Platforms - X360, PS3
Genre - Action/Racing
Aust. Classification – PG
Publisher - Codemasters
Dirt meets Demolition Derby in a break from tradition for the DiRT series that leaves any other rally game sinking in the mud. It's not a sequel to Dirt 3 or any of its predecessors, it’s a spin- off and I think it is great to see well known franchises taking chances and changing direction. No doubt DiRT Showdown is bound to attract some naysayers but when they pull it off like this, I say lay down your barbed tongue and have some fun because this is exactly that, FUN.
Unlike the other DiRT games this is no rally simulator, far from it. It's more like an arcade Destruction Derby arena style racer. The race categories on offer here across various stages include Race Off, RamPage, Knock Out, 8 Ball, Head 2 Head, Eliminator, Hard Target and a few others.
I will go through a few of them just to give you an idea of what to expect; Hard Target is Demolition Derby where you try to score as many points as possible in the arena before you get wrecked. Rampage is similar but it isnt all over red rover when you get wrecked and instead working on a time limit where points are racked up for T-boneing, Head On's, wrecking other cars and so basically various forms of smashing into other cars. Gymkhana unfortunately has become a bit more mundane here when compared to DiRT 3, performing stunts correctly in order to move onto the next in Head to Head.
Domination requires you to win sectors of the track until owning sectors and winning the race while the goal in my favourite mode Knock Out is to drive up onto a risen platform and fight it out up there with 1000 points going towards the scoreboard in your favour for every car you manage to knock off the platform. 8 Ball mode is probably my next pick where the infinity shaped tracks require the player to race or should I say drift themselves around trying to avoid collisions at every cross road. Elimination races are just as expected but with the added obstacles of competitors burnt out cars left littered on the track accumulating with every new lap, turning into a race around the wrecking yard in the end.
Each new stage increases in difficulty gradually and I felt like I grew with this game and my satisfaction level along with it. With that said, on paper this may appear to have a load of variety, but after a few stages the same categories keep appearing with no new categories so it did become a bit repetitive when playing for hours at a time. However if you are like me and just like to race for a couple of hours at a time there is enough variety to keep coming back for more. With each stage containing 12 challenges each there is plenty of overall content.
Visually it looks similar to Dirt 3 and the change in scenery was sufficient enough of a difference for this style of game, especially when they are already pretty great. Pyrotechnics spectacle the arenas and tracks for a real Crusty Demon like atmosphere, but at the same time act as a bit of a distraction especially when going across the line for the next lap, when the firecrackers went off here I even let go of the accelerator a few times in the early parts of the game thinking I had finished the track, because this is how so many other games mark this completion i.e. with a bang, but it seems every lap is a celebration here. I even found the soundtrack to be diverse and interesting, going from Dub Step to heavy rock and all genres in between to keep everyone happy.
As expected the Online Multiplayer is absolute madness and playing with other real life players, especially with the headset on, was hysterical at times when I had a good group of players or my mates who owned the game were online. With both Solo and Team modes I couldn’t go past Demolition, of course there are other fun things to do but I guess my withdrawals from Demolition Derby were too strong to resist. Race mode just isn’t quite as fun as the arena of metal on metal crunching, nor is the Gymkhana Hoonigan mode. Hoonigan especially would take a bit longer to find players than the other modes to get a match happening so I guess everyone else had the same idea as me. There is of course leveling up and money to be made to help entice you to hang around Online for a while, but I found myself becoming a bit bored and would only usually limit myself to about an hour at a time so I didn’t burn out. But this is the kind of game where this is acceptable.
The Car variety is quite good with the handling on all cars being even better than I remember in any other Dirt game being and I thought that it was pretty great already. Pulling in and out of drift is just so easy to master and I enjoyed it here more than most other car racing games. I have always considered Dirt and Colin McRae before it to be the best rally games on the market but now it has entered into a whole new arena, literally it thrives.
The good seems to outweigh the bad here quite easily and I think the main culprit for negativity should be cast to the lack of Modes and challenges in the Stages. I kept thinking and hoping they would throw in some new ones on the next stage, but that hope was gone once finishing the next and then the next. There is not too much competition in this Destruction Derby genre and I was thankful that Codemasters put their foot forward into the arena so I could experience their racing expertise applied to a new model, next time I want that foot to be their best foot though.
For the final score and more, go to Maceman Reviews