Dirt 2

21 09 2009

I loved the original Dirt and while the sequel is solid it comes just short of perfection due to an unfulfilling career mode and to much focus taken off point to point rally. More times than not it seems I’m in awe of the visuals in these short reviews but it must be said: Dirt2 looks really sharp. The variety between tracks and during the tracks themselves is much improved over the original. Towns, set pieces, atmospheric effects, and water really keep the tracks interesting. Instant replay can always be found in racing games but the quality of camera work in Dirt 2 is extremely impressive; often surpassing that found in real world events. I particularly enjoyed the low bobbing chase camera and the overhead helicopter shots. The menu’s and their accompanying transitions are both techinally and artistically satisfying.

Controls are a little less forgiving than I remember and it took me a while to get the hang of things. I found myself using the regular break almost exclusively over the handbrake which was the opposite from the original. The actual races themselves are a lot of fun with some solid AI opponents. In the original point to point rally races were the focus of the game with buggy, truck, and lap tracks offering a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, Dirt 2 has brought these to the forefront making Dirt 2 more of an offroad racer rather than a rally racer. The awkward handling makes these game types much less interesting. What rally races are there almost make up for this with the speed and narrowness I came to love in the original.

I found it extremely odd that every single vehicle can be purchased right from the beginning. This really killed all sense of progression for me as I simply bought the WRX and was done. You’ll gain XP with rank ups awarding random car skins but since there’s a good chance you won’t have most of the vehicles it feels odd. Progression is really important and this is Dirt 2’s main problem. Cars should have been unlocked as the player ranked up with car skins having to be bought with money. An atmosphere of a young driver traveling across the world in an RV going to the XGames with Travis Pastrana is a really cool concept that really needs to be fleshed out more. As it stands you’ll only hear the other drivers make comments here and there without them ever showing up. I’m not expecting some great racing story but there is a lot more potential here to delve into the lifestyle of these young adventure seekers (Nitro Circus realm). As it stands Dirt 2’s career mode felt more like a collection of instant action races rather than a true career.

The Flashback mechanic has made it’s way from Grid and is a welcome addition in removing any frustration from that 1 bad turn, or 3, that made you restart the event in Dirt. You can also become friends with seemingly all of the drivers in the game, which is needed for team races, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the mechanic. It pains me not to give a 95 or a 100 rating for this game as the core mechanics and polish are really there. As I moved from race to race I kept wishing that the career mode was just more engaging.

score: 85% | metacritic: 86

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