2012-05-15

Dirt Showdown – Fast, Crash And Flash

by Yo Snyder

I haven’t been a follower of the Dirt franchise, but I did very much enjoy the rally racing fun of Dirt 3. Dirt Showdown
isn’t exactly a direct sequel, but perhaps more of a spin-off of the
series. This game, from what I understand, is less about the technical
proficiency of racing and more about the spectacle and the thrills.
That’s all fine and good, but I have to admit, some brief time with the
demo left me underwhelmed.

Of course, there isn’t much to the
demo. You can try one single-player race and then you open up the option
to play the multiplayer Rampage mode; basically a crash-up derby. The
racing part feels familiar to the mechanics and handling of Dirt 3, if a
bit more arcadey, and the fast-paced, figure-eight track with a risk of
smashing into cars at the middle intersection is fun; light, breezy,
fun. Kind of hoping there’s a bit more to the single player. This game
is focusing more on the stunts, the crashes and the Gymkhana events from
Dirt 3. It’s also clear this game is all about social
interaction and spectacle more than a deep racing experience. Post times
for your friends to beat, get an Autolog like update what they’ve
accomplished, watch online matches, post videos to YouTube and much,
much more.

That being said, I felt like there some things missing
(obviously since it’s a demo, but these are things I hope won’t be
missing from the full game). You earn XP like in most games, and with
that you can upgrade your car and liveries, but that seemed like pretty
much it. One thing that kept me from truly loving Dirt 3 was the
limited choices I had for which cars I could choose and how to customize
not just their handling but also their look. And speaking of liveries
(your sponsors who emblazon their logo on your car), seeing options for
things like “Skin Industries” and something about hookers and a fairly
obviously intended to look pagan but “cool” pentagram symbol also gave
me pause. You don’t have to pick those, but still, I don’t remember that
stuff in Dirt 3.

Dirt Showdown is a slightly different direction for the series, and the focus is obviously on the “show” in Showdown.
This game is about flash and looks, spectacle and thrills. It’s also
about showing off on social media and being connected with friends in as
many ways as possible. Nothing wrong with that really, but the demo
just left me unimpressed. The racing didn’t really grab me the way I
expected it to, especially considering just how good Codemasters is at
making great racing games. Impressions can change however, so we’ll see
what Showdown puts on display when the full game hits towards the end of this month.