Colin McRae Dirt 2: Review (Xbox 360)

by Victor ‘r0gue’ Vieira


Off-road racing just got cool again.

Codemasters buried the bland ‘rally’ theme and went with a funky new ‘X-Cross’ one, so right away you will see the X-Games logo as well as associated sponsors pasted all over the homepage. The original ‘Dirt’ received a mixed-bag of reviews, some really enjoyed it and others mildly. Overall it was considered a decent game which definitely created enough anticipation on what Codemasters could do with a sequel. Developed in-house by Codemasters and choosing to stick with the long-standing ‘Colin McRae’ franchise but this time wanting to appeal to a larger audience of race-fans. Predictably Codemasters used the ‘Grid’ game-engine which is very apparent. A whole lot of ‘fresh’ was crammed into this title and it definitely shows immediately that you are in for something new and cool in the world of dirt.


Gameplay and Features

The gorgeously tweaked menu used in ‘Grid’ allows you to navigate from your trailer-van or you can wander around outside checking out the available events, play online or tweak some of the games many options. You can also check out your rides, customize the livery, settings or buy new vehicles. Other options outside include viewing online-leader boards and a magazine cover which gives you some interesting facts based on your games stats, which also customizes itself as you go along. Inside your trailer you can visit the map to choose a race, watch an instructional video before going to one of the many locations including China, Croatia, Malaysia, Morocco, London, Japan and more. Each country differs from the next in characteristics and cater for different racing conditions.

The Career Mode will keep you playing Dirt 2 for a long time to come with over 100 different events to take part in. You choose an event from the map and compete in races gaining XP as well as the cash prizes. XP allows you to reach higher levels and therefore become more efficient and renowned as well as gain respect from other drivers. As you progress through the levels you will unlock new liveries for your vehicles, new countries, new events to take part in and you some crazy gifts to decorate your vehicle’s dash and rearview mirror.

Career Mode events offer plenty of variety starting with the standard Rally as we know it. Trailblazer is basically rally without the help of a co-driver calling the track. In Gatecrasher you have to hit as many gates as you can in a certain time. Rally Cross has you in a straight forward multi-car race from A to B. In Raid you race in ‘pick-ups’ and other 4×4 type-cars. Then the highlight for me was the adrenalin-packed X-Games Europe, Asia and America. You need to qualify for the finals by coming at least 3rd in the two races leading up to the final. Then after that, the higher you finish the better your prize. In multi-player each event can be played with up to seven other players. Online options include the same races from the single player mode and all of the vehicles.


So the important aspect to all race fans will obviously be the handling. Like I said earlier, GRID is very evident in this title but while I cannot stand ‘arcade handling’ with road-racers, the fact that this is on dirt makes the game’s handling manageable and feels really fun…..period. You see I know what I like in a road-racer, something as close to the real thing as possible. On dirt though it’s all about fun, and what put me off previous rally games was flying down a trail, touching a tree, 4 seconds lost and “that’s the rally folks.” Who the hell actually knows how to simulate a 200km/h race down a thin path on gravel for crying out loud? With this title however, you are able to feel like you are doing a great job and it allows you to drive completely over-the-top without punishing you for little errors as a hard-core sim would. It’s a great new take on motorsport than race fans needed. So you hit a wall and rolled your car fifteen times over, straighten out and carry on. Depending on what difficulty you put it on, the AI should challenge you even on ‘casual’ but you have a chance until the last kilometers. You can make your challenge as difficult as possible though, put it in manual, up the AI level and put full damage on. Not for me though, I want to blast down the dirt trails as fast as possible. Having said that, on ‘casual’ the AI actually add well to the rush of the game by pushing you hard, while not be unforgiving.

Dirt 2 certainly looks great with realistic looking environments, so no complaints here. Frame-rate is silky-smooth with no real lag or tear to complain about. With the environments so beautifully created they give a real sense of realism when racing through them. The sound again is good with the cars sound and other effects. Damn, the Mitsubish EVO X sounds soooo heavenly. So generally polished gfx and sfx to add to the games fun and thrilling character.


Bits I liked

  • Now everyone can go rallying.
  • Adrenalin rush of note.
    X-Games awesomeness.
  • Fresh and original take on the world of off-road racing.
  • Plenty of racing equal hours of fun.
  • Diverse events, tracks and cars.

Bits I disliked

  • So much liveries, so much ugly.
  • ‘Dash toys’ too much for me.


Dirt 2 is not trying to be a ‘hardcore’ simulator experience. Instead it goes with a fun, fast, furious and mad take on dirt-racing with rewarding handling while not being overly difficult to manage. It does so in a stylish way, ultimately giving the player hours of thrilling and diverse racing. It is a package filled with quality finishes and fresh touches to visually stimulate as well as appeal to a larger audience than rally games before it. I think Codemasters achieved what they set out to do in gaining a larger audience and just make the game as epic fun and they could. I highly recommend Dirt 2, it is a worthy day-one purchase. Enjoy this game for what it is, a fun X-Cross racer that requires guts over pin-point accuracy. Fun fun fun!

Dirt 2 is also available on Playstation 3, PC, Wii and DS.

Fore more visit Dirt 2 Official website.


About r0gue Zombie