by Joseph Barron
reviewed on X360
Let’s get dirty!
DiRT 2 is Codemasters’ second game in their reinvented Colin McRae franchise. On the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2, Colin McRae was a name synonymous with the highest quality rally racing games on the market. McRae himself was a former World Rally Champion. Today, the video game represents McRae’s real world pursuits in the time leading up to his death, including a huge variety of off-road racing disciplines.
At the beginning of the game, the raft of changes since the first DiRT quickly become apparent. Gone are the traditional menus, instead replaced with an interactive motor home where you choose events from a world map and view online multiplayer options on a wall chart. Venture outside and you will see fans and mechanics wandering amongst a bustling paddock area. Here you can view and buy cars while a band plays on stage in the distance or you just watch the world go by.
Cleaned up graphics
And what a gorgeous world it is. DiRT 2 has arguably the most accomplished graphics of any racing game since Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. Codemasters’ EGO Engine pumps out some phenomenal visuals, boasting twice as much detail as the first DiRT. From epic sweeping canyons, to packed grandstands at closed circuits, it is a joy to behold. You will never see any hitches in the framerate either. It is an incredible achievement.
Perhaps most mind-boggling is all the attention to detail at the side of the track which you will notice more and more as you play through the single player game. Night tracks have fireworks exploding in the distance, flags blow in the breeze, mud and dirt builds up steadily on your car during races. In first person cockpit view you can even have your avatar hang from your rear view mirror as a lucky charm and water splashes on the windscreen look so realistic you have to pinch yourself to make sure you are not really there. The game also boasts some superb real-time damage modelling, so expect some rather epic crashes!
A more realistic approach
The game’s incredible presentation is wrapped around a deep and rewarding single player game. The handling model for all of the vehicles is significantly more realistic than the original DiRT, which was often guilty of “floaty” car physics. In DiRT 2 there is much more emphasis on controlled braking for corners and precision drifting, things which are commonplace in the real world of rallying. There are now notable differences in car handling depending on the road surface as well. This is particularly evident on courses which are made up of different track types, such as gravel, mud, sand and asphalt.
In terms of length in the single player, you can get to the end credits in around 6 hours, but by that point you will only have experienced about one third of the game’s events. It will take well over 10 hours to complete the rest. Events range from point to point rally stages, to rally-cross races on closed circuits and truck & buggy races. There are a few different variants for each of these as well. Such as a rally event where you must hit gates to stop the clock and elimination events, where the person in last place at certain points in a race is removed. Most of the car events are a huge amount of fun and there are circuits in all four corners of the globe, so the environments never get dull. However, the truck and buggy events can become a bit tedious and though there are a lot of world locations there are very few tracks in each one, so if you spend a long time on in one country the circuits start to get a little repetitive.
Gorgeous graphics and realistic handling.
Truck and buggy events can be tedious.