DiRT Showdown Zombiegamer Review | Encourages Bad Behaviour

In short

DiRT: Showdown is the top-down, zany spinoff from Codemasters which takes the much loved DiRT franchise in a new direction. Codemasters dropped the serious attitude and focused on destruction, and if you can let your hair down and take it for what it is the Showdown package offers tons of value, addictive gameplay and some good variation in the interim while we wait on the more serious-racing DiRT sequel.

Developer: Codemasters Racing
Publisher: Codemasters Racing
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
For fans of: Destruction derby, DiRT series, arcade racers
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.0/10

What we loved

  • It is still a DiRT game
  • Carnage
  • More carnage
  • The carnage never stops
  • Great social features

Not so much

  • Upgrading cars seemed a little superficial
  • No online connection means you lose out on plenty

 

Gameplay and Features

Codemasters became Codemasters Racing and suitably so, as fans will tell you that the racing mechanics have been exquisite since the studio revamped the DiRT series and picked up the Formula One license. The physics are somehow inviting to us core sim-fans as well as not being overbearing to the arcade loving driver. The driving physics have been watered-down somewhat for Showdown and the focus is more on the destructive theme of the game. You do not need to concentrate as much on ‘good driving’ as with the rest of the series, but still requires a decent amount of input. This was probably Codemasters’ way of not alienating the core DiRT fan, which I believe they got right. The handling is more forgiving, requiring less counter-steering for example, and this lets you get on with the rest of it – the bashing of opponents or pulling off stunts.

The more lenient handling was particularly noticeable to me in the only event that was in any way reminiscing of the previous game – a race with some Gymkhana tricks included. You need to race against one opponent and pull of the familiar stunts along the way – do-nuts, drift and smash through objects. The stunts are easier to pull off than with the previous DiRT to aid you in getting to the finish line quicker. This event even uses official Ken Block cars like the Monster Fiesta and Subaru.

That is where the similarities to the series stops, the rest are typical to the ‘demolition-derby’ inspired theme. The cars looks like they were pulled off a scrap-yard then neatened up [a tad] and pumped up with big motors and protective cages. The cars vary from a few hatches for the typical bendy tracks where you mostly race, to pick-ups, hot-rods and American muscle cars of old, all adorned with official sponsors like AEM, Monster, Snap-On tools and much more. The cars vary in strength, speed and handling depending on what category they compete in. You can use your hard-earned cash to purchase new cars along the way and you can upgrade the vehicles in the previously mentioned characteristics. By performing stunts or bashing other vehicles you earn nitrous boost, a system that is nowhere near as exaggerated as with normal arcade-racing titles. Your vehicles also have a ‘health’ gauge which obviously depletes as you get bashed.

DiRT Showdown features a full glossy career mode as well as online and local split-screen multiplayer modes that have a strong focus on the social aspect. The career events or races include the previously explained Gymkhana races, some straight forward racing with destruction and then the full-on demolition events where you basically need to destroy the opponents. The career mode is familiar to the series and has you work through events on Pro, All Star, Champion and Legend tournament levels. Scoring first to third places unlocks new vehicles and events along the way.

Race Off is basically a straight forward race against opponents where you can use your boost for the edge. Everything still goes here, so you can still bash opponents and will even be rewarded with some boost for doing so. There are also some ramps which you can launch off, again for some boost bonus. The 8-Ball races has you race around the eight ball which crosses in the middle. You need to hope that you don’t get t-boned in the junction, and again it’s the first to cross the line. Rampage mode is a timed event that takes place in arenas where you basically need to bash the opponents and get scored by the more damage you dish out. Knock Out mode continues with the destruction-only aspect, but this time drivers need to mainly knock each other off a raised platform to tally up points.

The multiplayer code works brilliantly and there is a good selection of modes to take part in. I was particularly impressed with the online modes’ variation which is anything but straight forward racing or mayhem. Players can create a party lobby or join one, then select which events to compete in. There’s the racing and the demolition modes but then there are some unique events like a ‘Capture the Flag’ or ‘Tag Mode’. Outside of the lobbies you can compete against your friends list thanks to the stat-tracking Racenet and even submit challenges for your friends to try beat. DiRT Showdown includes the YouTube functionality as with the previous title where you can upload videos at will. Lastly if you want to play alone outside the career mode, you can give ‘Joyride mode’ a go, which is a sort of freestyle driving exercise where you can pull off certain objectives to unlock areas and extra collectibles.

Sound and Visuals

Codemasters really got the presentation down when they revamped the series. The menus are inviting, modern-looking in that distinctive style that is now familiar to the series. Showdown uses the same design with a different flavour and is again one of the most impressive I have seen. There are nice little touches like in the loading screens, you can jog the camera around your selected car which stands in breathtaking beautiful scenery for backdrops.

The visuals are of the highest quality, with the bright and bizarrely kitted out cars taking centre stage. The cars certainly look the part and fit the theme well. The brash vehicles are adorned with sponsors’ decals which give that ‘official’ look despite being very off-beat, and then they are torn apart in a realistic-looking manner. The arenas are packed with visual-effects like sparks flying and explosions adding to the authenticity.

The audio quality, like the visuals, is simply brilliant right down to the last detail. The varied motors roar to different notes, and there is the constant thud of vehicles crashing into one another. There is running commentary which is well suited to the arena events and just adds to the ambiance.

If you have any experience with the DiRT or F1 series you will know the highest quality that comes from Codemasters, and Showdown continues with the high standards – an absolute delight as an audio-visual experience.

Closing comments

I do prefer the more serious previous DiRT which was spot on for the true petrol-head in me, with its mixture of racing and the awesome Gymkhana. Showdown still offers that competitive action the series in known for; but in an unruly package that encourages bad behaviour. It is definitely one I would recommend thanks to the enjoyable physics, well designed events and the carnage which never gets old.

Zombiegamer rating:

 

 

Read about our ratings here.

About r0gue Zombie

Known as Victor Vieira to his mommy, r0gue is a Consoloptipus [con-sol-opti-pus] plural: con-sol–opto-pi • Derived from Latin meaning “he who is too cheap to buy a gaming pc” • Commonly found online. If encountered in natural habitat, presume dangerous [to himself]. • From the ‘alles-terian’ group [will eat anything]. Needs regular feeds.