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DiRT 3 Game Review


by Stuart Davidson - 20th May 2011
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DiRT 3 Review

DiRT 3 (XBOX 360) Review


In the world of video game franchises there are a number of publishers and developers who consistently deliver high quality titles. Rockstar would be one, Blizzard another and in the racing game genre we have Polyphony Digital (Gran Turismo), Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham) and one other... Codemasters. Over the past 5 years or so a number of high quality games have been released under the Race Driver, Colin McRae (DiRT) and F1 brands with each offering a different take on the style of gameplay offered.


When DiRT 2 was released in 2009 it received positive reviews with this site scoring it 93/100 and praising the game for its vast range of events, vehicles and modes which were mixed with pick up and play controls. Since then Codemasters have been busy working on a follow-up and this month that hits the shelves in the form of DiRT 3.


Gameplay
The first thing which Codemasters are keen to put across is that DiRT 3 is a huge game, their biggest ever and it features double the track content of v2 with three times the rally-specific content. The best cars from the last 5 decades are included (think Group B Audi Quattro) and we start our career as a full-fledged action sports driver with a top-flight career. The aim, to increase our global standing.


The game features various race styles including straight up rally, landrush buggies and the new Gymkhana sections. These Gymkhana sections are what really separate the game from its predecessors, those games were always fun with plenty of action, crashes and smashes but this new style ramps the fun level up even higher through the requirement to perform tricks as part of the level. This of course also adds to the multiplayer experience where we can try to out trick our friends in various different environments (online or split screen) before uploading our best attempts direct to YouTube to share with the world.


For all it's fun Gymkhana actually also has a real benefit to the more standard parts of the games. When you can learn to blast over a larger jump, transition into a spin then doughnut before heading off at speed to do a sideways slide through a pipe or oversized tyre into a full 360 spin on demand, the ability to race in a more extreme manner when playing the standard level becomes easier.


It was also clear when playing that Codemasters have worked on the feel of the cars since DiRT 2 and now there is even more of a distinct style to racing as we move between forward, rear and 4 wheel drive models. In fact the designers now have 400 different aspects they can adjust based on car specifications to make each model feels slightly (or hugely) different to the next. We also noted that there is a real feel of speed when playing DiRT 3, go with the in-car view and a big TV for this game and battering round the various tracks really is an edge of the seat experience.

Overall the career and multiplayer sections of DiRT 3 are fun to play and also challenging, the variation of tracks, styles and difficulty will keep novices and DiRT veterans happy with some real laughs to be had when a few friends come round for beers and multi-player action.


Graphics and Sound
Codemasters introduced the EGO engine in the original DiRT and have been enhancing it since, hitting version 1.5 with F1 2010 and in this latest release we hit version 2.0. There were a few glitches in the preview build of DiRT 3 which is to be expected but clearly Codemasters were in the finishing straight as the review code is much more polished. Sun/light and dust/smoke effects are particularly great and overall the detail level has been bumped up since DiRT 2 with nice variation in style from track to track. This is backed by a decent soundtrack with plenty of growl from the more powerful cars.


It was also good to find that the game isn't littered with distracting non player characters, throwing nonsense comments about during gameplay in monotone or annoying voices; a problem that often impacts our enjoyment of games. In DiRT 3 everything on the audio front feels natural and well suited to the style of gaming. We also liked the colour pallet which is much more vibrant than F1, fitting the arcade style racing perfectly while still offering impressive visuals which will impress anyone who plays.


Summary
It is clear from the moment we take control of our first vehicle in DiRT 3 that the game is tuned for maximum enjoyment. The depth of Codemasters F1 franchise has its place but sometimes we just want to pick up a controller and blast through a few laps of fun filled racing. DiRT 3 delivers on that front completely with enjoyment maximised though the awesome Gymkhana stages and those who prefer more straight up thrills are also catered for by sections such as the rally stages which are an absolute blast. The graphics are as good as we have seen from Codemasters, or indeed most other racers, with a soundtrack which compliments the game rather than detracts from it.


Overall a fast, fun and massively enjoyable racer which has plenty of longevity in single player with a fun multiplayer aspect that includes nice YouTube integration.

Gameplay 91/100 Lots of fun with controls which are tuned for arcade style racing. A good difficulty curve maximises enjoyment.
Graphics 91/100 Like the gameplay the graphics have been enhanced since DiRT 2 with more variation between levels and some lovely environmental effects present.
Audio 85/100 Plenty of variation in engine noise between vehicles with lots of nice effects throughout.
Value 90/100 Loads of tracks, loads of cars and a decent multiplayer. No real complaints here.
Overall
(Not an Average)
95/100 Think DiRT 2, then bump up the graphics, add more tracks, more cars and then make it more fun... you are some way to seeing what DiRT 3 is like. One of the best games released this year and right up there as one of the best racing games of all time.

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