DiRT Review

With Colin McRae Rally 2005 being the last of the series to use this nomenclature, hearing that DiRT would be the next in the series brought a smile to my face. I personally used to never care about racing, rallying, or even cars for that matter, but my father actually made it fun working on cars and restoring old 60-70s classic automobiles. This was the turning point that increased my interest in cars. I started to watch rally events on television with my father, and bam, my interest in rallying became intertwined with my PC hobby. Having been exposed to the series since Colin McRae Rally 2004, I jumped at the opportunity to review DiRT and I wasn’t disappointed.

As mentioned previously, DiRT is the newest spiritual release in the Colin McRae series. Sadly, the only place you will see his name mentioned is inside the races. It is absent from the box and I was surprised to see it disappear from its prominent position. A lot of other mainstays are absent, too. The usual British announcer is gone replaced with an Americanized version. Not saying this is a negative change, it is a deviation from what used to be the norm. Certain weather effects, like snow, have disappeared, but then again, the graphics engine has received a huge overhaul. One item that should have been changed is the reliance on Starforce. Sadly, we originally heard that Starforce was not present on the PC version, but after I installed the game and checked out the device manager, the drivers that Starforce installs were present. This is one item that scars an otherwise perfect game.

Rig Specs: E6300 Core2Duo, 4 gigs of Ram (only 3.3 seen), 8800GTX (This takes the rest of the addressable memory), installed on a 150 gig Raptor.

The graphics in DiRT are superb! From the reflective surfaces to the damage modeling on the car, the game looks amazing. Lets not forget the dirt caking up on the car and the rain splashing on the windows while driving. I cannot repeat myself enough times to proclaim that the game looks amazing. Even though DiRT is a cross platform release, nothing was lost in translation from the 360 to the PC, and heck, it sure does look pretty on the PC with everything turned up. This is possible one of the best racing games that I have seen on the PC. I remember crashing into a tree and both of my front tires fell off, causing me to forfeit the match as the car wasn’t going anywhere.

Only two gripes are worth mentioning about the graphics: The first consists of the lack of weather effects and the second one deals with your car resetting instead of rolling down a hill. Addressing my first issue, previous versions had rainfall and snow as one of the diverse weather effects that would add variety to the race tracks. Now, sadly, these features are missing in action. Hopefully a patch or an expansion will add these weather effects back into the game. My second concern deals with the fact that the game has damage modeling, but it seemingly is crippled by the fact that rolling down a hill just resets the car. These are just small imperfections in an otherwise fun game and they do not detract from the overall enjoyment.

If you are expecting a musical masterpiece out of this game, prepare to be disappointed. The only time you will be immersed in music is while navigating the menus and during the replay of the race. The good news is that this music fits the game’s genre and is properly placed. Sadly, as I have mentioned before, there will be no music during the race, only the rumble of the engines and the bending/breaking of steel and plastic.

The sound of the automobiles as they streak through the tracks sounds just as if I was sitting in front of the TV, watching a Rally live. The sounds become even more attractive as I scraped my car along walls or ran my car into different barriers around the race track. The growl of the engine makes it seem like you are in the driver’s seat with the copilot (or is it driver) giving you the lay of the land. On the topic if voiceovers in the game, it is interesting to find out that Codemasters ditched the old school British voiceovers to have them replaced with an Americanized version. Nothing wrong with that, but having played the previous releases of the rally game, it was a shock to the senses to hear some of the corny one liners that were spouted before the race begun and after it was finished. I also might not be as receptive to change as many other people. Or Codemasters is attempting to make the game more mainstream for American gamers. Who knows…

When I began to review this game, I thought I would have my trusty 360 controller to rely upon, but it turns out that I replaced the USB adapter for the device. Out of desperation, and for a lack of a wheel, I had to fall back upon the keyboard controls. Using the keyboard makes certain fine tune adjustments to the trajectory a little more complicated, but they are satisfactory for to get into the game. As always, the player has the choice between automatic or manual shifting, and I personally stuck with the automatic shifting since I was too lazy to keep on pressing keyboard buttons to shift. With a controller or a wheel, shifting would have been easier. Other than that, the controls are responsive even though getting used the diesel truck controls is a tad bit complicated. I always ended up tipping over my truck as I took a corner too fast.

One thing you definitely have to remember is that this game is action oriented and much less of a simulation to allow easier access to the casual gamers. The trade off is that some serious simulation

Just a fair warning before you jump into this game, it does come with the Starforce protection scheme. So if you have any issues with having this software installed on your computer, do not install this game. I will take the customary 10 percent off of this game due to the invasive copyright protection software that is present.

Even with Starforce integrated as the copyright protection scheme, this game is a joy to play. With 46 licensed vehicles present, the player will have a tough choice as to what to drive. Everything from off-road buggies and big rigs are present and fully pilotable. The usual fare of front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive cars are also present. Vehicles are purchased by participating in races and bringing in cash through victories, which causes a desire inside of the player to win. Failure in achieving victory will just grant you a pep talk and the opportunity to replay the race.

The types of races range anywhere from the usual rally to uphill racing. Rally Cross events are present too and definitely add a choice for the player in what they want to accomplish today. During the events, points are scored depending on how the player places and these unlock new tiers or races inside of the tier. As mentioned previously, there are different types of races but each one is tied to a certain vehicle class. It would have been kind of interesting to see big rigs in an uphill race.

The multiplayer portion of DiRT seemingly was just tacked on without any thought associated with the process. You might join a group of live individuals in a lobby, but this is where the interaction seizes to exist. Only two types of races are present and both of them entail your racing by your lonesome. Lets not forget that the only If you don’t mind getting

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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