Colin McRae: Dirt 2
There is no other form of motor racing that offers the wide-ranging possibilities and sheer terror filled adrenaline pumping rides as off road racing. There is also no other games developer that can quite nail the experience as good as Codemasters. As GRID was a departure from what fans expecting from the Race Driver series, so Dirt 2 makes some serious changes, appealing to a wider ranging audience by giving Dirt 2 and X-Games feel to it, and straying away from the pure rally focus, incorporating a range of disciplines that makes the game much more accessible and more enjoyable.Â
The most important inclusion however is not the depth of racing styles, or global locations, but rather the flashback feature that Codemasters introduced in GRID. Whilst this was a nice gimmick in the world of circuit racing, itâ€™s an essential tool for making the rally/off road racing game a million times less frustrating.
So Dirt 2 is a slightly different game, but that boys and girls is called progress. Itâ€™s a good direction to go in, and the way theyâ€™ve packaged it is epic. Everything about the game screams at you and makes you think you are part of an event â€“ from the X-Games style graphics and rock music (and yes, getting to take part in the X-Games!) to the individual drivers reactions to your driving style â€“ well, maybe my driving style â€“ drivers were freaking out at me and laying down the smack just because I accidentally slammed into them!
Graphically the original Dirt was impressive, but Dirt 2 pushes the bar so much higher, delivering a game whose graphics are lush with detail. Despite the danger that I may come off sounding like a raving fan boy, I have to say that Dirt 2 is a real pleasure to play. You start off with a decent car, and pretty soon have a number of locations, racing styles and cars unlocked. Every race is not only a challenge but also a whole lot of fun.
I guess the real pleasure for me â€“ and one that might upset purists â€“ is the number of events where you get to race as a pack â€“ straight up rally, where you race against the clock is a lonely sport, and not a lot of fun online (something Codemasters must have been thinking about with the online success of GRID). But even with the pure rally parts of the game, theyâ€™ve added those extra little details â€“ like picking your co-driver â€“ so you get someone whose voice doesnâ€™t annoy you, and the indelible fact that if youâ€™re good enough you can catch and pass the guy in front of you. Of course, the opposite is true as well.
If you love your racing games to be a fast, furious, audio and visual treat that will continually push you, then Dirt 2 is for you.
Dirt 2 is more than just clocking through the events and unlocking everything you can on your road to becoming the world champion, it also allows you to become the real number one ranked player in the world, if youâ€™re good enough. X-Box Live opens the game up to a whole new level with a simple but very well working format of going from race to race, being able to veto any track or style that may be presented â€“ democratically though. Codemasters have learned a thing or two from GRID as well, as there is no going the wrong way round the track and smashing head on into the leader â€“ you try that and youâ€™ll find your car is actually a ghost. Whatâ€™s more, at the end of the race youâ€™ll find youâ€™ve been disqualified. That will put and end to annoying pests who try and ruin the fun for everyone.
Be warned though, before you go online with Dirt 2, make sure you know how to drive, because if my experience is anything to go by, the people who race online are a dedicated bunch who have either got natural skills, or have put in the hard yards and become masters of the game very quickly. Last place was my highest ranking.
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Available on: XBox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, PC