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DiRT Showdown

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DiRT Showdown (PC) Review

DiRT Showdown (PC)

In 1998 Codemasters released Colin McRae Rally and with it started down a path which has seen them become a hugely significant player in the driving genre. As the series has evolved and moved away from the original brand to the newer "DiRT" naming we have seen the gameplay evolve significantly to the point the most recent game, DiRT 3, included some rather fun arcade game segments based on gymkhana. These served as a nice change in pace from the racing and showed that when Codemasters are not creating more serious racers, like the excellent F1 2011, they know how to have some fun.

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As mentioned above Showdown steps away from the off-road action of DiRT, the street racing of GRID or the more serious F1 franchise and carves its own niche in the Codemasters racing family. In this game we work our way towards the "Showdown Finals" taking on various styles of gameplay as we go and the game very much has a pick up and play feel. The controls are simple, the usual mix of steering with accelerate and break but we also have access to a handbrake for more advanced cornering or moves and a boost button which gives us a temporary increase in speed and therefore more powerful impacts, of which there are many.

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Doctoral Dissertation Phd Thesis Playing through the game modes it was clear that each has a very distinct feel and there are three main categories, race based, destruction based and trick based. That said there is often some overlap, encouraging us to take out opponents as we race… or twists on the standard in events like Elimination. In that mode we must stay out of last place in a race as every 15 seconds the person there is knocked out with the last man standing winning the race. Elsewhere we have events like Ram Rage and Knock Out where we are placed in an arena with various opponents. Each car has a health meter and the aim is to crash into each as much as possible, until they are wrecked at which point the health bar replenishes and the car re-enters as new. Points are awarded for more powerful moves and boost once again makes an appearance with Knock Out being based on a platform where we can also gain points for throwing other cars off. Of Mice And Men George Hero

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For anyone who has played a recent Codemasters game from the DiRT or GRID franchises Showdown has a very familiar look and feel. It is especially close in visual style to DiRT 3 even in terms of the menu structure and available camera angles. When we then move into the main gameplay the use of Codemasters EGO engine is clearly evident, though the visual style is enhanced with the designers focusing on some rather lovely lighting effects, decent destruction models and quality use of fireworks, flames and the like. Essentially we are looking at DiRT presented as an extreme sport and on the whole it works well. It is also worth noting that the game also runs well on a wide range of systems as this is a mature engine now and we noted some nice touches in the review code such as plenty of items to crash through which then scatter across the track.

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With DiRT Showdown it is clear that Codemasters want users to forget about the more serious aspects of racing and just sit down to have some fun. The graphics, particularly the use of lighting, look great. The audio suits the onscreen action and overall the gameplay is fast and frantic as it should be. It is also nice to have a game which is very much pick up and play with no need to invest hours at a time. We can drop into a game, play for a few mins and head off again having had a concentrated battle and plenty of enjoyment. Be warned though, this game is very in your face and so longer sessions can be a little draining (though not necessarily in a bad way).

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In terms of improvements it would be nice to have a few extra commentator lines, and chained destruction points would be great as we often found ourselves taking out multiple cars without the same rewards as smaller numbers but there is very little that detracts from the overall Showdown experience which is very much to the credit of Codemasters.

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Stuart Davidson

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