It’s been almost exactly a year since we saw the release of the acclaimed rally racer DiRT 3
, and tomorrow will see the launch of the anticipated arcade-meets-rally spin-off DiRT Showdown.
Visually, it’s set to pick up right where DiRT 3 left off, possessing the same crisp visuals and vehicle selection that attributed to the critical and mainstream success of its predecessors. Gameplay-wise, elements of the fast-paced DiRT 2 and simulation-inclined DiRT 3 have been mixed to create a whole new racing experience, fostered by new vehicle and game mode additions to the series. Handling is even more accessible than ever, and players should have no trouble keeping their car off of barriers and on the track.
Producer of DiRT Showdown, Iain Smith, has stated that Codemasters have literally “thrown out the rulebook” in the making of the game, instead looking to differentiate it from other titles in the series. The series has been critically successful since inception, with critics praising the brilliant visuals and wealth of gameplay options. The game looks set to even further improve upon previous entries, and whilst it should be known that it is a spin-off (DiRT 4 will be coming sometime in the near future), that’s not to say it’ll buck the lofty standards of the series.
Codemasters have added several new and exciting game modes to DiRT Showdown, focusing on stunts and destruction. ‘Hoonigan’ events are stunt-intensive, with modes including ‘Smash Hunters’, ‘Trick Rush’ and ‘Head 2 Head’. ‘Smash Hunters’ sees players race against the clock to destroy objects within a set time limit, ‘Trick Rush’ simply allows players to perform stunts for points, and ‘Head 2 Head’ is a one-on-one battle where players are pitted against each other and compete for the highest score.
On top of ‘Hoonigan’ events, ‘Demolition’ events have been added for thrill-seekers, featuring modes such as ‘Rampage’, ‘Hard Target’ and ‘King of the Ring’. ‘Rampage’ is essentially the game’s destructive deathmatch variant, where players must collide in a derby-esque style in order to earn points. ‘Hard Target’ pits you up against the rest, forcing the player to avoid being hit by other cars in a fast-paced environment. Finally, ‘King of the Ring’ will see players race to a central part of the raceway and crash to earn points.
Pinch points have also been added to a variety of different arenas, tracks and game modes. When racing, pinch points refer to points on the track where traffic will congest and players will be encouraged to collide, allowing players who are lagging behind to make a comeback while those in front battle it out. In ‘Demolition’ events such as ‘Rampage’, in the final 30 seconds of the derby players can attain double points for hits. Essentially, accessibility has been improved and pinch points add another element of excitement and unpredictably to game types.
The three different car classes included in the game all serve a different purpose. The ‘Racing’ class consists of muscle cars and SUVs and will be utilised by players looking to make a quick victory. ‘Hoonigan’ will feature smaller stunt-oriented vehicles, and the ‘Demolition’ class is made up of larger vans and trucks alike. Popular locations such as San Francisco, Miami and London will all be making an appearance, and the stunning in-game production value will take you to another world of excitement.
Online and split-screen multiplayer akin to that seen in DiRT 3 will be making a return in DiRT Showdown allowing up to eight players to face off online or two players via split-screen. ‘Crashbacks’ (known as flashbacks in previous DiRT titles) will allow players to view high-impact crashes from multiple angles and upload them via YouTube integration. Let’s hope Codemasters get it right with DiRT Showdown as the YouTube functionality in DiRT 3 was limited at best.
DiRT Showdown is undoubtedly shaping up to be every bit as entertaining as previous entries in the series, possessing the potential to bring the racing genre back to its former glory. In a world dominated by graphical prowess and people who just want to run around shooting guns, it is easy to overlook the quality of a great racer. With a huge array of new, thrilling game modes, vehicles and features, DiRT Showdown is certainly one to watch for racing enthusiasts, but also those who may be sitting on the fence.
Watch out for the official review, coming on Monday.
By Jake Galouzis