Giant Bomb Review

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DiRT 2 Review

5
  • X360
  • PS3

Improvements on the original in every area make Dirt 2 the one to beat when it comes to off-road racing.

The original Dirt did a great job of taking the best of the arcade-style racer and the hardcore sim, and presenting that combination in a slick and easily accessible package. The driving physics were demanding, but not impossible to handle. The graphics and user interface were top-notch. The career mode was varied and well-paced. Dirt 2 picks up where its predecessor left off, upping the ante in every department to create one of the most polished, complete, and fun racing games I've ever played.

  Believe it or not , this is a menu screen.
From the get-go, Dirt 2 impresses. The first thing you see when you start the game is the unique interface, something that is quickly becoming a hallmark of Codemasters' racing games. Rather than a traditional list-based menu, you're dumped into the fully-rendered interior of your tour RV. Moving the stick brings you to a map of the world spread out on a table, where you can choose an event from one of the game's nine locales. Hit the stick again and you can check out multiplayer, lovingly rendered as a poster-covered wall of your RV. Walking outside the RV drops you into the middle of your pit area on race day with a throng of fans milling about. Here you can choose the car you want for the race and customize it with liveries, horns, and dashboard and mirror toys like hula dolls and fuzzy dice, all of which are earned throughout the course of your career.

Events in the original Dirt were unlocked by placing highly in the races leading up to a particular event. Dirt 2 does away with that in favor of a leveling system. Players get experience points for not just placing well in races, but also for the game's "missions," which keep track of your all-time stats like drift distance, time on two wheels, and so on, and give you XP rewards when you break certain milestones. These generous handouts make the career progression much more forgiving, which is fortunate since winning is tough to do. Despite my familiarity with the original Dirt, and the fact that I was playing in the second-lowest difficulty setting, I won only occasionally. Frankly, I found this to be refreshing; the game became more about having fun in races than coming in first, though for those of a more competitive persuasion, there is definitely room for you.

 Gain levels by earning XP to unlock more locales and events.
Dirt 2's career mode is divided into nine distinct locales across the globe. Each area has a variety of events, including Rally (point-to-point timed races), Trailblazer (similar to rally, only with faster cars and straighter tracks), Rally Cross (smaller, motocross-style races, often indoor), Landrush (truck and buggy circuit races), and Raid (like Landrush but point-to-point). Raid events are especially fun, since they are the only events to feature split tracks--a new feature in Dirt 2--where the course forks off, allowing the player to choose one of two routes. This leads to a lot of exciting moments when the tracks merge back together, creating near-misses or spectacular wrecks.

Though Dirt 2 does away with a lot of the more oddball event types of the original (I'm looking at you, Big Rig Hill Climb), it substitutes them with more interesting variants. These special modes range from hitting gates to extend your time in Gatecrasher, and the elimination-style Last Man Standing, where the driver in last place gets eliminated every 20 seconds. Progressing in the career will eventually unlock World Tours for each of the five main events, which yield handsome XP and monetary rewards, and the three X-Games events (Europe, Asia, and America), which include a variety of races and reward you with things like new cars. Multiplayer has been souped-up as well. Whereas the original Dirt's multiplayer was limited to point-to-point races, Dirt 2 includes everything from the full-contact Raid events to the arcade-style Gatecrasher. Multiplayer even has its own XP system (called FP for "Fame Points"), which go toward your purely-for-bragging-rights online rank.

 Water slows you down and obscures your vision.
Dirt 2 is fully featured, but where it really shines is in the details. The physics in Dirt 2 are impeccable. When a truck tumbles after taking a hard landing off a jump, it looks and behaves exactly as it should, which is critical if you're behind the truck anticipating its motion across your driving line. The physics are so realistic that the vibration from my idling engine would shake the skirt on my dash-mounted hula doll. Physics also come into play in the water hazards that now dot many of the courses. Driving through water will slow you down (though this can be advantageous if used strategically), and if you're driving from the cockpit view, my preferred perspective, it will obscure your vision for a few crucial seconds. Dirt 2 also features nighttime races, confined to Rally Cross events, which add a whole new dimension to the game. You will have to avoid smashing your headlights on those tight corners if you want to see, and decide if you want to overtake the leader and risk underestimating a dark turn or let him show you the best line through the corners.

The biggest change from the original Dirt comes in the form of flashbacks, borrowed from Codemaster's street racing title GRID. At any point in a single-player race, provided you have not used up your allotted number of flashbacks, you can press the right shoulder button to trigger an instant replay of the last few seconds, complete with VCR controls. Rewind time to before that last wreck, and you've got a second chance to take that turn a little slower. I had my doubts about the implementation of this feature, thinking it would become a crutch and detract from the tension of going for a wreck-free race, but in practice I used it only to recover from debilitating accidents, occurrences that would have required a restart of the whole race in the original Dirt.

That's the thing about Dirt 2: it's just friendlier. The career mode is not as strict, you get XP rewards left and right, and you can undo boneheaded moves. I even found myself using the Vehicle Setup option to fine-tune my car's performance, something that I shied away from in the original Dirt because of how intimidating it was. I'm no gearhead, but after listening to the succinct audio descriptions for things like gear ratios and brake bias, I began tweaking away on the simplified sliders, instantly noticing huge improvements in my car's handing and speed.

