Colin McRae: DIRT Review (Xbox360)

The Xbox 360 has not been privy to too many good racing games. With only a few exceptions, the best racing games were due out in the future. Ever since MotorStorm for the PS3 was released, nothing has been able to touch it.

Codemasters saw this and it was not good. Codemasters released their own racing game. Then came DiRT. As this reviewer notes, DiRT was good.

Environments this gorgeous should not be missed. Unless you can see them without a TV
Effects are almost as good as forcing other drivers off the road through the mud. Watch ‘em tumble!

“Was” is the biggest problem with DiRT, however. A stunning game with an abundant amount of single player gameplay that is more than excellent sadly has extremely poor multiplayer. Non-existent is the closest term, though it really is there. More on that later.

A flaw with DiRT is that the loading times are very long. At first glance, this would be a problem. But when the track loads and you drive through several miles of terrain, all beautifully rendered and modeled, that flaw can be best friends forever.

The stunning graphics give an awesome experience while driving. Don’t get confused with the visuals and thinking that they don’t actually exist in the game. Everything is there. Trees, brush, cones, everything. Chances are that you’ll learn this the hard way.

True to its name, DiRT does a great job with effects, both on normal and dirt roads. There isn’t a moment that’s not appealing, simply to look at. Of course, looks aren’t everything. That’s why DiRT delivers.

The sheer number and different type of cars will blow you away. But they all work on specific maps only
While you won’t get style points, drifting is just as important

Driving any vehicle is smooth and not ever the same. A big truck will be hard to turn while a small car will fly in any direction. Most people playing on the 360 controller will be pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t absolutely suck for DiRT, as it generally does for racing games. Of course, using the wheel is always better.

What was striking was the sheer volume of time open to play the single player mode. A giant pyramid of races lists every possible competition to race in, many of which hold more than one race. Every type of race you can think of is probably in there, save for style-like races we all know from the PGR series.

The slick dialogue-filled menu offers something fresh to videogames as well. From useless descriptions of clearly stated instructions to reasonably interesting specs on certain car tires, having the heavenly voice rain down from your speakers has generally been pleasant, if not informative.

There’s also a list of in-race dialogue which can be amazingly helpful, if you can understand any of it. The game manual goes into detail about what the different types of turns are so that when the radio man calls them out, you don’t just look stone-faced at the TV and completely wreck the turn. The feeling of studying for school always comes to mind.

Vehicles damage, which is all too noticeable, is of little strategic importance unless it’s an engine that goes caput. Or a wheel. Running into foreign objects or other racers will rip off anything, be it hubcaps, doors…pretty much anything but the engine itself and your helmet.

This, as well as the general rally racing theme, makes DiRT one of those games that beginners just won’t fully enjoy. The easier difficulty settings leave much to be desired as earning money only really happens by playing on the harder levels. Certainly getting as many cars as possible shouldn’t have to take months when it could take days.

Back to the major concern, multiplayer. Yes, DiRT has multiplayer. What it doesn’t have is racing on the same track as someone else. No, that’s not true. You cannot race side by side someone, which means that car on car action isn’t happening. Which means that the fun of actually competing against someone doesn’t quite happen because all you really compete against is time. Which raises the question why inviting friends to play is even allowed.

If that doesn’t look realistic, please spend the next 15 minutes staring at the sun
Only the car’s sponsors aren’t blurry. Coincidence? I think not!

For what its worth, Colin McRae’s DiRT is a fabulous game that just didn’t make the cut to stardom because of its lack of capable multiplayer. The potential is certainly there, and while it certainly shoots everything else out of the water, it will be forgotten in the coming months.

Top Game Moment:
Racing against other 18 wheelers and watching each one roll more than the last after impaling them.