Dirt 3 Review

DiRT 3
Image by Dekuwa via Flickr

I’m a fan of codemasters games generally, and I love rally, so you would think that Dirt 3 would end up being my favourite game. It is a very good game, but it just never reaches the level of brilliance that I was hoping for.

There is a lot more rally content in this game than there was in Dirt 2 which is a great thing. There are many different types of cars from different eras of rallying too which is also hard to fault.

The graphics are good, the cars look and sound great especially from the interior viewpoint and even the co-driver’s pace notes sound good. Much better than the official WRC game that’s for sure.

The game has a lot of content, but I feel that in terms of locations, it spreads itself possibly a bit too thin. Once you’ve gone through all of the events in the Dirt Tour, you’ll be absolutely tired of playing the same stages over and over, just with different cars.

This problem was compounded by the fact that many of the individual stages in a rally location felt stitched together using stage parts, and so most of the stages don’t feel very unique. This was a big problem in the official WRC game as well but you would expect better from Codemasters.

It seems strange to say but there’s just something about the game that stops it from going from very good to amazing in my eyes. The DLC doesn’t help either. I bought all of it, in large part because I like the company and want to support them, so I suppose I knew what I was getting myself into. DLC in this game, like many others just never feels worth the money you’re paying. The cars you can download, like songs in Rockband, unless you play with them endlessly, you’ll struggle to feel like you got your money’s worth.

The Monte Carlo track pack was solid but as with the other rally locations, once you’ve played a couple, you feel like you’ve seen it all and once you’ve gone through the events in Dirt Tour that use those stages, you’ll feel like you want your £6 back.

The other modes aside from rally: trailblazer, rallycross, land rush and gymkhana are all good, but I don’t think they’ll be the main event for many people who pick the game up. Trailblazer is intense because of how fast the cars are and the fact that you don’t get pace notes, so you have to try to glance at the map as you’re hurtling through the fast stages.

Rallycross is fun but a lot of the time, the car handling feels too twitchy and floaty. It didn’t feel that realistic a lot of the time, and that was a bit disappointing. Gymkhana is my least favourite event and in some ways it does feel a bit of a tacked on gimmick. It does provide interesting and unique gameplay, but it can also be frustrating when you’re struggling to make some of the stunts when you first start or when you’re just not in the groove. Land rush is essentially just rallycross but with trucks and buggies, which have different handling mechanics and bounce far more over the terrain.

The online aspect of the game does work well, and you’d expect this from Codemasters who probably do the best online driving games of anyone. The thing that puts me off this time though is the fact that when you start a rally stage, everyone starts at exactly the same time and so you can see all of the ghosts of other players around you constantly, which is extremely off-putting. I don’t see why they didn’t just leave it alone and keep using the stuttered start method, which is true to rallying anyway. I doubt people would have complained if 10 second delayed starts were kept from Dirt 2.

Overall, I think it’s a great Rally game but I’m left with the feeling that they could have done more. The fact that I’m still playing and enjoying GT5 so long after release should go to show other developers out there how to treat their players. Free DLC, or in GT5’s case, weekly challenges give people incentive to keep their disc and not trade it in, and after all, that’s one of the main reasons why DLC exists in the first place.

I guess if you’re looking for a rally game, then it’s a good choice and has little competition. I just hope that with Dirt 4 they really focus on creating a larger number of diverse environments to stop it feeling quite as repetitive.


WRC 2010 Season Thoughts and Rallying in General

Sébastien Loeb driving his Citroën C4 WRC at t...
Image via Wikipedia

After I did this for Nascar, I thought I should for WRC as well, as I’m an even bigger fan of this sport. When I was younger I remember watching Rallying on TV and seeing people like Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz doing incredible things for teams such as Toyota and Subaru. Unfortunately, those great brands and others like Mitsubishi don’t appear in the main WRC series at the current time due to the economy, but I hope this changes soon. This upcoming season does see the return of Mini, with their new Countryman car. Hopefully the other big names of the past decide to come back soon too, as there are not enough WRC cars competing at the moment in my opinion.

While those manufacturers are still missing, I’m back watching after many years of letting the sport pass me by. The 2010 season I watched entirely on the review DVD and it was really great to see the incredible driving skills of these competitors. It was almost the perfect season for Loeb, who cruised to victory in his native French Rally. The event even finished by driving a special stage around his home town. It couldn’t have been a more perfect way for him to capture his 7th world title.

Mikko Hirvonen however had an absolute season to forget after coming within a point of glory in 2009. He won the opening round in Sweden but that was as good as it got for him. He quickly relinquished the lead to Loeb in the second event after a 4th place, and Sebastien and Citroen never looked back. He just seemed to either have trouble getting up to speed in events, or experienced some kind of car mechanical failure that took him out of contention. It ended up being his team-mate and “number 2 driver” Yari-Matti Latvala who somewhat ironically ended up in the runner-up spot for the season over his more experienced and favoured team-mate.

I think it was a great season of a great sport with arguably the best drivers in the world, especially Sebastien Loeb who is undoubtedly the best rally driver ever in my opionion, and maybe one of the best drivers in the world generally. Not too many people would disagree with either of those points. I just feel that because rally drivers have more adjustments to make, different surfaces to drive on and stages to learn, they have a harder time of it than F1 and other circuit racing drivers do.

In 2011 I’m excited to see how the new, smaller cars work and how well the drivers adapt to them. It will also be interesting to find out if the Citroen DS3 WRC can follow the untouchable C4 in being as competitive of a rally car. It’s going to be hard for them to dominate as they have done even with Loeb behind the wheel however. These regulation changes give Ford a perfect opportunity to close the gap to the French team. How will Mini do in their first season back and can Kimi Raikkonen and Ken Block improve on their troubled but promosing WRC debut seasons. I’m excited to find out when Rally Sweden starts on the 10th of February.