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    DiRT 2

    Game » consists of 17 releases. Released Sep 08, 2009

    DIRT 2 is part of the long-running rally-racing-series from Codemasters.

    axellion's Colin McRae: DiRT 2 (Xbox 360) review

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    • axellion has written a total of 22 reviews. The last one was for LIMBO

    A tremendously fun ride, edge of your sest excitement.

     There are moments when it just clicks, rushing down a hill at breakneck speeds, barely hanging on, the road only just visible blurring beneath your wheels. It all come together and I fall in to a groove, rally racing at its purest, sheer terror in your eyes as you take hairpin corners at insane speeds, bouncing and tumbling across the over grown back roads of some exotic track; exhilarating and almost tiring, a tremendous amount of attention and pure skill to simply survive, maintain some level of control. When it connects Dirt 2 is a thing of beauty, blending highly technical racing skill with just enough arcady feel to keep it in reach. Dirt walked this fine line and came away as one of the most perfect rally games ever made; with its clean interface, large variety of tracks and events types, beautiful graphics and great physics model. The sequel has all the great driving and even more impressive technical look, but was infused with a serious boost of ego and attitude, that I for one was put off by.

    Taking the simply almost abstract interface of Dirt and tossing it, Dirt 2 throws you into an RV traveling the world from one extreme racing festival to another. The X-games, red bull guzzling vibe is in full show, each aspect is infused with sponsors, and a serious ego boosting, over the top feel. The famous (and I use the term loosely) faces of rally are all here, and will be sure to let you know how good you are doing, with constant voice samples of congratulations or encouraging words after every race, you can become there friends and even team up. During the events themselves, the attempted human contact is displayed even more, a near overwhelming amount of chatter, everything from shouts of cheer as they overtake, to warnings after I attempted to run them off the road. I became very annoyed very quickly with the needless voices in my head. I don’t know who Tanner Foust is and I don’t want to be his friend! Despite the fact that I purposefully rammed his car into a fence thus ending his day, he still congratulated me and we became lifelong friends, if only it were that easy in real life.  
    There is only one way to play dirt and this is in full cockpit view, not only does it add to the feeling of immersion, it presents the racing in a more dramatic and intense way. Car interiors are highly detailed, with all manner of faithfully reproduced gauges and switches, GPS displays and other doodads only add to the realism. Windshields smear with water, crack and shatter under impact. Some of the best most truly effective surround sound, all manner of car clatter and road noise encircle the rider. I can’t stress enough the importance of playing from this view, there is no other way.

    A somewhat disappointing number of vehicles are spread across the various classes, only a mere half dozen or so in each category. Each has a very unique driving style and feel, requiring a bit of a learning curve when trying a new class or race type. Trucks have a nice weighty thickness to them, staying more upright on rough terrain; firmly sticking to the track, the smaller buggies on the other hand control a bit looser with tons of available power. Rally cars have great power and drive ability, able to take corners at high speeds, and amazingly remain on the road, most of the time anyway.
    There seem like a distinct lack of respect for traditional rally events, with the more accessible Rally cross and buggy races having an increased presence. The rally events have great design and although are shorter than in the previous game, still have an incredible sense of danger, every overgrown patch of grass is hiding a rock formation, the canyon cliff biting in to the track. An almost surreal level of excitement and fear grips as I tear up the ground mere inches from my doom. The tight enclosed circuits of LA, Tokyo, and others, have a much more congested feeling, felling like a giant game of pinball, with various trucks or rally cars bashing and pushing their way off the starting line. This can lead to a serious number of early race restarts on my part, being shunted from behind, sending my ride veering into no man’s land. Frustration ensues as race after race was scrapped because of overly congested confusing track design.

    A new feature that attempts to ease the frustration; Flashback allows time to be rewound, reliving the last few moments leading up to a particularly disastrous 200 mph connection with a brick wall. Simply hit the left bummer and watch in awe as the scattered remains of a once fine automobile become reattached, traveling backwards along the evidently wrong racing line, find a point in history and instantly jump back into the race, the near fatal run in now a memory. The feature is technically very impressive; to see the world warp back, and then reenter as if nothing happened, and becomes an extremely useful new addition, one that I hope may make it into other games. After racing for several minutes on record time, only to have a rock jump out sending my car and controller flying, the ability to rewind and give it another go is indispensable. Limited to 60 seasons or so of race time, and by number of uses per race, it never feels like cheating, only preventing a full reset and alleviating much stress and anger.

    Environments, particularly those of the more wide open variety, are rendered in beautiful detail, from vast cliff side trails, to open plains of flowing grass and plant life, hiding every manner of race spoiling bolder and rock. Cars look great especially during replays, they dirty and damage nicely, although the car damage has been greatly lessened in importance this time around, more of a visual style, losing the highly comprehensive data on each system taking harm. As I have said already, the in car view is a must, painstakingly rendered, there is no other way to truly feel as the driver. Vision becomes obstructed by water and dust, doors are torn off and hoods bent upwards further obscuring vision, truly a great enveloping of the senses.

    Dirt 2 is another tremendously solid outing, providing the same great racing action as the first while improving in visuals and features. But I get the sense that it is trying to appeal to an entirely different demographic. Rally events don’t get the respect they deserve; more focus is placed on smaller circuit races, and tightly enclosed urban affairs. They are done well but don’t provide the same level of outright screaming terror of rallying along a Cliffside, wrestling for some level of control. They become more mundane and ordinary; the aggressiveness of competitor adds another level of frustration to the walled tracks, becoming a game of bumper cars with all too frequently disastrous results.
    By replacing the clean almost abstract interface of the original, and giving the game a distinctive extreme sports vibe, I feel something was lost. The quiet solitude of a lone driver forging through mountain passes at senseless speeds, skipping by boulders and death defying drops is lost, replaced by the constant reminder to drink red bull, and the unending repetitive remarks for my so called friends. Friends who despite my great efforts in grappling them from the road into horrifying pleasant crashes, still respect and congratulate me on passing there burning wreckage towards victory.

    The racing is solid and despite the fewer and shorter rally events, and general smaller number of tracks and vehicles, I had a great deal of fun driving like a crazed lunatic, despite my serious disappointment and utter lack of respect for the X-Games, or full throttle energy drinks. Dirt 2 further blurs the line between arcade and realism, a great ride.      

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