Dirt 2 Review

s36978_ps3_40Let me get this out of the way real quick. I was a BIG big fan of Both the original DiRT game, and the man, who’s name proceeded the title in all other countries aside from America. Colin McRae. I think it mixed just the right amount of simulation difficulty/realism and arcade style together to make one of the most entertaining, and equally frustrating at times, game of 2007.

That being said, I got instant gamer wood when I saw the 1st trailer for DiRT 2. But was a little saddened that Codemasters had chosen to continue the franchise after the death of Mr. McRae.

And than I got even sadder… (More sad?) When I started to see all the “X GAME!” Logos and advertisments they where putting into the game. I love the fact that Rally is in X Games now. I LOVE IT. I’m thinking. “Finally, Some freakin’ recognition for Rally Racing in the states!” But I’m also worried about the “XtrEME!!” element that X Games puts on everything…and all the market branding and the “in your face” attitude. I don’t like it. So I was worried.


I’m glad to report that my worries where unfounded. Codemasters has been able to meld the X Game feel into the product very well, and it doesn’t feel like a big grab for the younger generations cash. Well, it IS a grab at them, but it’s done well.

The Gameplay is essentially the same as the 1st DiRT. The crazy cool menu systems of the original DiRT have gotten an “upgrade” of sorts. And everything is laid out as if you’re living in a tour van going from state to state (and country to country, however the hell that works. *shrug*. Semantics.) The Story… Well, is trivial, and doesn’t really exist. You’re the “new guy” making his name in Rally and that’s about it. You do races, win races, to unlock more races to win cash to buy cars to upgrade them to win win win!. Get it?. good. Moving on.

GAMEPLAY————————————

Well, like I said, the car physics feels about the same as they did in DiRT. I say about the same, because they do feel a little different in DiRT2, it’s a good “different” (lots of quotes people, get use to “it”.) The progression of the game feels more rewarding this time around, though. In the beginning you have a few races to play. Each race you win gets you experience points which are added to your total to increase you’re overall level. Each level you reach you unlock more cash, new liveries, special cars, and little doohickeys and dashboard toys if your playing from a cockpit view. To gain experience points, you can simply win races, OR.. there are a subset of goals that you can perform during races that will give bonus XP points. such as longest jumps, clean overtakes, crashing a lot without giving up, etc. etc. The addition of the side objectives is nice, and isn’t required at all to progress in the game. But it’s a good addition for people who may like a little more to do during races, or just the type who like the feeling of abstract rewards. (yay!, you made a number 2 in the toilet. Silver star!!.)

The games progression never really “peaks” in terms of difficulty though. In DiRT, the later races where grueling, a couple sprint races where very difficult. Lasting 10 or so minutes in very fast cars on extremely narrow, clifted roads. it was a daunting task. This game never gets there in terms of that type of difficulty. Of course, you could always turn the games difficulty up to extreme or Hardcore, which, is exactly that…HARDCORE. But Setting for Setting. the original DiRT is still quite a bit harder. This isn’t really a complaint, as many people don’t want an overly hard game. but a note to those who many have mastered the original game.

A New addition to the franchise, and a much welcome one at that, is the flashback ability taken from another of Codemasters games, GRiD (Great too BTW.) When you’re doing great, and flub a little bit, causing you to fly off the track and DIE a fiery death. A flashback is basically your Mulligan. you can rewind to just before you crashed and call it all good. I loved this feature in Grid and I’m glad to see it applied to this game as well.

On the downside, there just doesn’t feel like enough here. you end up playing the same courses and tracks over and over again, there really isn’t enough and it can get a little repetitive after awhile. Thankfully, unlocking newer cars and upgrades does keep those courses from getting too bland. But more tracks would have been great. I’m going to guess that there may be some DLC in the future right?. Hmm.. hate how I have to pay.. AGAIN to play the same amount of content that I use to get back in the day. Anyways. another little issue I have is.. I feel some of the vehicles are over used. In other parts of the world, there are many different kinds of rally cars. Renault is big name, Peugeot is another..Hell, the Xsara WRC was one of the best Rally cars around for a number of years, but… it’s missing.

. But, you’re selection here consists mostly of Mitsubishi and Subaru. Which I like, but instead of have 3 Subbies and 2 different lancers.. how about something different. hmm?s36978_ps3_36

The whole style of the game is very much about X Games, heck, there are 3 XGame Tournaments in the game. I was a little unsettled about the shift. I understand why this shift was made though. Rally is big in X Games now and they want a piece of that audience. But I was very worried the game would suffer from this choice. It hasn’t, and it actually helps a bit. In the 1st DiRT, you very much felt “alone” in the game. That sounds silly, but that’s the feeling I got. In this one, you’ve never racing by yourself, there is always a group of AI racers around you, jockeying for position. While there doing this, they are talking over the radio to each other, the back and forth bantle is trivial and just audible fluff, but it’s done well and doesn’t get old or obnoxious. If you do well, you’ll unlock personal races against other big names in Rally. Such as Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, and Many others. If you are able to beat them, instead of some “Yeah whatever G.. you cheated!” they’ll be you’re “buddy” and then go on to think you’re “A Legend”. The game very much sets up a positive feeling, and one of respect. Which I loved The game, in all facets, exudes respect. Even to the Late great Colin McRae who, I believe, gets many props and a lot of love in this game. Codemasters did a great job showing there respects to “The Man” without making it feel like a grab at fans money… ya know,.. I’m actually glad they didn’t call this “Colin McRae”. As it’s not his game, Codemaster has moved it to a new audience, but they didn’t forget who it was all about. Late in the game, he’s given proper respects. I won’t give it away.

