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DiRT Showdown review

AT A GLANCE
  • Tyres and cars flying everywhere
  • Large variety of gameplay modes
  • Beating your mates by a tenth of a second
  • Unsatisfying car damage and collisions
  • Stripped-back feeling compared to peers
  • Being referred to as 'They'

If you do lay down a particularly good time in any event, there's an option at the bottom of the results screen that allows you to challenge your friends, a bit like EA's exemplary Autolog system in Need For Speed. Just select 'Challenges' from the main menu to see how you're faring in any given match with your mates next time you log in.

Above: Unbeatable? Select 'Send Challenge' and throw down the gauntlet to your mates

However, it's not all brilliant online. Some of the capture the flag events like Transporter feel even less like DiRT, descending into what may as well be remote controlled car racing as everyone scrambles for the flag and the goal zones. This feeling is exacerbated by the collisions, which are probably the biggest area of consternation.

Diamond-strengthened chassis?

Firstly, let me say that the tech here is still impeccable. The EGO engine is the absolute best racing engine in terms of fluidity, versatility and spectacle on current machines, even outputting at 1080p on Xbox 360 (only 720p on PS3). But the impacts have inexplicably been toned down. Considering the whole point of populating the car rosters with many non-licensed vehicles was to avoid contractual limits on how much damage can be dealt, the amount of actual destruction is disappointingly feeble.

Above: The cars in the CG intro seem heavier and dent far more easily than the game's

Back on the original Xbox, TOCA Race Driver 2 let you rip entire corners off your car – something that carried over to Race Driver GRID. DiRT 2 saw doors, wing mirrors and more come off, complete with gorgeous crumple effects across the cars' bodies. So why are the vehicles in this deliberately arcadier offering so damn resilient? The crumpling is less pronounced, side panels warp but don't break and the wheels always stay on your car, no matter what you do – the best (worst) you can get is a puncture.

We've put together a crash montage from the highlights of our time with the game so far, which is still a tour-de-force for the 360 hardware, but not quite as dent-filled as we expected it would be.

As a result, the majority of impacts feel unsatisfying. Considering these cars have a health bar, replenishing nitrous and can respawn to the track when they flip, why can't we see terminal and spectacular smashes rip the car into two (or twenty) pieces? It's OK to then have the car flash for a bit before continuing along as before. Arcade gaming lets you do that, it's what makes it different from a sim. For whatever reason, DiRT Showdown seems unwilling to let you destroy the cars it's encouraging you to destroy.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Genre: Racing
Published by: Codemasters

15 comments

  • killswitchzero7 - June 20, 2012 1:54 p.m.

    only worth a rent
  • IceBlueKirby - May 25, 2012 12:03 a.m.

    Despite the crashes being somewhat underwhelming (they still looked good in the video, just not what I was expecting) I'll have to check this out, probably when I can find it cheap. I used to love Destruction Derby 64, but it hasn't aged well at all, so this seems a good replacement.
  • avantguardian - May 24, 2012 5:17 p.m.

    i echo the desire for grid 2. the first one, plus forza, makes a delicious racer sandwich.
  • DickSingh666 - June 17, 2012 8:13 p.m.

    Win
  • DarkSynopsis - May 24, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    I've loved pretty much any Codemasters Racing game to hit Xbox 360 and I really enjoyed DiRT 3 but all this Gymkhana stuff is a pain! It will be awhile before I pick this one up since it does not seem to focus on the Racing as much and that is the best part of the DiRT Games! I really hated having to do Gymkhana in DiRT 3. I'm with most others also that GRiD was pretty awesome and for some reason we have yet to see it get a sequel! We have even had 2 F1 games since it came out! WHY IS NO ONE OVER THERE WORKING ON IT!?
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 25, 2012 1:35 a.m.

    Actually, Gymkhana is an even smaller part of the main game than racing, and it's all over in about a minute each time. The Joyride mode is more stunt-based, so you need your Gymkhana skills there, but it's totally peripheral to the main game.
  • usmovers_02 - May 24, 2012 11:03 a.m.

    Why is it that the one Sequel everybody is asking for is the one we're not getting? All the Dirts are fine, they don't appeal to me but they are quality games. But how is it that Dirt has 3 games AND a spinoff while GRID doesn't even have one sequel? They're not counting TOCA as part of the GRID series are they? I'd LOVE to see a TOCA sequel because they tried for a more serious approach but I'm certainly willing to settle for GRID 2.
  • Dadyo238 - May 24, 2012 8:26 a.m.

    Why is it only 720p on PS3 when it's 1080p on Xbox 360? The PS3 is the more powerful machine, so shouldn't it be the other way?
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 24, 2012 9:54 a.m.

    The EGO engine just doesn't seem to run as well on PS3 for whatever reason. Just look at F1 2011. If it helps, I don't think it's native 1080p on Xbox, it looks upscaled to me. But the retail packaging says 720p on PS3, and 720p, 1080i and 1080p on 360.
  • Imgema - May 24, 2012 5:42 a.m.

    I played the demo and... ok, another racing game that is too dark and uses too much orange. As if they try to look that it takes place on Mars. Also, it runs at 30 fps, which i find unacceptable for racing games in this generation. I'd rather play the XBLA Daytona USA, it runs at 60 fps and it takes place on Earth.
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 25, 2012 1:36 a.m.

    Perhaps your TV's picture settings aren't quite right? I definitely wouldn't call it dark. Or orange!
  • Imgema - May 25, 2012 2:46 a.m.

    Well, every other game i have is bright and, well, looks ok. Its not just this game, many racing games have this kind of lighting (for their most part) that's full of style (i guess) but looks unnatural. They don't look as natural and bright as older racing games like Colin Mcray 05 which i'm playing right now and looks awesome.
  • Imgema - May 25, 2012 2:49 a.m.

    Sorry, i forgot to mention that, yeah, maybe its just the demo.
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 25, 2012 8:02 a.m.

    The old Colin McRae games were great, yeah. I spent so much time on the PSone original. As for the lighting, yes, I see what you mean. I think the sunset over the Baja track in that race video up there is just for effect, but it's not present in the majority of races, but does look rather beautiful while you're playing. I can't really fault the graphics in Showdown (though I'm very keen to see what EGO looks like on next-gen), it's more how it plays. But if you don't like the sunshiney orange filter, I see where you're coming from. GRID actually had quite a bit of that too. Sometimes it makes it look like CG, which is great. Other times... just orange :D
  • MasterBhater - May 24, 2012 4:02 a.m.

    The only reason I would buy this game is if it lived up to the high standards GRiD set, with the driving physics and the cockpit view and the amazing destruction derby figure-8 that it had (A track that I still play every once and a while to this day). According to your review, this game hasn't lived up to that, and the moment I heard "unsatisfying collisions" I was convinced: This game isn't worth buying.

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