When I ask most of the other RoboAwesome guys if they’ve played Dirt the look I get it one of puzzlement and disbelief. They don’t seem to grasp why I would want to play a game based around the World Rally Championship sport and off-road racing in general. It’s easy to understand why too – for here in the States WRC just isn’t popular like it is elsewhere around the world and since most people think of motocross when they think of off-road racing instead of CORR and rally-cross the concept of Dirt just doens’t click.
So now I’ve finally got my hands on Dirt 2 and the staff have grown even more detached from me. Oh well – they’ll never know the thrill of barreling down a dirt road in the Subaru WRX STi, sailing over a jump, flying 100 feet in the air, and landing at a weird angle only to go cartwheeling and tumbling into a thick of trees…
The game starts you off in a beat up trailer with barely a car to your name and a few races open to you. Although the only real thing anyone will care about is getting out there and racing the game is veiled in a paper thin story mode. Along the way you’ll make friends with off-road racing superstars like Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, and Dave Mirra.
But that won’t last long because while they’re your friends off-track once the rubber meets the dirt these jerks will do everything they can to push their way to victory sometimes leaving you totally busted on the side of the road. Don’t misunderstand what I mean to say however – the AI isn’t what I would call cheap but they definitely aren’t pushovers and you’ll find yourself really pushing your car and your nerves to the limit trying to shave seconds off your rally time.
And this is where the game truly excels – taking a Sunday drive down a country back road isn’t going to net you first place. You’ll need to balance cutting corners and taking risks with maintaining control of your car for the sake of finishing the race in one piece.
Multiple camera angles are available to best suit your racing sim style. If you really want to make yourself nauseous throw yourself into full blown cockpit view and send yourself into a spiral flip. It puts hair on your chest. Also – I’ve done that with my Toyota – they’re such hearty little cars.
The racing controls for Dirt 2 are super tight and as with any top shelf racer leave very little to complain about. The cars roll, slide, and pitch with a feeling of weight that you’d expect of a 2,000 lb. rally car. Gone are the floaty physics and weird center axis pivot the cars run on. Now the game feels a bit more grounded (gravity got back to work) and the racing just feels much more engaged.
Also as with the previous games the damage modeling is simply awesome. Even if you think you’ve run a clean race there always seems to be a bumper or a fender missing from your car. Heck - I even got a trophy for an absolute clean race and by the time my car crossed the finish line the tailpipe was hanging off the back – hilarious!
Crashes can be highly spectacular and frequently had me chuckling wildly as my car flipped and rolled end for end sending bodywork and debris in every direction. An instant replay to show your crashes is especially entertaining. There are few games I’ll sit and watch replays for – Dirt 2 is one of them. As much fun as it is to crash when you manage to get through a course with the deft and expertise of Sebastien Loeb you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that isn’t quite matched by other racing games out there.
Apart from the rally racing which is just one facet of the games many sided racing styles there are numerous other events to compete in from trophy truck racing to buggys to Kamaz type trucks (google it). Plenty of cars, trucks, and well – frankly garbage trucks are available and all sorts of liveries are unlocked along the way to customize their appearance.
While I probably won’t convert anyone who’s played a Dirt game before and didn’t like it I’m willing to bet there are some who have never considered the series before and brushed it off as little more than shovelware racing. Don’t be fooled though – underneath the grimy and dusty layer of dirt there is a formidable racer here and if you’re into WRC or CORR there really isn’t much competition out there to speak of.
Dirt 2 is a much more improved and much more realized rally experience when compared to it’s predecessor Dirt and the Colin McRae rally games of the olden days. Dirt 2 succeeds against Dirt in every way and is a must own for racing enthusiasts.
|Pros||Awesome race gameplay and much improved physics. Alot of content - will keep you busy for hours. New rewind feature let's you recover from really bad crashes (limited use ability). Multiplayer|
|Cons||Occassional difficulty spikes throughout the career mode. Not a whole lot of WRC fans in the US|
|Verdict||A great racer and a must own for racing enthusiasts and rally fans.|