Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review

Written by Harry Butler

September 9, 2009 | 09:33

Tags: #colin-mcrae #dirt-2 #graffiti #racing #rally #rallying

Companies: #codemasters

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 - Gameplay

While Dirt 2 isn’t a purist's rallying game in any sense then, that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun or innovative, with Codemasters bringing brand new game modes in the form of Last Man Standing, Domination and Gate Breaker events. It’s the latter that’s the most entertaining, raced on standard rally tracks (although, sadly sans co-driver).

Along the track are destroyable balls of bright yellow foam bricks which when hit add seconds to a countdown, with the winner the driver at the end of the run with the most time remaining. Hit more walls, and the time goes up, but slowing to swerve and hit them will rob you of precious time – it’s an addictive mix that makes for a great “just one more go,” feeling and which is surprisingly challenging, while sneakily teaching you how to take the best racing line.

Another aspect of Dirt 2 that’s sure to ilk rally purists is the games hip, cool, X-games powered presentation, that wouldn’t feel too out of place in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Edgy graffiti styling, a soundtrack filled with modern indie and electronica bands and a plague of wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men (really) make sure that this isn’t your dad’s Colin McRae, with the game’s menus set inside a 3D “I’m cool because I don’t care how crap it is,” mobile home in the same way GRID’s were inside a high end garage.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review Colin McRae: Dirt 2 - Gameplay

It all seems a little over the top when all you want to do is jump along to the next event or select a different car, with far too much time spent simply staring out at the 3D crowds and advertising hoardings surrounding your car paddock waiting for the game to let you choose another event.

And choose you shall, as Dirt 2 offers over 100 separate events set at a dozen or so different locations around the world.progressions come via a simple level-up system whereby winning events at harder difficulties means more XP, which in turn unlocks new locales and race types, as well as higher difficulty levels driving faster and faster car's. You'll also earn cash as you race (again, more cash for better finishes at higher difficulties), which is then spent on adding new motors to your garage as well as specific upgrade kits to allow each car to compete in higher ranked events.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review Colin McRae: Dirt 2 - Gameplay

The only snag with this comes when you start really progressing in the game and find yourself often repeating the same track, in the same cars, numerous times (just with bigger engines). Once you've mastered and memorised the courses (almost mandatory in some of the co-driverless events) then these repeats soon become pretty easy unless you're playing on the most brutally tough of difficulties, and it seems a shame that Codemasters hasn't even given us the option to at least race tracks in mirror mode to mix things up a bit.

However, Codemasters has progressed in making the game feel a bit more personalised, with a consistent array of "extreme" Rally names like Ken Block and Dave Mirra (isn't he a BMX rider?) taking part in the races alongside you and exchanging banter as you jostle for position or cruelly smash them off the road. They'll even, rather unnervingly, refer to you by name (an option on start-up), although we're a little disappointed to find them all to be far too polite – where's the abuse when you shove them off the track and into last place?
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