It's a bold step from Codemaster's to split the DiRT franchise into two, rather than just making one complete package. But at least the needs of the arcade racer and simulation fan will be clearly catered for. The hardcore rally fan will have to wait a little longer to find out what Codies have in store for them though - Showdown is for the crash-happy lunatics.
Codemasters are taking the bombastic elements of the current DiRT games - Ken Block, gymkhana tricks and the like - and showcasing the lot in a package of explosive excitement. This is where you have to smash your way to the finish line while still performing the sexy power-slides that not only make you look skill, but also boost your points total at the end of the race.
Above: There's a mix of real-life cars and made-up motors in Showdown
The ins and outs of the scoring system are still being tweaked but from what we played hitting jumps, clattering other vehicles and skidding through turns is a must for increasing you tally.
Added to the madness is the ability to use nitro - a first for the DiRT series. On the dusty figure eight track we got to bash around, our immediate thoughts turned to how much it feels like Motorstorm. For a split second, we expected to hear a beep and then see the car explode into a ball of flames because we'd overcooked the turbo. Thankfully it didn't.
Above: Instantly brings back memories of PSOne crash-fest Demolition Derby
The driving itself feels just as tight as DiRT 3. In fact, it's probably a little easier to fling the car around corners due to leaning more to arcade racing. Obstacles like tyre-walls block routes, but last ditch manoeuvres instantly steer you out of danger.
Sadly, we didn't get to see Showdown's destruction derby mode, but we're told it will follow traditional methods and feature King of the Hill. Not the cartoon, rather a raised platform where you have to knock your opponents off the edge of while trying not to be dropped yourself. One such venue for this will be under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as Codemasters look to include lots of brand new areas to Showdown.
A huge Tokyo area is set to provide twice the area of the playground in Battersea Power Station from DiRT 3, an open-world place with huge jumps and objects to spin around. The whole Hoonigan scene - a phrase coined by Ken Block to describe the tricks you can do in a car - is being turned up to eleven as you'll now be able to compete against other drivers in the same arena.
And the last talking point is the Crashback (néé Flashback) replay mode, which instead of allowing you to rewind to a safe moment before your crash now enables a sort of Kill Cam so you can see which vehicle took you out. You then know which car you should be hunting down on your next lap.
It's all shaping up nicely, and hopefully the next time we see it we'll be able to get to grips with the destruction derby mode, which should look like this...
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