One final issue that some may not like about this game is it’s lack of TRUE rally. I say true rally because the true point to point Rally races are a little sparse. Sure, there is Rallycross races and such. but not a whole lot of Navigator rally. It didn’t bother me, but I can see some people wanting more of those types of races.

————————————-Graphics

What more could I say other than amazing?. the original Dirt was an amazing looking game, and this one adds a couple more notches to that level. The lighting is simply stellar and really brings everything alive. car models are very realistic and accumulate dirt, scratches and grime as you fly through the courses. Damage to the cars looks realistic, but the actual effective damage that happens is toned down a bit from the previous installment. the cars feel more durable, which isn’t quite what I would like. But it’s forgivable. Some cars feel as if there made of spit and paper while others feel sturdy and bullet proof, adding a required amount of technique to the cars you pick.

Each course feels very distinctive and can easily be told apart from other tracks. A track in Utah feels and looks exactly what you’d expect and when compared to a route in China, you’ll easily tell which is which just by subtle color variations and texture work. Codemasters took the bottled Awesome they used for Dirt and added a nice heap of “kick ass” to make it just a little better.

The framerate, even with all the detail and amount of on screen action only dips and stutters, that I could tell, on one single course. The LA track, when you’re outside of the stadium, at least on the PS3 there is a slight dip in framerate, it never effects the gameplay, but it is noticeable once in a while. The water effects look a little too shiny and end up looking more like Mercury or the T-1000 from Terminator 2.

A note to PS3 users with an HDTV that only supports 1080i resolution. you’ll be sad to know that this game is a 720p only. So, you’ll be stuck with 480p resolution. And as usual, the 360 doesn’t have this problem, never had this problem, and never will. Sony… you screwed up guys. *shakes head*

Sound————————————————–

s36978_ps3_37 Not really a whole lot to say here. The voice acting, for the most part is OK, I’m not going to expect every Rally racer to be an amazing voice actor. Dave Mirra is pretty stiff in the vocal department. But thats ok, it’s kindof more realistic that way. I don’t want him going “Dude, that was radical off the hook, yo!” Him just going “Hey T-Bag, Great driving out there.” sounds a bit classier. Yes, My characters name was T-bag. lol.

Engines sound distinctive and realistic, sliding along the dirt sounds about what I would imagine, wouldn’t hurt to be a little louder I guess. Slamming down from a big jump sounds excellent and graphically it shakes and feels jarring, which is good. The music is pretty damned good in this game, Most tracks are nice picks and the way it fades in and out is great.

When you’re in youre trailer, the music is muted and muffled. As you step outside, it clears up and gets a little louder, than, as the game is loading and showing you your track, unlocks, car, etc. it’s blaring. But, once the race starts it fades out completely. unless you are starting the race off in a stadium, then you hear the music echoing as if it’s being played over a loud speaker. as you leave the stadium, and whiz around the course, it fades and disappears until you fly back into the stadium from the other entrance. It all plays out very well and is a much better, and appreciated method of in game music while driving. I usually don’t like hearing the same songs over and over as I’m driving, I’m glad it’s used in this manner.

On a good 5.1 system this game is booming, the bass is pretty heavy, but not all the time, which is nice. But when it does hit.. it hits!

The game does not support 7.1 on the Ps3, but is 5.1 for both the 360 and Ps3. on Wii, you’re only going to get Pro-Logic II

Final Thoughts———————————————

Again, I can say with relief that the whole X Games theme that is very heavy in this game is not bad at all, and is done well and with thought applied. it’s not just some thin veneer to attached the youngin’s. But, with that said. I am still a little saddened by the loss of Colin McRae’s influences on the game. I’ve played nearly every Colin McRae Rally game that’s been released and have always been a fan. When DiRT was released, I could tell it was moving in a different direction, but could still tell he had some say in what was going on. With this release, if it wasn’t for, basically, “In Memory of” parts of the game, you would never tell that this was suppose to be a Colin Game. But, this isn’t a sad feeling of emptiness, because everything that Codemasters has done to the game in the wake of losing “The Man” is in a positive direction. even with the X Games theme, the game is about the sport of Rally. There isn’t some stupid, bloated story, there isn’t a bunch of smack talking and crazy weapons or abilities or unrealistic courses or famboyant characters. it’s very much still grounded in the respect of the sport, and respect for the player which is a great way to go, and I think McRae, if he was still around, would be proud to have his name on this game.

“When in Doubt….. FLAT OUT!” –Colin McRae

Final Score—9.2

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