Not being one unfamiliar to the world of rally and the glory days of Group B rally racing, I jumped to get the first crack at the latest game covering almost everything that goes fast on mud, dirt, and sand – DiRT 2.
Let me start by saying graphically DiRT 2 looks amazing. The details in the course are great and even speeding down a narrow dusty road you can still take a quick glance and see something they didn’t really have to add in to the background but did anyway to complete the real experience.
The first installment in the DiRT series followed the path of a traditional rally racing game with a few added features and boasting the fancy graphics of the “Next-Gen” Xbox 360; DiRT 2 boasts the abovementioned detailed graphics but really switches it up in the rally genre by updating the occasionally stale off-road racing with more of today’s modern rally racing. Updating a tried and true racing style is usually grounds for groans and failure, but DiRT 2 manages to pulls it off very well, breathing life into a tired game genre while managing some elements to keep those purists happy.
Rally Cross is one of the more interesting events. At times it can feel a little more like a demolition derby than Rally.
Where DiRT 2 mixes it up is in the variety of events. From your good ol’ fashion timed racing with co-driver, to rally cross racing, and not forgetting Baja trophy truck / buggy racing, with some other quirky events along the way. Along with all these new and unfamiliar styles of events there are some personal throw downs by some Rally America racers such as Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, Tanner Faust, and Dave Mirra. These drivers, among others, will pop up in various races covering most disciplines of racing throughout the game and during the race will throw out the occasional taunt and even bicker between each other while you try your best to match their skills. Did I mention you get experience from each event? This all adds to your level and as you move up each level you unlock new events, liveries, challenges, and locations.
Where this game truly shines is that anyone can pick up and play this game with little previous racing game experience (a few races to get used to the whole counter-steer thing). While that is usually the cue to the more serious racers to take a pass, don’t stop reading yet! Those that want to be challenged; Codemasters has some stuff in here for you. DiRT 2 has six levels of difficulty to choose from with each higher level making it harder but also adding a bigger cash bonus for winning and the number of flashbacks. Flashbacks are an interesting feature to rewind that huge mistake you just made, allowing you to do it over again. This feature can be a serious life saver when you take a drift head on in to a tree and total your car. If you don’t like the way the car handles in stock form you can adjust your cars settings and even save several preset settings. Want your co-driver to be more technical with their directions? You can adjust that too. All these options make your virtual rally career a fun one as you go from event to event all over the world.
DiRT 2 offers various types of terrain to race on from the deserts of Africa, to the rich jungles of South East Asia, and some trail blazing with trophy trucks in Europe.
While the game is great and a significant improvement over the first DiRT game, it is fairly limited in the selection of vehicles. While you can adjust your favorite Subaru rally car to race in a few disciplines for a small fee, you are fairly limited to the cars you can buy to pretty much two styles of Mitsubishi Evo, two styles Subaru STI and three cars that feel like they belong more in a drifting event than off-road, and you can’t forget the tribute Colin McRae prototype car. The same goes for the stock Baja and trophy trucks. Some of the trucks have the exact same stats but merely look different and cost slightly more. One of my biggest issues with DiRT 2 is a lack of local multiplayer, which appears to be a slowly disappearing option in racing games. While they do give you the option of a system link and several Xbox live options (a big improvement over the original DiRT game), it would seem it was far too hard to add the option of turning on a controller and racing your buddy face to face.
It doesn’t take long before your car is covered in dust and mud. Nothing that a huge puddle can’t solve!
While these short comings are fairly minor compared to what the DiRT 2 offers, this game will keep you busy for quite a while with the long list of events in the solo career mode and racing on Xbox live. Although, I’m still left wondering how they got Baja but forgot the dirt bikes and ATVs. With the current changes to the game it is clear they are breaking out of the traditional rally box and redefining what a rally racing video game can be. Overall DiRT 2 is a welcome addition to my game collection, with its eye catching graphics and very detailed crash damage. Plus you have to admit that hitting the instant replay as you do a barrel roll off a hill is pretty awesome.
MSRP (Xbox360): $59.99
ESRB Rating: Teen
Format: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS
Release Date: September 8, 2009