by Jeff Gates
reviewed on X360
It’s All In The Details
Both positively and negatively the tiniest details in DiRT 3 will catch your attention. On the positive side small things like human speed bumps sprinting across the track during a rally and the driver’s leg actually pressing the gas when accelerating are really nice touches. The removal of the annoying chatter between opponents that we saw in DiRT 2 is probably the best tiny detail. I never really needed to hear Dave Mirra’s dinner plans to enjoy a racing game. I guess it took an outspoken community to shut Dave up, or to convince Codemasters it was a foolish idea. Either way no one is sorry to see it go.
Looking towards the negatives, I am slightly miffed at the system used to gauge your position during a rally event. In the first DiRT and its sequel your opponent’s time was set in stone as you began. This meant that the game could gauge your position by comparing your times as you went through each gate, of which there are typically three. However, in DiRT 3, because your opponents are actually racing with you and you can catch up to them or see them wreck, their times are not even shown if you are the first vehicle to take to the course. This is because as the first car you are first to set a time across each gate, and by the time the second car gets to that gate the on-screen-display showing the times has vanished. What that means is you do not know if you are first or last until you finish. While it is pretty cool that you can catch up to an opponent or see them crash, it comes at the cost of really having no idea where you stand while racing. Thankfully though you do not always start first.
I was also a little upset that the mechanical damage seems to be far more forgiving than the original DiRT. Pretty much every bump would cause your vehicle some harm in the first game, finishing a race with a car in perfect condition was practically impossible. While DiRT 3 does offer mechanical damage it only consists of wheel or engine damage, both of which take pretty solid knocks to harm. In contrast the first DiRT had almost a dozen different mechanisms of the car that could be damaged, making it much more realistic than DiRT 3 at least in that regard. It seems that the Codemasters team decided that this was either too much work to implement into this game or no one cared to have it. I feel I can speak for a large portion of people when I say it is a necessary realistic feature. The least they could have done was made it optional like the complex pace notes. On top of this the car list is a bit lacking. There are plenty of rally vehicles and race vehicles but I was saddened to see that there is only a single trophy truck and buggy. There is also no sign of any of the awesome events in the first DiRT like racing semi-trucks and U-Haul sized vehicles.
Left 3 in 30 meters to flying redemption!
The keywords for DiRT 3 are accessibility and variety. With a plethora of options you can customize your settings to create whatever DiRT you want, easily making this one of the most user-friendly racing titles ever. DiRT 3’s multiplayer includes both ranked and unranked play. They both consist of team and individual modes each full of great things to do. My personal favorites are the hardcore team races in ranked matches and the gymkhana free play in unranked matches. In addition to online multiplayer DiRT 3 offers split screen play, a feature I was thrilled to see - not enough titles today offer this great way to enjoy video games. If you are not feeling social you can lose hours in the DC Compound completing challenges and testing your drift skills or simply take it to the Tour and make your way to through the seasons to the championships.
All of this is wrapped in an attractive and coddled package that takes this franchise to new heights while still remembering what got it there. For those who have waited this is really what we have wanted all along. There are issues here and there but the love and care that went into this game is evident. Codemasters clearly realizes that we enjoy their games as much as they do and made sure to capitalize on a great community that wants to see them succeed. DiRT 3 is pretty much a shining example of a great symbiosis between the people that make the games and the people that play them.
The most accessible racing game to date, blends DiRT 1 & 2 perfectly, gymkhana is wonderfully executed
Where is the ultra-realistic mechanical damage? Not enough vehicle diversity outside of rally. Colin Mcrae would not be pleased