DiRT 3 video game
Codemasters • MSRP: around $59.99
Previously known as the Colin McRae Rally franchise, DiRT3 has a new hero and it’s Ken Block! In this new video game you can drive his car, compete in rally and rallycross as well as visit his compound in London to perform many of his best tricks. The new game includes many offroad genres, such as trucks, buggies and, our favorite – old school Group B rally cars – as well as rally cars from the ’60s and ’70s. In fact, it has everything for boys who like to play in the mud. The game includes multiple challenge modes, including traditional rally, freestyle Gymkhana, plus Trailblazer and multi-car Head 2 Head, Land Rush and Rallycross stages. The career mode takes you through a series of different events where your results increase your personal reputation, leading to offers from teams to drive better cars. It’s basically a points system but makes you feel like you’re being rewarded for your exploits. DiRT 3 has more cars, locations, stages and events than the previous games in the series, claiming to have more than twice the track content of 2009’s DiRT 2.
The racing takes place on rally stages in Europe, Africa and the US, with weather conditions ranging from bright sunlight to rain, snow and even night conditions. As with any video game, online content is a huge part of the gaming experience and DiRT 3 has a VIP Pass to give you access to competitive multiplayer modes and allows players to upload videos directly to YouTube. This function has huge implications for the viral success of the game and could lead to some interesting new avenues for the footage itself. We look forward to seeing where that goes.The game is available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, although the VIP Pass is having some issues on the PlayStation network as we went to press.
I should state I was a fan of Sega Rally, the WRC series and the Colin McRae series, and yet I’ve got to confess to some frustration the first time I played DiRT 3. Initially, the game was too simple on the “easy” setting and too hard on the intermediate. You also don’t seem able to alter the steering response, so the cars are very twitchy. We returned to it the next day and suddenly the hours of annoyance paid off. The game opened up and we were winning races, battling for positions and playing with the car set-up. Every car allows you to alter elements such as downforce, aero, diffs, suspension, brake bias, etc. However, the settings are fairly basic and we find ourselves giving almost every car the loosest setup possible in order to drift the corners faster. This isn’t a bad thing, but it means the cars seem to have the same basic physics, rather than individual handling characteristics. There are some variations but essentially you drive everything the same from FWD to RWD and AWD. That said, DiRT 3 is utterly addictive. We’re working through the career mode at present to build our driver rep in order to receive invites to drive better cars for different teams. This path gives you a great sense of personal satisfaction and opens plenty of options. The game also sidetracks you into unexpected stages and events if you do well. Again, this removes some of the predictability of the game and includes things like a drifting challenge in Africa or head-to-head rally super-stages. Unfortunately, the regular driving events can feel slightly repetitive.
Driving a Group B rally car on dirt is fairly similar to a buggy in mud. Admittedly, the great scenery always looks different and the water splashes are fun because you lose vision until the wipers clear the screen. However, it perhaps doesn’t have the depth of experience as, say, GT4 – the benchmark for all driving games. A welcome relief comes from the gymkhana events that require you to practice new skills but in a totally different environment. You also hunt down certain objects and complete different tasks in classic video game fashion. While DiRT 3 has some flaws (such as the slow loading speeds), the multi-car racing action is genuinely exciting in career mode, so we can only imagine what it’s like online – we haven’t ventured onto Xbox Live yet because we want to hone our skills before taking on the 12 year-olds out there! Any fan of driving games, rallying, rallycross or offroad racing should definitely add DiRT 3 to their inventory. It’s a top game with great graphics, exciting interaction and so many cool cars. – Greg