|DiRT Game: Original Mini - Check!
The latest in the generally excellent, DiRT series has arrived, DiRT Showdown. It is a break from the norm as set by Codemasters, in that it is not a proper racer. Rather, it takes on the mantle of Racedriver Grid, the aim is destruction and distraction rather than genuine motorsport replication. Slightly strange it seems, as Codemasters have chosen this game to launch their new Codemasters Racing label. A fun way to waste time, it is more a game to pick up and play than your usual Codies efforts. But that in itself is a good thing. F1 2011 and DiRT3 take more setting up, and a better frame of mind needed to play. If your heart is not in it with the two more motorsport orientated titles, you will just frustrate yourself and not enjoy the experience.
With Showdown, you can just turn on, load up and genuinely enjoy the experience. Provided you go into it without expecting the usual DiRT fare.
What have you got then ?
|Box art, nice. ©Codemasters Racing|
You have a range of options to chose from. Circuit based demolition derby, arena based demolition and Hoonigan events. Mostly its a free form rumble where the strongest wins and skill is not necessarily the most important. In Hoonigan events though, you return to the Gymkahna runs in DiRT3. In such a do what you want game, the structured way in which these events are run is not always welcome.
There is also a chance to free roam in Joyride events. Wide open complexes and a choice of Ford Fiesta or Subaru Impreza allow you the chance to trick and slide to your hearts content. Even in these freeplay arenas though, there are missions and scripted tricks to complete. The companies link with Ken Block is apparent here, as is the established relationship with Batersea Power Station. For those who have played DiRT3, the inclusion of the Batersea Compound ensures that you know exactly were you are going, while new tricks will still entertain.
On the whole, the range of options available are more than sufficient to distract and entertain.
The menu system is common to DiRT3, making it user friendly and fairly attractive. The voice over guide is also common to DiRT3 though, as with the fuller title, can become annoying after a while.
The control system is intuitive. A standard Automatic gearbox, one button boost and one button to handbrake mean that even younger children will be able to play and enjoy the action. Graphics are also pleasant and engaging, building on the excellent visual landscape from the previous game. The soundscape can become a bit repetitive, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The idea is destruction, not true to the fact simulation and I would rather have more levels, cars and liveries to choose from than spot on and perfect engine notes.
The range of cars on offer is great too. The only properly notable names are the Fiesta and Impreza listed above, along with the Mini and Evo, but there are a wide range of demolition ready machines await your pleasure. As with DiRT3, the selection of a number of pre-made liveries makes it much quicker to get into the action. Select event, select car, select paintjob, select your first target. You have got to love the fact that you can go at it in anything from a Ford Poplar, under a different name, to a mini-van and everything in between. The Anarchy Police Department paint is a firm favorite already.
There is a car in that smoke
Crashing; As endemic as it is to the driving genre is usually more a point of frustration than satisfaction, adding precious seconds to that all important lap clock. DiRT: Showdown does things a little differently.
In my short time with the game I found that I rather enjoyed it's oddly retro demolition or survival races, finding intense joy in hitting the turbo and slamming headlong into a pile of other vehicles while whooping at the mayhem I had caused.
It is in this respect that DiRT: Showdown has it's biggest draw, rewarding you with extra boost and a tally of points from T-bones, head on collisions and removing other drivers from the field thus enabling you to hit the next car that much harder.
The crashes themselves are beautifully rendered with cars crumpling , bending and breaking with a greater sense of realism and weight then is typically seen in other destruction style games; While not over the top it adds a noticeable visual oomph to accompany each hit and slam with car parts and shattered wrecks often littering the various bowls and tracks.
|Hoon like Ken Block, Joyride events.
That all being said DiRT: Showdown has some annoying if not greatly serious flaws.
While the impacts feel weighty and impressive the vehicles themselves lack any sense of weight or inertia to drive, leaving the driving experience feeling flighty and a little too arcadey; While this may appeal to some, especially fans of older games like Destruction Derby, I found it detracted from otherwise enjoyable events.
Likewise the upgrade aspects felt a little shallow, with no obvious difference with or without a particular point in any given stat.
The career listed gymkhana events were oddly scripted, demanding me to donut around a particular pole before drifting through a corner disallowing any progress through the course until each individual “trick” had been completed, thus immediately stifling any enjoyment from just doing the various tricks and stunts on offer.
A large and varied selection of vehicles helps to give greater personality and individuality while livery selection rather then full colour customization keeps the selection process quick, meaning that the meat of the game comes thick and fast.
Events are varied and enjoyable, though individually they can become quite repetitive also.
Overall I had fun with DiRT: Showdown , but I was left in serious doubt about it's longevity.
It fills a niche currently under represented and is definitely a fun diversion, though I would say for anyone looking for anything deeper or a serious shave-a-millisecond racer to cast their eyes elsewhere.
Zain's Rating: 7.2/10
As a motorsport fan, it is not necessarily the game that I would go out and buy, but that would be a mistake. Sometimes you just want to jump in and play and the easy controls and quickfire action the game offers is ideal. In fact it may well end up replacing Racedriver Grid as my fall back title. The game I turn to when Forza, DiRT3 or F1 2011 is just too much hassle.
That is high praise indeed, as Grid has been part of my desktop collection for the better part of three years and I was beginning to worry about wearing out the disc. DiRT: Showdown is just that sort of title. It is easy to play, easy to enjoy and when the time comes, easy to put away.
I don't think Ill be spending my nights up late, playing away to shave a thousandth of a second from my lap time, because that doesn't matter. I don't think that I will forget the time and still be playing when I should really be elsewhere, like at this keyboard. I do think that it will serve me well when I have five minutes to spare and just want to do something.
In terms of the Graphics, the damage modeling and the playability it is a fantastic game. In terms of the Physics and longevity, maybe not at the top of the pile. In terms of fun and frolics it is a winner and I would happily spend out the money on a game which fills the gaps like this does.
Nico's Rating: 8.9/10
General Consensus: 8.2/10
About our team.
Spending his days locked away in a cupboard, Zain can get bored. So we feed him Computer games! His appetite is huge and his knowledge wide and varied. When not locked with the winter coats, Zain teaches creative writing in Bedfordshire.
Zain brings a technical view to the table, along with a tempering influence on Nico's somewhat one-track, motorsport is best, mind. He maintains that no game will ever get a ten, "perfection is a goal that will never be reached," he said.
Obsessed is the best way to put it. If it isn't motorsport, he isn't interested. Our owner, editor and principal contributor, he has a love of motor racing, which boarders on addiction. During the week his cravings are fueled by the virtual world, leading to an impressive array of Motorsport games on his shelf.
Nico covers, F1, ACO Rules and SRO racing for Racing-Report.com along with the Brazilian Website, F1Mania.net. When not busy at his keyboard, he also drives a truck.