Perhaps no single video game genre offers as many variants as the humble racing game. From hopping and sliding around corners in Mario Kart 7 to the exacting real-world courses and strategies of Forza Motorsport 4, there is something for nearly everyone. Why, then, has it been so long since a racing game offered the simple joy of massive automotive destruction?

That dry spell ends this May with the release of DiRT Showdown, the latest entry in Codemasters’ long-running, critically acclaimed line of racing games.

Unlike the rally focus of DiRT 3 or the street and circuit racing of GRID, DiRT Showdown is all about arcade action, pick up and play controls, and what Codemasters is referring to as “full-impact, destruction-focused racing.” Players will have three broad categories of events to take part in: Racing, Destruction Derby, and Hoonigan.

Check out the details, straight from the press release.

  • NO HOLDS BARRED RACING EVENTS: Trade paint and use nitrous to speed past rivals in DiRT Showdown’s range of racing modes. Courses are littered with obstacles, pinch points, multiple-routes and ramps to deliver adrenaline fueled racing across spectacular courses.
  • BONE CRUNCHING DEMOLITION DERBY EVENTS:  Players will crash, smash and bash their way through a range of demolition derby themed events which pushes the EGO-powered damage engine to its spectacular limits.
  • EDGE OF CONTROL HOONIGAN EVENTS: A new accessible handling system lets players let loose in free-roaming, freestyle stunt parks. Compounds flooded with obstacles play host to a range of new challenges, from performing trick runs to competitive stunt events, explorations challenges and more.

Marvel at the beautiful, beautiful destruction in DiRT Showdown’s first gameplay trailer. It may be a work in progress, but the game is looking good!

Screenshots from the trailer show off just how detailed the game’s vehicles and landscapes really are. Codemasters boasts that DiRT Showdown features “gaming’s most advanced damage engine,” and looking at these shots, it’s easy to believe.

DiRT Showdown Crash and Burn Trailer Screenshot 1

Codemasters is clearly hoping to reach new players with DiRT Showdown, and to that end the game will be packed with multiple ways to play. In addition to working through championships in order to make it to the Showdown finale, players will be able to compete in eight-player online races and a selection of party games that will be available both online and in split-screen. Asynchronous multiplayer is also on tap in the form of Showdown Challenges, which can be issued to friends and foes alike, whether or not they are online at the time.

Meanwhile, players who just want to relish the carnage of a particularly gruesome crash will have that option, thanks to Showdown’s Crashback! feature. Crashback! replays the destruction from a variety of camera angels, and offers players the opportunity to upload clips to YouTube.

It’s shaping up to be another highly competitive year for the racing genre. Slightly Mad Studios has both the upcoming Test Drive: Ferrari and the Wii U bound World of Cars on the way, while fellow purveyor of automotive excess Criterion Games is teasing a big announcement that is widely expected to be the new Need for Speed game (though this writer dearly wishes it was a new Burnout).

Will DiRT Showdown’s emphasis on destruction and accessibility be enough to send it to the front of the pack? What do you think?

DiRT Showdown releases May, 2012, for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

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