It seems that every few months a lower profile game comes along that knocks everyone back in their seat. DiRT is definitely one of those games. A combination of minimal promotion and a poorly timed release date (just 3 weeks after Forza 2) were no doubt factors that made DiRT slip past most people’s radars. But this is where Xbox Live truly shines. A demo featuring 3 event types and 3 car classes hit the Marketplace around the time Forza 2 hit shelves and it really was undeniably good. Luckily for us, it proved to be a tiny sampling of the goods that pack the full career in DiRT.
From the moment you fire up DiRT for the first time, you’re impressed by it’s presentation. The in game graphics are phenomenal – both car models and environments, but the menu system is what really stands out. Specifically, when you’re waiting for an event to load up, you’re presented with stats ranging from your top speed, longest distance without crashing to most rolls and terminal damage. Since these stats are always changing, it never gets tired rolling through them. But once all the stats are done, the fun begins.
And I do mean fun!
There are six event types in the career pyramid, and all of them are very fun. I didn’t get bored of a single one and never skipped an event from top-to-bottom. I did however, very much look forward to the CORR events – which are light truck and buggy races that take place on enclosed tracks of dirt and heavy mud. As you can imagine, they’re rough, wreckless and ridiculously fun! If nothing else, they proved to be a well placed break from the time trial based rally and hill climb events.
When you first start the career, the pyramid is quite daunting. And while it does take a good 8 hours of actual racing time to complete, it’s a shit load of fun from the get-go. So much so, that it pretty much ruined Forza 2 for me. I’ve only played Forza 2 a couple times since I picked up DiRT, and it felt crazy tedious. Suddenly, I was no longer interested in doing 6 or 7 lap races in factor spec, D class cars. I’m hoping that I’ll get back into Forza 2 at some point, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.
Beauty comes at a price
As I mentioned, DiRT is visually impressive on every level. Unfortunately, you’ll see some slow-downs because of it when there’s a lot of activity on screen, but I was pleased at how well the Xbox 360 could deliver the goods. The dropped frame rates never last long and aren’t nearly as bad as I had read on some of the major review sites.
Online however, paid a massive price. There isn’t a single online game type where you can actually race with other people. They’re all time based, which is all kinds of lame. And as you can imagine, the CORR events are nowhere to be found. I found the wait for an event to start can also be quite long, which can be hella annoying if you’re stuck in a lobby with a bunch of obnoxious dinks. Thankfully, there’s an option to disable lobby chat all together.
Yelling in my ear
The first time I did a rally, I was fully distracted by my co-driver reading off his pacenotes as we progressed through the checkpoints. It wasn’t long before I understood what all the numbers meant, though. And once you get the gist of what he’s saying, it becomes incredibly helpful. Since rallys are timed, you need to get through those points as fast as possible. Problem being – the courses you’re racing are often single lane dirt paths cutting through rolling hills and forests. Naturally, you want to take it a bit slower, but that’s not an option. In turn, you have your co-driver reading off the distance and degree of the up-coming turns as you approach them. Needless to say, you find yourself completely zoned in when doing rallys and definitely need a distraction free environment if you want to win. I played DiRT mostly at night when my daughter had gone to bed. 😉
Give it a go
As discussed last week, the coming months are jammed with massive titles spanning every genre. Now’s a great time to get DiRT-y and have some fun with the Xbox 360’s lone rally racing game.