Colin McRae: DiRT 2
The racing genre seems to have undergone a shift in focus as of late. While the likes of Gran Turismo and Microsoft’s Forza 3 are battling it out for ultra-realism, there’s a small group of developers trying to open up the playing field. Bizarre Creation’s Blur has opted for weapons while Black Rock Studio’s Split/Second felt an unpredictable environment is what was needed. As for Codemasters, it’s treading a line between them all.
At its heart, DiRT 2 wants to be nothing more than an addictive racing experience. Allowing a huge degree of choice, it’s exceptionally easy to either slam all the driving assists on and concentrate on just taking every corner without crashing or attempting to try your hand at mastering the art of realistic driving, which is where DiRT 2 really shines.
Codemasters has catered incredibly well for both novices and experts though, with the latter presented with an astonishingly real representation. Whichever direction a driver takes, mind you, the tweaks the developer has introduced will pose a challenge regardless. Whereas the first DiRT’s tracks did ask you to overcome certain hurdles, this game’s are much more aggressive and intense. Weather, particularly water, can have a huge impact on a car, affecting tyres and the weight of a vehicle to the point of upturning a race entirely.
Of course, to ensure it doesn’t lose pace with its rivals, the next McRae has ramped up a twist of its own. Presentation and personalisation has been a consistent highlight with Codemasters’ titles these last few years, making you feel far more attached to a racing game than the usual ‘take car and compete’ mechanic. DiRT 2 takes this idea and runs with it, aiming to create a world where not only do you care about every race, but even become attached to the ride you continue to rack up wins with.
Ultimately, however, the second DiRT’s true potential lies in the phenomenal handling of all its cars and the stellar job done with the visuals. Its competitors may be relying on what could arguably be described as gimmicks, but even they may find themselves with some serious competition against what is the dark horse of this year’s driving games.