rubble, each of the game’s nine central environments is both lovingly rendered and distinctive. While the game’s single player campaign presents a habitually solid framerate, slowdown can occur when several racers cluster in DiRT 2’s online modes. The game’s sonic delivery is impeccable, from the bass-crammed growl of Hummer engines, to the in-race chatter that incorporates surnames.
DiRT 2 is the consummate sequel that improves upon its predecessor in a multitude of ways. The title’s comprehensive range of difficulty levels gives everyone from racing newbies to finicky veterans a considerable challenge, and more importantly-allows player’s to enjoy themselves. With an extensive amount of racing diversity, as well as a proficient local and online multiplayer component, DiRT 2 gives off-road racing fans enough content to easily warrant the game’s entrance fee.
DiRT 2 was reviewed on retail Playstation 3 code.