by Ben Lelievre
previewed on PS3
The Wacky World of Rally
I must confess, I do not particularly like racing games. Going round and round on tracks never bore any connotation of fun to me. I am a gamer who needs chaos and unpredictability in my polygonal action and few racing games live up to these standards of inspired randomness. Mario Kart comes to mind, along with the Motorstorm franchise and the newcomer Split/Second. By its very nature, the DiRT series (previously known as Colin McRae Rally and then Colin McRaeĺs DiRT) was enough to feed my need for violent an unpredictable racing. Rally is a riot and the Colin McRae's DiRT franchise always rose to the challenge of creating some of the wildest experiences in racing games. And there is a new heir to the legacy.
What Do You Mean Enhanced Experience?
Racing is racing, right? If you are not a gear head, it is useless asking for anything more than to race round and around on a single track. That is not what rally is about. It is kind of a unique spin on racing in itself; a team sport that is not raced on a circuit, but from one checkpoint to another. The navigator is the driver's right hand man; he has the checkpoints on a map and sets the course to follow. The sport was practised through the years with different spins to a basic set of rules. DiRT 3 offers fifteen of those racing modes. Nine pure rally classes: WRC, Open rally, Super rally 2000, Group B(4WD), Raid, 60s rally, 70s rally, 80s rear wheel drive, 90s, and six non-rally modes: Rallycross, Modern Trailblazer, Classic Trailblazer, Landrush trucks, Landrush Buggies, and Gymkhana.
The Gymkhana mode is new to this edition. It is the hot new thing in rally right now; a speed based event where you have to perform through an obstacle course that will force you to pull some spectacular moves such as 360 degrees spins, drifts and parking boxes. It is short, intense and featured in DiRT 3 for your enjoyment. The best is yet to come from this new addition, as we have seen a wide variety of objects being used in a gymkhana challenge, such as exploding trucks, but in real life they are more about barrels and orange cones. DiRT 3 seems to be set on giving you the ultimate gymkhana experience.
New Skin, Fresh Faces
Colin McRaeĺs name is not on the cover anymore, but that does not mean that DiRT has given up on branding. There is a new kid in town, American All-Star driver and daredevil Ken Block. He was featured in Colin McRaeĺs DiRT 2, but takes the centre stage this time around. He is the new face of Rally around the world and the new face of the DiRT franchise. He is also one of the fiercest gymkhana competitors on the scene.
The driving forces behind the DiRT franchise are the solid presentation of rally (a sport more popular in Europe than it is in America) and its tight controls, making for a fun and competitive racing experience. Codemasters made sure to keep their winning recipe intact with more cars (over fifty), more locations and more routes than ever before in the series, while keeping the driving consistent. You will be able to switch between overhead and cockpit view and, of course, split screen during offline multiplayer.
During the career mode, the player will be put in the skin of a pro rally driver while hopping between the different modes, with an occasional opportunity to do a gymkhana challenge. As the player progresses, he will have the opportunity to race on three continents: Europe, Africa and America. The DiRT experience is definitively back, but this time everything has been expanded, multiplied and fine tuned.
The Seal Of Quality
Racing games are a genre you either love or hate and well, so is rally. Motorsports are not something you can get into easily. Crazy drifts, splashing mud and wacky crashes are not for the racing purists and the speed freaks, but for the gamers that love a good unpredictable race. Codemasters have been leading the pack for everything rally related in video games of late and their games continue to be a blast to play. The hype behind DiRT 3 has given me no reason to think that is about to change. If you are into rally, or chaotic racing in general, DiRT 3 might become the best available game on the market upon release.