Hooning Is Not A Crime, But Dismissing This Game Is
When it comes to racing games, I'm more of an F1 kind of guy. So obviously, I was a big fan of Codemasters F1 2010. But now we are back in the DiRT series, back to true rally. It's time to get DiRTy...
Visuals: When you look at DiRT2, you will notice that it is a great looking game for 2009, even to this day. When your first race at Finland in DiRT3 loads up, you'll notice a vast improvement. Correction, a huge improvement. Finland doesn't really show the best visuals DiRT3 has to offer, but delve deeper into the 'DiRT Tour' and you will find plenty to satisfy your needs. Don't think that rain, snow and sun is all you'll see. The weather varies much more than that. It can be heavy snow, light snow, or maybe just dusty snow blowing in the wind. You can also have overcast, sunset and even night-time. There is so much variety when it comes to weather in DiRT3.
You should also notice that the cars look spot on and you will recognise a lot of them from real life, or DiRT2. But there is also plenty of new cars as well, my favourite being the tiny classic: Mini Cooper. But it's not all rally cars, Ken Block returns with his Monster Energy Ford Fiesta. You will also find Trailblazer cars which go extremely fast and have huge spoilers. Once again, it helps to offer so much more variety. A fantastic looking game.
Audio: There's something strange about the soundtrack which I noticed back in DiRT2 and it's here again in DiRT3. For some reason, DiRT2 took a hell of a lot of songs from FIFA 09. DiRT3 takes plenty of songs from FIFA 11. I'm not sure why, but it's not a bad thing, with songs like 'Rules Don't Stop Me' by We Are Scientists, which just feels so fitting for DiRT3. Anyway, the songs are only played in the menus and the re-plays. When you get into a race, it's time to focus on the sound of the engine, which, once again, sounds extremely accurate.
You may remember in DiRT2, when you took over an AI opponent, they would start shouting at you through a headset. Well, this got pretty annoying for me and thankfully they have removed it in DiRT3. But don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of dialogue from rally fanatics such as Christian Forgothissurname. This time around, the dialogue always feels fresh because impressively, they almost never repeat themselves, apart from the occasional "post in on YouTube!" Kudos to Codemasters. Most of the time they will be congratulating you on qualifying for a final or completing a season, but then someone else will stick their nose in and say something like "don't get carried away." But it always feels nice and fresh.
Another part of the audio you will hear a lot of is the crowd. They are a bit like cardboard cut-outs but they look a bit more 3D, more lifelike, a bit more human than the ones in FIFA who constantly jump up and down. Anyway, sometimes if you get too close to them they will scream. "Aaah!" "Oooh!" I wonder if you keep drifting from far left to far right you might get them to scream in perfect harmony. On the other hand, the fearless cut-outs will sometimes cheer you on. I remember hearing a woman shout "come on!" It's a nice little addition and there is audio aplenty in DiRT3.
Gameplay: At first, I thought the cars felt very similar to DiRT2, but then, when you experience some more of the new additions, you will think otherwise. Many times, I accidently over-steered and was punished (this rarely happened in DiRT2.) But you never get frustrated thanks to our old friend, the Flashback system. This time around, they give you 5 flashbacks no matter what difficulty your on. The weather effects can also affect your handling with rain making the track more slippery. You will also notice that smaller cars like the Mini Cooper can't really handle big bumps and is much more likely to tip over than, say, a dune buggy. Bless it.
As you should have heard, 'Gymkhana' is a new feature which is basically a freestyle playground taking a break from the hardcore rally. It offers plenty of new driving techniques you otherwise wouldn't use such as the spin, the donut and smashing through blocks. Once mastered, they are all very satisfying to pull off and even more so if you can get a good combo going.
