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E (Everyone)



July 6, 2007



- The only next-gen rally game!

- Great variety of cars, race types, and terrain

- Difficulty settings mean a challenge for experts and an enjoyable time for casual racers

- The thumpy techno music that accompanies the main menu is a little too catchy (I can't get it out of my head!)



- Playing with a regular gamepad just doesn't feel right

- Not being able to cut corners is a bitch!

- I would have loved more robust options when it came to the replay



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Score: 8.5 / 10


The front end of Dirt is like the home version of a Microsoft E3 press conference.  The thumping, upbeat, techno bass and the floating, layered diagrams to navigate the menus makes it feel a lot like Jeff Bell is going to leap out from behind your TV.  That said, the experience is not scary.


dirt          dirt


More importantly, Dirt – the erstwhile son of the old Colin McRae series of rally racing games – presents a great racing game, with adjustable difficulty levels, a great roster of licensed cars, and so much more than just standard rally racing, though they play an important part in the overall game.


The biggest challenge for me with Dirt was treating the experience with a bit more seriousness – this isn’t the cartoony revving of Burnout – so careful driving




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and listening to the instructions of your navigator are key to avoiding clipping roadside objects or, worse, completely crumpling your car.  The adjustable difficulty helps quite a bit for the non-hardcore crowd (i.e. me) so if you’re stymied on a race, dialing it back a notch or two can make for a less realistic experience but one where races can actually be won.


The “penalty” for playing at a lower difficulty is lower prize amounts, which means a difficult climb if you want to save up to buy the better cars.


If you’re connected to Live, your stats are automatically uploaded then show where you place in the world wide rankings.  That part can actually be damn depressing.  With a good car and lots of practice, I could attain some very good times, but when it came time for the comparison, most of the best players eclipsed my very best by a minute or more, which is pretty much an eternity in rally racing.


dirt          dirt


Online racing feels a lot like you’re racing by yourself.  As you pass the checkpoints, the time comparison comes up in the right corner and that’s about all the contact your have with your opponents.  The upside is that the racing is just as smooth as if you were playing by yourself.


Something that most racing games have benefited from when it comes to next-gen technology are the refined physics engines powering them and Dirt is a great example of this.  Cars crumple with a great deal of satisfaction and the different feel of various driving surfaces – the races take place all over the globe – feel closer to reality than they ever have before.  This is wrapped inside a great looking game as well, so there are beauty and brains at work here.


Rally fans should have already grabbed this, but I’d even go as far as to challenge non-racing fans to take Dirt for a spin – the challenge of trying to master any given stretch of beautiful road is made compelling enough to try again and again.


- Omni

(September 13, 2007)


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