Will DiRT 3 Claim the Checkered Flag?
I typically avoid racing games for the simple reason that they often do not have enough variety to suit my personal tastes. Let’s be honest, how often can racing around various streets and tracks and occasionally upgrading your vehicles stay engaging? There have, of course, been exceptions to my rule, including the Need for Speed and Driver series. I also gave DiRT 2 a critical eye when I originally strapped into the driver’s seat for a few laps around the track.
Despite my personal bias, I was left with a good impression overall thanks to DiRT 2's innovations. While still geared mainly toward racing purists, I didn’t hesitate to label it a step above the standard racing fare. I was especially dazzled by the graphics and DiRT 2's tongue-in-cheek bow to off-road racing's hillbilly roots. Developer Codemasters’ additions to the sequel also included authentic vehicle weight transfer to the wheels, upgraded traction system, and an innovative replay mechanic that allowed players to rewind and restart the race from any point based on a limited number of "flashbacks.” So, what does that leave for DiRT 3 to improve upon?
- Bad weather? Bring on the mud! -
Codemasters claims DiRT 3 will boast: “more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series.” What this means for players is twice the number of tracks as DiRT 2 and over 50 of the best vehicles, covering 50 years of off-road racing. Perhaps the most anticipated feature of DiRT 3 by race game fans is the addition of Group B cars. Group B vehicles represent an era in the early- to mid-1980s where little regulation led to the development of vastly overpowered rally racers. Unfortunately, these sophisticated and lightning-fast vehicles were involved in a number of fatal accidents, leading to the cancellation of the Group B class. Predictably, the Group B vehicles have acquired nearly mythic status among rally race fans.
DiRT 2’s main complaint from fans was that vehicle damage had little impact on the race outcome. Critics also contended that weather played little or no part in performance on the race course. Codemasters claims to have addressed the weather issue, and we can only hope that damage will have more bearing on the competitions in DiRT 3. Unlike DiRT 2, where the player began the game as a novice, DiRT 3 will start players off as a world-class professional driver. Upping the ante further is the inclusion of gymkhana-style challenges. Here, driver control will be thoroughly tested with 180 and 360 degree rotations, figure 8s, and other advanced maneuvers mid-race.
- This will be the biggest DiRT in franchise history -
While DiRT 2 sprinted to success amongst racing video game enthusiasts, it remains to be seen if DiRT 3 can add enough to the franchise to avoid the “if it ain’t broke” syndrome.
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