DiRT 3 | Zombiegamer Review


In short:

DiRT 3 offers everything that DiRT 2 offered and more. New headline features include the stunning Gymkhana event and the ‘You Tube’ feature. Not only is this the definitive off-road racing game, but its fuss-free nature puts up a heck of an argument as one of the best racing games. Simulator and Arcade fans should find joy with one.

Developer: Codemasters

Publisher: Codemasters

For fans of: Dirt racing of all kinds

Reviewed on: Xbox 360

Also available on: PlayStation 3

If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.5/10

What I liked

  • Style of graphics
  • User -interface design
  • Loads more cars
  • Loads more to do

Not so much

  • Loading times

Overview

DiRT 2 revived the series and rally games. More importantly, it made rallying fun and ‘cool’ again. Codemasters’ EGO engine is a proven one with racing games and works well. DiRT 3 now boasts a whole lot more cars including many classic rally icons, spanning over five decades. More locations, tracks, and more event types are also on offer. The very cool Ken Block and a few others are your hosts and they will take you through rally events, X-Games tournaments, Gymkhana’s and more, making DiRT 3 a comprehensive off-road package.

Gameplay and Features

Usually when racing titles mix arcade with simulator characteristics it turns out to be a complete mess. Personally as a sim fan I like my ‘realism’ over ‘idiocy’, which is usually what is on offer with arcade racers. I mean I get why people like arcade racers and I like them to, for fifteen around fifteen minutes. So I usually hate racing games that lie somewhere in between as the dynamics are neither arcade-like nor sim-like. Codemasters somehow found the right recipe and pulled it off, well!

It you’ve played DiRT 2 or F1 2011 you will know where I am coming from. Both titles [and now DiRT 3] lean heavily toward realistic or simulator dynamics, but tone it down a tad, enough to keep you racing flat out and enjoying the rush. The racing flows nicely, which is common with arcade titles – so you don’t need to put in all you know about racing just to keep on the track. That said there is quite allot of customisation to tinker with for the sim fans that know what they’re doing. Codemasters somehow got the formula spot on to deliver realism without being over-the-top. With a bit of effort, anyone can race, and race fast.

The EGO engine works well with producing racing games and Codemasters have worked out the gameplay for the genre to provide hugely fun competition in all the events on offer. The handling dynamics provide the look and feel of realism while not being overwhelming. If you do get it wrong, you can use the Codemasters trademark ‘flashback’ feature which allows you to literally rewind to before the crash and redo it. They are limited in numbers and you do get extra XP for not using them.

Fortunately the tracks are well designed not to drive you mad [like many rally games of the past]. You will need to counter-steer, brake and follow racing lines, but I found the tracks reasonable in difficulty.

As briefly said, DiRT 3 includes more modes to compete in than the predecessor. You can compete in ‘trailblazer’ or traditional rally modes, ‘rush’ races which are basically head to head races, X-Games and the newly introduced Gymkhana modes. Picture a skate park, minus the skateboard, add a rally car and you have Gymkhana. You compete to earn from bronze to platinum medals with the major focus being on style.

The singleplayer campaign is mostly about getting four DiRT Tour Seasons under your belt which feature a mixture of the explained modes. You win races and earn medals to earn XP or rep, to unlock cars, team livery for your vehicles and events.

You can compete in all the events online in multiplayer mode or in split-screen extending your DiRT 3 experience. Online modes include the Pro Tour and Jam Sessions with Pro Tour being more about racing and Jam Sessions about style. Online modes earn you fans, rep and liveries.

The ‘YouTube’ feature has been added which allows you simply to upload videos to your YouTube channel. There is basic, but enough editing features for you to make your videos like you want. Here’s me showing off a little in my ‘banged up’ Lancer…

The last new feature is the introduction of weather – which changes things up this time round. The weather really pushes the atmosphere in the game and makes some events more challenging, more nerve-wrecking. A welcomed addition indeed, for the complete package.

Graphics and Sound

The EGO Engine creates picturesque landscapes for DiRT, making it a very pretty game indeed. The weather effects also look good – the difference between sunny and hot, to wet and gloomy have a dramatic effect on the look or atmosphere, and vary from race to race. Landscapes vary from dusty flat deserts to snow-capped mountains and everything in between, again adding to the well-rounded package.

The vehicles look stunning, scaled down perfectly, the licensed decals swathed over the well detailed vehicles. The EGO engine also shows the effects crashing has on the vehicles brilliantly so you can expect some dramatically dented vehicles at the finish line. Visual flaws are almost non-existant, hell if there was any to report, I must have forgotten because they were so minor. Codemasters did a fantastic job of putting the visuals together.

Then there’s the sound. Oh, my, word does DiRT 3 sound good! The most important aspect with motor-racing games for some of us is the engine sound, the masses of vehicles in DiRT 3 sound perfectly wonderful. The different motor types from turbo-charged motors, to different power plants, you can expect realistic and lively notes blaring through you speakers. The clunk of the metallic gear changes, to the slight whistle of the turbo; all elevate the intensity in a race.

The voice acting is like something straight out of a skating or snowboarding game; it goes with DiRT’s ‘cool’ image and X-Games theme. Some of the constant ‘yapping’ might get a bit much for some, but I can’t say I really minded the mostly British accents and pep talks as they guided me through the game.

The Electro Music only plays as when you are in the menus and is nothing to go on about. I do like the fact that music is killed for the events themselves – it shows the more serious side of the game – the racing, and allows you to concentrate on the car’s soundtrack.

Conclusion

DiRT 3’s wondrous gameplay and solid mechanics work well to keep the adrenalin flowing and exciting. The game looks good, sounds stunning and is some of the most fun to be had in any form of motor-racing games. Hands down the most complete and most enjoyable off-road game out there.

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