That pack of racers deserves a special mention, purely because it’s only three cars strong. Are there any drivers behind the opaque slate windows? You certainly wouldn’t know it on the easiest level of the World Tour mode, which you’re forced to endure before you can try anything more challenging. There they just pootle along as slowly as possible, obligingly piling up on the most innocuous of obstacles to let you past if some act of God causes you to fall behind.
The difficulty level becomes a little bit more challenging towards the more advanced portions of the game, but we don’t reckon many people with a good grounding in driving games of any type will ever have their pulse quickened by Dirt 2. On the positive side, the framerate is generally very smooth, which is always a good thing to see in a racing game. Except when you’re going around some corners, where it judders a bit, but that’s not too problematic at Dirt 2’s generally sedate speed.
Back with the negatives, the way they’ve managed to get it (mostly) moving so greasy-slick appears to be by omitting any notable trackside detail and blurring the textures to a level of fidelity that seems, to our 2009 eyes, to be reminiscent of early N64 quality. If you flip the car over in the exterior view you’ll notice that the underside is coated with what looks like a sheet of greyish cardboard painted in a pattern that might, if you’re squinting through fog, appear vaguely reminiscent of the bottom of some sort of motor vehicle.
Using the bumper camera, because there’s no cockpit view, we kept getting distracted by a big blocky shadow moving across the foreground, creating an optical illusion that didn’t exactly help the accuracy of our steering. It’s some sort of real-time lighting effect, with the car casting a shadow depending on where the sun is. It looks okay from the outside of the car but is rather off-putting when you’re trying to concentrate on the road.
Dirt 2 plays like a pared down facsimile of an excellent game, bearing little more resemblance to its parent title than the token GBA conversions used to back in the day. It’s not as if this couldn’t be done on Wii. It’s more like nobody really cared (or possibly paid) enough to give it a proper try.
Sep 10, 2009