by: Sam Tyler
I’m old enough to remember when all this was fields and the Dirt franchise was better known as Colin MaRae Rally. I used to play these in-depth rally games on my PlayStation One and drive the lonesome road trying to be the best at time trials. I also remember a game called Destruction Derby, this game played like the anti-Colin McRae as numerous cars all pounded each other in enclosed environments. Fast forward to 2012 and the newest game in the Dirt series, Dirt Showdown, has forgone any pretence of rallying, in favour of the Destruction of yore. Has the series sold out, or gained a new fan base?
One of the sticking points I have with any racing game is that the experience becomes very samey, very quickly. Despite having several game modes including; racing, last man standing, capture the flag etc. this is the fate that befalls Showdown. As a solo experience you must tackle several events hoping to get in the top three, this will then unlock more events. This process continues throughout the game until you have unlocked everything, or given up. Each new level provides a greater challenge, but no new gameplay. Once you have clocked up 4 hours or so in the single player you are unlikely to want to go back for more.
You say convoy, I say truck
This is a shame as the mechanics are very solid. Codemasters have long been masters of the racing art and the physics, weight and damage works well in Showdown. What is worrying is that the intelligence shown beneath the hood of the game is not seen in the actual gameplay. There is fun to be had T-Boning another car, but how many times? The races, fights, capture the flag game modes all descend into the same frantic style of playing – avoid others if you can.
It is with the online play where the game truly opens up; each player is fallible as the next. There are traditional multiplayer missions available that take the single player game experiences online, but it is the team combat that offers something new. Having 4 blue team cars and 4 red team cars hurtling around an enclosed space is great fun. Tactics naturally come into play as some players look to shepherd enemy cars, others to take them out. It is the online mode that keeps me coming back to Dirt Showdown, long after the single player experience has run its course. With ideas cribbed from a PS1 game, Showdown was never going to break new ground; but this does not stop it from being fun.
Editor's Note: This review is based on the 360 version of Dirt: Showdown.
Rating: 3 out of 5