DiRT Showdown review
DiRT Showdown is a rambunctious racing game packing four-wheeled car-crashing destruction aplenty for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Made for thrill-seeking racing game fans with a penchant for multiplayer action and motor-mangling mayhem, DiRT Showdown is the most fun we’ve had behind the wheel this year, says Stephen Ebert.
On one end of the racing scale you’ve got your Gran Turismos and your Forza Motorsports promising the most realistic driving simulations since the wheel was chiselled by our cave-dwelling ancestors. On the other end you’ve got DiRT Showdown. Forget your your racing scrapbook and precision tuning – DiRT Showdown is all about getting on with it, in DVLA-baiting style.
A delightful variety of single player modes, jacked up with some very fun multiplayer action makes for a deceivingly well-rounded packaged that won’t exactly revolutionise the racing genre, but deliver a good old time.
Booting the game up for the first time, the menus are big and bold just like the action. It’s all a little daunting at first, but actually very approachable and in your face, in a nice way that says “play me right now!”. Your classic single player mode comprises a series of eight-car races to the finish. First past the finishing line wins, of course, but it’s DiRT Showdown’s appetite for destruction and enjoyable handling that gives the game its own personality.
Overtaking, racing in the slipstream of cars, and shunting them out of the way rewards you with nitrous boosts that you’ll need your boost to overtake other cars, so using it wisely adds that little dose of strategy. Those who’ve played the PS3-exclusive Motorstorm will notice the similarity in the drift heavy gameplay that makes steering your joyride all the more sweeter, letting you take corners like a racing looney with a death wish and a date with the Grim Reaper.
The variety of modes extend to destruction modes that pit you into a gladiator style arena akin to 90’s favourite Destruction Derby. It is very much gladiatorial combat – a beat-em-up with cars for fists where you accumulate points in three minute rounds. Prangs for points is the order of the day. The same goes for the elimination rounds where you must knock off as many cars out of a fenceless ring. Pushing cars over the edge results in a 1k point bonus, and eventual victory for the most reckless racer.
And then you’ve got the very cool gymkhana stunt course where you must perform donuts, drifts and steer past obstacles within a time limit to progress. The destruction modes are more fun, but the gymhkana bits do well to provide a brief respite from the more ‘lively’ action on offer.
And if crushing cars to bits is all you care about, head online to play the destruction modes with your petrol-head pals. Honestly – battering your real friends into bits of scrap metal over multiplayer rarely feels old. DiRT Showdown integrates leader boards brilliantly, always giving you a clear indication of who among your friends is the best. DiRT Showdown has a nice array of modes, but it’s clear developer Codemasters had multiplayer very much in mind, even letting you upload your best crashes to YouTube via in your-face shortcuts almost imploring you to do so.
Those looking for a deeper experience from their racing games are likely to find themselves wanting that little bit more. A more fleshed out career mode of sorts would have been welcome, along with a few more modes on both single and multiplayer sides.
Tracks could also display a little more variety. Some feature some nice hairpin turns, and windy intersections, but all too often the terrain is flat and need some spicing up.
The bottom line
From the moment that disc is booted up, and the first race begins, players know exactly they’re getting. DiRT Showdown does exactly as it says on its paintwork. It’s a joyous dose of, license-revoking-car-racing and wrecking fun for racing fans seeking something different.