The original Dirt was a fantastic game. It had great driving physics, graphics, and a slick presentation, all of which conspired to create one of my favorite racing games of all time. Dirt 2 eclipses its predecessor on every front, and packages it in a modern, accessible package that race fans of any gaming pedigree are sure to enjoy. Drew Scanlon on Google+
169 Comments
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Edited by ahoodedfigure

The game looked pretty sharp during your guys' quick look.  Good to see it holds up.
 
I also realized that those flashbacks are the only thing that lets you recover, unlike with other games that channel Pole Position, where you just sorta un-explode.

Edited by Bawabus

Drew, your picture is cute and your review is well done. Good job.

Posted by Seraphim84

That's a heroin-ridden 5 star image of ya, there

Posted by Akeldama

lol love the picture.

Posted by CoolDrMoney

Yeah Drew!
 
Now if we could just get Coonce to review a game...

Edited by GregIsRad

That 5 star picture.
 
You're so excited...and you just can't hide it.

Posted by Bunnyman

Drew sure looooves them cars.

Posted by Kontrapunkt

Congratulations Drew your first official review :D 
 
And its a good one too, thanks.

Posted by NoXious

Coonce can review DJ Hero! He's into turn tables after all.

Great review Drew, hope there'll be more to come - good insights.

Posted by CactusWolf

Great review, Drew.

Posted by Gunner612

A drew review! Fantastic one at that. 
 
I demand more of Drew!

Edited by TheKing

Great review, Drew. Hey that rhymes.

Posted by JohnnyMcmillen

I was just about to buy this, and now I am.

Posted by Turbo_Toaster

I can't wait to see lower-scoring games solely for the cartoon pictures of Drew  =B

Posted by ToxicFruit

Good review , Sure going to pick this one up soon  
 
BTW awesome review pic

Posted by scurrybot

well done drew!

Posted by JJOR64

Go Drew!

Posted by nohthink

..... you review pic needs to be crazier....
 
Solid review though.

Posted by Steve_C

Ahhh, it's a little Drew avatar! Brilliant.
 
Great review too.

Posted by TheMustacheHero

lol at pic of Drew.

Posted by Soviet666

Go go Drew!

Posted by DanielJW

Haha. Excellent picture and excellent review. Good job Drew.

Posted by rargy

Cartoon Drew is smiling.  I will consider getting the game.

Posted by FlamingHobo

Picture needs more crazy!
 
Great review, Drew!

Posted by MmmSkyscraper

Fuck yeah, Drew review FTW!

Posted by bpwwhirl

Nicely done, Drewsaurus.

Posted by Postromo

i love how drew's 5 star picture is just a little grin. great rwview too.

Posted by V_Ben

great review drew!

Posted by gingertastic_10

Good to see Drew reviewing now.

Posted by Pie

Awesome review drew

Online
Posted by Kohe321

Great review drew!

Posted by JammyJesus

Wooooooooo Drew!! Wooooooooo Dirt 2!!

Posted by busted1der

DREW!!!

Posted by Doubt

Lol drews pic looks like its saying 
 
"gee this is my first review, so be kind"

Edited by Delta_Ass

Somebody really needs to make Drew a better review pic.

Posted by Googly

A review from Drew?!  Awesome!  Nice review. 

Posted by Jimbo

Gratz! 
 
Lucky it wasn't 4 stars or your review-picture self might have opened his wrists.

Online
Edited by Vanek

I love the fact that while writing the review he realised he didn't have a picture to go with it and clearly decided to draw one himself in paint.  XD 
 
Awesome review though and I couldn't agree more.  I'm currently playing Dirt 2 myself and I'm loving everything about it!  

Posted by Jeffsekai

Great review Drew!!! Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
 
10/10 for Drew

Posted by Forcen

I hope that drawing is a paceholder.

Posted by CL60

a Drew Review!

Posted by eroticfishcake

Ah. Love the picture of Drew. Great review by the way, unexpected but certainly welcome.

Posted by Dudacles

Great review, although you do look kinda drugged in that picture. :p

Posted by MrMiyagi

Awesome pic of Drew LOL.
Solid review. Cant believe the game is THAT good.

Posted by punkxblaze

DREW REVIEW? ON MY GIANTBOMB? WITH DREWFACE? I approve.

Edited by Pkshields

Drew, your pic is creeping me out. Why are you grey?
 
The game sounds great though, never really got into the first though.

Posted by FLStyle

Nice job Drew, you've now got the stamp of approval. All you need to do now is do a video review and you'll have surpassed Dave!

Posted by Death_Burnout

Fun factor is definintely there, but i think the game is totally lacking in content. I love the soundtrack though.
 
I love the innocence of the picture!

Posted by Drebin_893

Great review, Drew.

Posted by get2sammyb

Totally agree. Racing game of the year thus far for me. Fantastic. Super addictive. Can't wait for DLC.

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