"A New DiRTy Showdown"
DiRT Showdown, the latest title in Codemasters long running racing series, takes the rally racing series in a completely new direction, becoming arcade-like and featuring events focusing on demolishing opponents cars. While the game is somewhat fun and feels more accessible than ever, there isn't quite a hook that draws the player in to play more.
DiRT Showdown takes the gameplay of the DiRT series, which itself was based on Codemasters previously popular Colin McRae racing series, and it adds a more aggressive layer of gameplay on top. Unlike other games in the series, a big crash doesn't stop the race, and in some events is actually encouraged. The main single-player mode has players going through a series of events in various cities around the world as they earn money to upgrade the vehicles available to drive and purchase newer ones. There are a few online multiplayer modes in addition to the extensive single-player mode, which does its best to match the Autolog system present in EA's Racing games (Burnout Crash and Need for Speed), without being an 1:1 clone of it. Expanding on the options to customize a player's experience, the game allows the player to choose a call sign for the announcers to use when talking about them and upload gameplay clips to the player’s personal YouTube account.
The basic gameplay in DiRT Showdown is similar to any other racer, with a solid feel to the cars during races and a simple drifting system, but with offensive maneuvers added to the game, things don’t feel right. With this title coming from a series that is so polished and usually doesn’t reward reckless racing, the game doesn’t really make the crashes that happen look serious. In almost any other racer on the market today, when a crash that destroys racers happens, it's felt and the action is usually stopped; but here, crashes just happen. In events where crashes are encouraged to achieve a goal, it's hard to tell if you're succeeding or not because everything just meshes together In fact, when a noteworthy crash happens, the game allows the player to view a replay of it, but only if they choose to press the Right Bumper. Often during my playtime I was first place in many crash-focused events and was surprised, because it felt as if I wasn't damaging anyone. The game will say you have "T-Boned" a car, which is usually a high-damaging maneuver, and not show any real body damage. Another strange phenomenon in the game is how the damage is applied to cars. With no focus really put on crashes, there were many times in the game where I hit a car front bumper to front bumper and couldn't tell who actually won the encounter, due to damage not appearing to be done. This all happens even though many of the cars in the events are unlicensed.
Graphically, the game is pretty slick and looks excellent. Everything from the menus to the graphics looks really good. Graphics while in races may appear a bit dark, but it's more of an aesthetic choice opposed to a gamma issue. Audio gets the job done, but is mostly just there, with a few licensed tracks that are punk rock sounding; it would have been nice to hear something more varied similar to the Forza series.
DiRT Showdown is a solid effort at yet again rejuvenating a series that has gotten a bit stagnant after a previous switch around. However, the game needs a bit more work on the crash front, in its current state the game’s main difference from previous titles in the series doesn’t feel as if it will be something that will stay around long. With titles from years ago doing what this title attempts to do so much better, it's not hard to see why the racing genre is in a rut right now. This isn't saying Showdown is a bad game by any means, but its main addition isn't handled too well and brings it down as a result.
GameDynamo's Score for DiRT Showdown (X360)
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