DiRT 3 Xbox 360 Review

June 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Codemasters – Developer – Codemasters – Genre – Racing – Players – 1-8 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

Fans of the Colin McRae Rally series may not have been ecstatic when their rallying series was replaced with a game that expanded into other events, taking the Colin McRae name into uncharted, but still very muddy, territory. The rallying, once the only event, became less of an occurrence, but at least with DiRT 3 (the first game to drop the Colin McRae name) Codemasters has worked to get more rally content in there.

Still, if you’re looking for a pure rallying game this isn’t it (there’s only four different rally locations, for example). DiRT 3 is still a game that doesn’t just stay faithful to one single off-road racing event, and here, along with the rallying, you’ll find it having affairs with Rally Cross, Trailblazer, Land Rush and more. But events such as Domination and Last Man Standing have been axed, and in their place we have the excellent Gymkhana events.

You can now upload replays to YouTube, although it's more limited than it could have been.

Gymkhana is the sort of event for the show offs out there – driving a car through and around obstacles, doing donuts around objects, spinning, drifting, jumping and more. Gymkhana, as you can imagine, is points based and the more motor moves you pull off and string together, the more points you’ll get for being such a show off – okay, to put it nicer, a skilful show off. It’s a mode that does take some getting used to, but it will be one that a certain player will return to time and time again in order to perfect their runs.

Presentation is once again a strong point, but it has been toned down in comparison to the rather loud, American style appearance of the previous game. The overall look has also been simplified, meaning you won’t be going in and out of a trailer, but it’s still all beautifully presented.

It’s when out on the track that DiRT 3 shows itself to be a bundle of fun and just about as satisfying and responsive as throwing a vehicle around a track can be. Vehicle handling is once again a mixture of fun and realism, with the emphasis being on the fun, and it’s possible to tinker with various options to make the game work for you. Driving assists can help you out if you want them, but even with them turned off, the game isn’t terribly unforgiving by any means, but you will feel the difference as the wheels go over different terrains, and with new weather conditions such as rain and snow to contend with, you’ll need to adapt and perhaps make use of the returning Flashback feature to rectify everything from a simple spinout to a major, race ending crash.

The World Tour is once again a fairly sizeable mode, although some key changes have been made. There’s a good range of vehicles for each discipline, for example, although you’ll no longer be splashing cash down to own them, with unlocks happening through progression instead. You also have a driver reputation level which increases as you earn success, and the less Flashbacks you make use of, as well as meeting team objectives and crossing the line in glorious finishing positions, will contribute to this ever increasing level, unlocking new vehicles and teams as the number rises. Of course, you can always come back to races later if things don’t go your way; such is the nonlinearity of the mode.

There's a nice selection of vehicles, some of which date back to the 1960's.

The game also has impressive multiplayer options, with both online and new two player split screen being possibilities. Whichever mode you play, you’ll find all the options from the single player, while playing online is smooth and seamless with the rest of the game. The split screen does lose a fair bit of detail, but it does remain fast and fun at all times. I still think it’s a shame that it isn’t possible to take it in turns in rally events in local multiplayer, something which was very much an option in Codemasters older rally games. At least we are treated to three fun party modes online and off, which involve running down cardboard robots, avoiding being infected by an unhealthy green car, and a variation on capture the Flag.

Visually, DiRT 3 is once again striking to the extreme. Weather conditions such as rain and snow look authentic and sunlight is startlingly realistic, giving off a warm glow that burns brightly through the environments, while vehicles and their damage are hugely detailed. All in all, DiRT 3 is a game that really showcases what this generation is capable of as well as providing proof that Codemasters are true masters of their craft.

DiRT 3 is, much like the previous two games in the series, Codemasters on truly top form. The variation in events will please many, while the addition of more rally content is certain to be welcome to those who thought that Codemasters were about to abandon it entirely. This is a game that handles well, looks beautiful, and is one of the best racing titles that money can buy.