Now, for the first time in the DiRT series, DiRT3 features split-screen. This is something I wanted in DiRT2. Anyway, now it's here and here is a little formula I have made: Split-screen + Gymkhana = Mayhem. And you know it. It makes for real competitive racing. On-line multi-player is just as good as you'd expect. You will make tons of rivals. Overall, the gameplay feels like DiRT2 but with added realism. Really though, the wonderful thing about DiRT3, is how you can totally adapt the difficulty to your style. There are so many options and assists that you can turn on/off, the game will never be too easy or too hard. Not enough games give you so much choice and freedom for a custom difficulty. DiRT3 does.
Delivery: In the 'DiRT Tour', there are four main pyramids/seasons, but the on you'll probably spend the most time in is the 'bonus pyramid', the Battersea Compound. There is so much to do in the Compound and so many missions to complete, you can never get bored. As you complete more seasons, you will unlock more areas of the Compound such as the Depot. And you know what that means don't you? More awesome missions! The missions can range from spinning around a certain lamppost, to smashing 500 smash-able objects. There is so much to do.
Now, near the beginning of season three, you will unlock even more pyramids. Six to be precise and each one is tied to a certain race type whether it be rally, rally raid, gymkhana, trailblazer (my favourite!) and so on. They also contain one 'bonus challenge' which is normally something like knocking down robot cut-outs which are invading the city. Anyway, this basically makes the game longer to complete which is not a bad thing. I would tell you how long it takes to complete, but I have not done so yet. But to give you an idea, I'm currently 45% complete and have played for nearly five hours now, so I presume it is around 10 hours. Nice!
OK, so one of the most interesting features is the all new YouTube feature. DiRT3 is the first game to ever let you record your own re-plays and upload them directly to YouTube with no other equipment needed. (So long as you have an account. Check mine: DiRT3Machinima.) It's a really nice idea if you've pulled off a sick trick and want to show the world. But unfortunately, you can only record 30 seconds and after that, it doesn't get any better. It can take up to five minutes if not longer to upload a 30 second clip to YouTube. Sure, this is a downer, but you can't really complain, I mean, at least Codemasters actually put it in, no other developers have even tried it. Codemasters have started it, I can see other developers improving on it. Well done once again Codies.
As we all know, the DiRT series has always been popular for it's artistic menus and/or loading times and DiRT3 is no different. When pressing a button on a menu, the last car you drove will swipe across the screen deleting everything and will bring up a new menu. It's very dynamic and very creative. As for the loading screens, you can zoom in and out on the car your about to drive. Go on, have a good long stare at your beast.
Achievements: The achievements in DiRT1 and 2 were(mostly) incredibly easy. But now, in DiRT3, they offer a bit more challenge. There are some simply for progressing through the career, some for progressing through the Compound missions. There are other more specific ones like complete a race in cockpit view without the HUD, or, win a race with the Mini Cooper without taking any damage. Then, of course, there are some multi-player ones to boot, mainly leveling up. Much more variety than DiRT2's list. I've said that a lot in this review. But it's true, DiRT3 has much more variety than DiRT2. Another thing I always like is Avatar Awards. And guess what, DiRT3 has avatar awards! Seeing my little MajorBrussel kitted out in his rally racing suit and his cute little helmet is a really nice touch.
Verdict: I gave Shift 2 Unleashed a 5 out of 5, but actually, I think DiRT3 is better. I'd give it a 6 if I could. It doesn't have as much personalization as Shift 2 did (stickers, vinyls, although you can see your avatar on the XBOX 360 version.) But to be honest, once you've started playing DiRT3, you won't care about customization. DiRT3 has variety. It has X Games, it has Gymkhana and most importantly, 60% rally, just what the fans wanted. Oh, and it also has the looks. DiRT3 comes third on my top 10 games of all time list, just behind Heavy Rain and Uncharted 2.
Rally fan or not, DiRT3 is essential in everyones collection.
- 60% True rally.
- Gymkhana is a blast!
- Beautiful graphics.
- Super fast cars, especially Trailblazer.
- YouTube feature.
- YouTube feature is limited.
- The box art.