Colin McRae: DiRT

Remember when you were a child? Remember going to the playground and going down the slide? Do you recall how fun it was to slide? It can be agreed that sliding is way more fun than gently turning around a corner like you were in a car advertisement – especially when you're in a highly tuned rally car. Colin McRae: DiRT is not just a challenging game - it is a deep grasp on the soul of racing. As soon as the timer begins and you roll forward past the starting station you conceal yourself within a carbon-fiber cage and give every single strand of concentration you have into your driving. Welcome to Colin McRae: DiRT

It’s just you, the car, the co-driver, and the road. There are no rival vehicles to distract you from your driving, no loud sounds as you successfully drift around a corner - just a clock to challenge you. Think about that for a second; your greatest rival is time itself. This one enemy will challenge you, it will harden you into a god of rally. The trees will become nothing but the past, corners will be a joyful adventure, and the only time you lose control is when you hit a jump. You will enjoy this game.

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DiRT feels more like an entirely new game and not just a rushed sequel. The vehicles feel perfect as they all have their own personality and attitude. Some will love you and try their hardest to protect you; the cars with stiffer suspension, smaller engines, and a roll cage that could take a hit from a falling skyscraper. Then there are cars that will emit sounds of rage as you tame your vehicle through the gears and past the corners – they will fight you every step of the way. The roads will also be a fantastic sensation to behold.

The tracks in DiRT are all excellent representations of the country that they reside in. Spain will have you galloping alongside the Mediterranean, England will have you battle through the fog, and the USA will dry up all confidence you have as a driver with its hairpins and steep cliffs. All the tracks have been designed to provide a continuous flow. The flow of the tracks will provide a challenge if necessary but if you are still a fresh player you can be confident that you can take the corners at your own pace and still complete the race with a decent time.

The varying levels of difficulty range from 'easy-as-pie' right through to 'just broke your controller on the wall'. The higher you set the bar for yourself the more you get rewarded. The amount of cash you earn for completing each race is determined by the level of difficulty – another feature that lets the player go at their own pace. In saying that, it is a huge leap to go from the 'Amateur' level to the 'Pro-Amateur' level. If the races are simply getting too hard, the player can change the level of difficulty at the start of each 'block' on the tier that they enter.

DiRT runs on a basic tier system that makes it easy for players to mark out how far they have progressed. With the tier system you start out on the bottom level of a pyramid. With each stage that you complete you get further and further to the top of the pyramid. This is also a good way of setting goals or judging where to change difficulty levels. If the player gets a bit bored from racing against a set clock they can try out DiRT's online multiplayer.

Multiplayer is not what it should be in Colin McRae: DiRT. Instead of racing against visible players you race against the players’ time. You can see a minuscule mark of where the players are in terms of your position but they are not visible on the track. There is also no use for the Xbox Live Headset – instead players use a set list of text phrases that can be used only in the lobby. In the lobby players vote for what track and vehicle set they want to do next, which can get frustrating at times. The advantage of the online multiplayer in DiRT is that it can be played with the slowest speed of internet and still work fine. It can also allow for up to ONE HUNDRED players to race against each other at once...or at least against each others’ times.

If you are a true racing fan then Colin McRae: DiRT will be a perfect title to whittle away the winter nights. Players who are new to racing may be a bit confused and frustrated with the driving style required to play this game but it doesn't take too much time to adjust to the over steering of the vehicles. Speaking of vehicles: there is a vast range. From freight liners to Russian troop transports as well as your typical range of speedy cars and trucks, DiRT will surprise you with its variety. It’s a fun game, a great success in the Colin McRae series, and a fantastic display of adrenaline-pumping racing. This... is pure rally.

"Trees are my nemesis!"
- Colin McRae: DIRT
Follow Own it? Rating: PG   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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