Let’s Get DiRT-y

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!

CORR

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

Rally

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

Co-driver

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

Rating: 4/5

DiRT

18 Responses to “Let’s Get DiRT-y”

  1. I liked the demo of this game a lot. I found myself playing around a lot with it when it first came out.

    I haven't really gotten around to picking this up because I am saving for all the big games coming this fall and winter. There's at least five 360 games I want plus UT3 for the PC.

  2. I got DiRT from Gamefly and it was fun, but it looses its appeal (to me) after about the 10th race. The graphics are amazing, and it runs smooth. But the handling is just a bit too loose for my liking and the lack of online multiplayer just killed it for me ๐Ÿ˜

  3. Almost forgot to mention the menu system. Simply amazing. I can't believe such a simple feature/part of the game is so impressive.

  4. I was just about to buy Forza 2, but now I'm wondering if I should get this instead. Which one would you recommend that I get?

  5. yeah, this game looks sick..but I'm stuck now on when I should upgrade to the 360, I have friends who have had mad problems with theirs and I have read about your issues as well … Any insight as to when I should buy?

  6. elclinto, wait. There will undoubtedly be a price drop in the coming months and by then the 65 nm internals should be out. I would ballpark it around Nov.

  7. Not much of a fan of the racing genre, but I have been meaning to pick up a racing title on the 360 for a quick blast on now and again.

    There's so many around to choose from though. Is DiRT the one I should be buying? I know you raved about FORZA, but that looks too complicated for a racing novice like myself ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I so much love that menu interface. Tried the demo, but somehow the game felt not as nice as previous Colin McRae-games. But maybe I haven't played the demo enough? The looks are stunning, no doubt.

  9. I bought this game a while ago. And I love it. It's brilliant. The menu system makes me check all options because of the cool transitions. The game has an amazing feel to it and it looks amazing. (Nothing to complain about there).

    Too bad about the online thing though. I thought that I would be able to play with my friends and bump into each other and watch some really dirty moments.

    But I still love the game.

    @Rockers Delight, I think you should buy this game. It's easy if you want it to be easy.

  10. Cool – I was thinking of picking up Dirt. My addiction to Forza has calmed down as well, so now might be a good time.

    I did like the demo – only thing that seemed a bit strange was the car handling. A bit "loose" or "slide-y" or something like that.

    Maybe it was just a sudden contrast to Forza though.

    And the graphics do look great…

  11. @Ian: You should give it a rent. If nothing else, for the achievement points. I racked in over 700 from the SP pyramid alone. It's not one of those games that you feel guilty from grabbing easy points from either. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Dustin & Dennis: Yes, the handling is definitely something that takes some getting used to. Especially after playing Forza. DiRT is much more an arcade style racer in that regard and I believe the less realistic handling adds to the fun factor.

    @John: It's hard to do a direct comparison of the 2 games as they're very different. But I will say that Forza 2 is much more of a commitment, has a much larger learning curve and is significantly harder. I would download the demo for both or give them a rent if you have to choose either or.

    @elclinto: What Dustin said re: 65nm. I did a ton of reading on the xbox.com forums last night as I have a feeling I'm going to have to pick up a new console some time soon. Like you and everyone else, I don't want to pick up another ticking time bomb and would rather wait for the 65nm models to roll out. It seems the general consensus is that all models manufactured from July '07 onwards have the new hardware. Problem being – we're not going to see them in stores until the old stock is sold. People are speculating that it will be closer to the holiday season before we'll be able to pick up a Core or Premium bundle with the new hardware, where as the Elite should be easier to find. The reason for that is that the Elite is in high demand, and supplies are extremely limited as is. But even then, it will probably be closer to September before we see the new Elites in stores.

    @Rockers Delight: Yeah, as I mentioned in my comment to John, you'd probably be best off demo'ing or renting them both and deciding for yourself. But I would recommend DiRT for those that aren't totally into racing games or are more concerned with simply having fun playing that the most realistic and accurate experience.

  12. I've played every single version of Colin McRae Rally – (which is what this game is… except poor old Col has been pushed into the background… to give it more International appeal).

    It's always been a great game, even from the PSX days…

    I haven't been tempted by Dirt yet though. I thought the demo was pretty damn good… but it has become a bit Americanised for my liking!

    It was a lot more sim-y back in the day. There wasn't any of that 'X-TrEEEEme!!!' whooping – you just had Col's co-driver Nicky Grist reading pace notes in his soothing Scottish tones.

    Plus over here it actually came out at the same time as Forza…

    It's nice to know that other countries may take notice of the series now though, even if some of the authenticity has been lost… it a great series of games.

    Think I might look to pick it up on the cheap. Codies games have a habit of dropping in price pretty quickly.

  13. @Alexander Aye, easy is what I'm after. As I said, I'm a racing noob. More of a tactical shooter girl I am ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Matt Guess DiRT is more up my street then! Cheers

  14. Rented DIRT a couple weeks ago. Loved it.

    @Rockers Delight: In the easy mode, the game is a breeze. You'll have nearly 1 minute leads on almost every track in easy mode. No need to fear. ๐Ÿ™‚

    After about 10 hours of racing I had almost 900 points (career, championships, etc…) which was a bonus on top of the gameplay.

    The only reason I haven't bought it is because of the lackluster online modes.

    If I see a $20 off sale in the next couple months, I'll definitely pick it up.

    Overall, Gran Turismo and it's like, are in big trouble with arcade-ish games like DIRT moving in.

  15. The same thing happened to me.

    I own both forza and DiRT. I tried to go back to forza but I had a 7 lap race to do on a track that I have raced many times already, no thanks.

    I had to give away DiRT for a week, so maybe I can get back into forza.

    Too bad about the online mp though, would have been fun racing, more so than forza.

    You're also right about the concentration part, its like gearing up on a guitar hero2 hard level song, you just don't go in half asleep. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. The menu system for this game is absolutely AWESOME. Never seen anything like it. It of course helps that the game is superb as well… ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I like the buggy races the best. Reminds me of Motorstorm for PS3. Online play is weird, with no other players in sight; just their running times. Who that that was a good idea?