Game Rant’s William Case reviews DiRT 3
Rather than sticking to the tarmac or the over-driven asphalt, Codemasters has always stayed true to the off-road sport in their series.
Why settle for bank turns or a straightaway, when you have nature making the course for you? Keeping true to their origins, DiRT 3 is the best in the franchise’s history: but not without some tragically annoying costs that cause enough bumps during campaign play to make for a long ride.
In DiRT 3 players set-out to achieve three fundamental goals: race, win, and repeat. Doing any of these has never been more challenging or as gratifying – flying down the back roads in Monaco, rain on your face, while slipping on mud (and God knows what else). Precision and concentration are the name of the game as the driving mechanics are near perfection. With tuning options once again returning, you’ll need every bit of customization to plow through rain, snow, sleet, or dry and cracked terrain.
The level of precision that DiRT 3 shows off is only doubled by the quality of the graphics. Driving around in Kenya, Finland, Monaco, Norway, Los Angles, or Michigan – each track has been meticulously deigned and sculpted, giving you the impression that you’re really behind the wheel of a Suzuki SX4. What’s more, remember all of those instances of bad weather? It’s not just for show: playing without your lights or wipers could spell instant disaster and force you to restart a race. Codemasters did a fantastic job of utilizing weather conditions as an integral factor of a race – and not just for cosmetics.
Though, speaking to both failing and your wheels, DiRT 3 harbors an impressive 50 vehicle selection, including rally cars from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even a few semi-trucks for discipline-related challenges (more on that later on). Players earn new vehicles by finishing races and leveling up – rather than purchasing them, gamers will have the chance to stay busy between the main tours and new discipline-specific tours.
Fans of the series will already be acquainted with the main tours – and will be able to earn their wings, feel out the controls, and gather a fair collection of cars just from the initial standing. The Discipline’s however, hold races to test your ability to win under harsh weather conditions, tight banking, bad lighting – and will even give you heavy time-trials once all is said and done (multiplying replay value).
That is, if you can get over the announcers. Potentially the biggest drawback, the biggest complaint, and the biggest pitfall to otherwise a superb title is the talking boxes that refuse to be silent. Ushering in every race with a minimum five-minute introduction of what it is, how you will complete it, and who is in it, the announcements are there to fill your time. Unlocking new tracks or cars, racing well (or anything in between) causes a video to pop up – with voices that will tell you what you already surmised.
That said, career play is only half the fun, and Codemastes has created something wholly different and unique in the driving universe that is, in a word, fantastic. Gymkhana is essentially a multiplayer variant, that’s turned on its head. Putting most drivers on an even footing, the challenges are based on concepts you would normally see in a first-person shooter: capture the flag, cat-and-mouse (a form of tag mixed with oddball), and a few others.
Each challenge in Gymkhana is fast-paced, neck-to-neck, and profanity ridden with enjoyment. It’s a fantastic way to earn some experience to help level up – and give you a break from a harrowing time-trial or race that is causing you some frustration. Of course, don’t worry if objective-styled gameplay doesn’t make your mark: standard multiplayer is still there to allow you to go-up against others on your favorite tracks, or to have your friend sit sidesaddle as your Trailblazer – telling you which way to go.
Perhaps one of the less needed pieces of the puzzle (but wouldn’t hurt to have) is furthering the YouTube feature included in the game. Whenever a player finishes a race or does something “spectacular” (such as complete a flawless run), the fan manager will ask you if you want to upload a video of your run to a YouTube account. The problem is, there is a 30-second upload limit, capturing almost nothing worth bragging about, save for maybe a split-second win, a fatal crash that was entertaining, or some other tomfoolery.
All in all DiRT 3 is an amazing piece of work, despite the horrendous (and inescapable) announcers. With new levels of precision, creativity, ingenuity, as well as simple fun, Codemasters has done an amazing job of making sure that die0hard fans of the series as well as newcomers will have something to brag about.
DiRT 3 is currently out now for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.