©2009 Arthur Kotsopoulos
It’s been a frantic last couple of months for racing fans on the Xbox 360, with great racing titles such as Race Pro, NFS: Shift, Forza 3 and also Codemaster’s Colin McRae: Dirt 2.
The sequel to first iteration, Colin McRae: DiRT, which was released back in 2007, Colin McRae: Dirt 2 features the same great formula of DiRT yet expands even further on it with new features such as race types/styles, a brand new menu layout and a whole new scheme of interactivity in how the game plays throughout the Career Mode.
This time around Colin McRae: DiRT 2 follows the more mainstream circuit style as visually represented by the easy to navigate menu layout accessed from within your own personal Racing Motorhome.
• Colin McRae DiRT 2 Video
Everything from game options, achievement tracking, to all the various race events are all neatly spread around your character’s caravan in different locations which actually makes sense.
All the information regarding your vehicles, the upgrades and unlockable liveries reside outside the caravan in your own pit area, where the crowd of savvy fans are messing about behind the barricades.
At first I sat and thought I had seen this all before and it reminded me a lot of Need For Speed: Pro Street and how the racing scene was portrayed in that game.
Design your very own tats- or is that tarts… – whoohoo
Colin McRae: Dirt 2, however, takes the scenes of Pro Street and the menu layout of Grid and combines it into one, which strangely enough works very well and is a breath of fresh air in the genre.
All the menu layouts aside, I’m sure you are all wondering how the game actually plays in relation to the previous Colin McRae: DiRT, and from my point of view I’m sort of sitting on the fence with this one. I purchased and played Colin McRae: DiRT on the PC back in 07 when it was released and loved it.
The cars felt like they had weight to them, damage was superb and it didn’t feel as if any car was just going from start to finish like it was on ice.
With Dirt 2 however, especially in the 1st tier of races, I felt somewhat cautious to really let go and ‘gun’ it around corners, or have any sense of speed. This was due mainly to my car almost instantaneously spinning out the moment I drove into that area.
This resulted in some frustrating moments especially when I had used up my single Flashback already in a previous lap. It left me wondering if I had just had a memory blank and that Colin McRae: DiRT actually handled the same way. So I set about asking several fellow gamers who had recently played Colin McRae: Dirt 2.
Their responses were that it actually felt great to play, that the cars had a sense of weight to them and they had no trouble with any cars spinning out on almost every corner. So I took these answers with me into my next playthrough, thinking that maybe once I hit the faster cars and different races, it would change.
To my surprise it did! Money is of course required to progress, and it is extremely easy to build up a large amount of it. Especially when hitting the later stages of races in places such as London, Baja, Morocco, Croatia, and Malaysia.
This all helps you upgrade the various cars you gain or buy during the course of the game. It wasn’t until I hit the better cars that I felt like they had some weight to them.
I felt that racing became more fun and challenging and it’s where the game picked up and became a lot more fun, reminding me how enjoyable and different DiRT was back in 2007.
The sequel holds up its end of the bargain as well, which surprised me, seeing as how many sequels over the recent years don’t seem to do as well as their predecessors.
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 features a whole flurry of new race mode, such as Gatecrasher which sees you smashing small yellow polystyrene foam panels laid out on the track to accumulate more time to reach the finish line, the Raid events which put your trucks against fellow AI trucks.
Then there’s Land Raid, which is where you get to throw both your Baja Buggies and Raid Trucks around in an off-road racing environment.
It’s good to see some new race types and it definitely helps to accommodate the various tracks and scenery that are in Colin McRae: Dirt 2, many of which weren’t as present in Colin McRae: DiRT, but for me, it felt like something was missing.
Not only does Coln McRae: DiRT 2 not feature any Hill Climb events, I was a bit worried to see there weren’t as many Checkpoint races as I had expected.
I’m not a massive fan of Rally, nor do I watch every WRC event, but I know that checkpoint races are a dominant event in the rally scene and for it to not be as featured in Dirt 2 saddens me a bit.
It doesn’t ruin the game though, it just lowers my expectations of Colin McRae: Dirt 2 being the rally racer.
But nonetheless, it still is a good racer. The graphics department has had a nice update to the new more powerful Ego Engine, the environments and car models looks better than they ever have, with several of the damage features being carried over from Codemaster’s Race Driver: Grid, which is another good thing actually, because they work really well in the rally scene.
Some other nice new features which have been added is the ability to become friends with your fellow ‘real life rally racers’ within the game – [Ed: Now ain't that just cosy]. Such as Ken Block and Dave Mirra to name a c0uple. The more you race with them the more they throw across some friendly banter during races until ultimately wanting to become your “Life Long Friend”.
It’s a nice initiative but for me it wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have expected seeing as no matter how aggro I was in races, smashing, bumping and nudging, they will NEVER stop being your friend. So there is no real incentive to drive fast and carefully in every races to ensure the win- instead you can crash, smash and barge your way through each race.
• Ken Block gets all sideways at El Toro Gyhmkana
This detracts from the overall career experience as there is no real penalty to your actions, but in Multiplayer- well that’s a different story. Colin McRae: DiRT only featured a multiplayer in the way of limited Time Trials, which was one of the games main negatives with fans, but in Dirt 2 all that has been rectified big time.
A fully fledged multiplayer option is now built into the game in which you can race up to 7 others on any track in any race type available in the game, which is always a blessing in any racing game.
Here is where you can do all the dirty driving you want and the only consequence is the negative opinion of your fellow racers and being known as the dirty cheat. But then the game is called Dirt….
©2009 Arthur Kotsopoulos
“Average press score according to TestFreaks: 6.9/10″
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