Colin McRae DIRT - hands-on

Everything you know is wrong. Well, probably not everything, even if you went to a good school. Anyway, Colin McRae has changed: it’s been totally reinvented, but in a good way. In a really good way.

So out goes the porridge-pale Scot glued in a Subaru and racing where your only rival is the ticking of the clock, and in comes a horde of intelligent drivers, enough cars to jam I-5 and an annoying American commentator so “pumped” that he’d probably burst into a shower of Mom’s apple pie if you jammed a needle up his Old Glory. And after about five minutes you will want to, believe us.

It’s also fast. From the old Mark II Escort to the brutal FTO, there is a nip and a slip about the handling in DIRT that makes it lively and convincing, but without being too hardcore or harsh to be enjoyable.

And it’s pretty too; eyeball pleasingly, next-gen-justifyingly pretty. Just looking at these immaculately rendered slabs of metal and mph-muscle is enough to set your lip quivering. Actually seeing one slip from scalding sun to dark shadow with perfect reflections on its hood, or scattering a tire wall in a low-speed chicane scuffle, and you might need to get someone to remind you to breathe again. The next-gen polish on DIRT is incredible.

If this all sounds a bit radical, a bit Riiiiidge Racer, well, it isn’t. This latest McRae offering is still fantastically classy and intriguingly complex. And with an immense Career mode that already contains an amazing 66 separate, nail-biting events and with five difficulty levels; we’ve barely scratched the top layer of DIRT.


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