DiRT 3

DiRT 3 is among the top racing games of this generation.

By canana, Posted 02 Jun 2011

In the world of racing games, you have your top developers: Polyphony Digital, makers of Gran Turismo, Electronic Arts (more specifically Black Box, Criterion, etc.) with Need for Speed, and Turn 10, the developers behind Forza Motorsport. One of the outsiders, however, is Codemasters, a developer who is demonstrating power with their well-received Colin McRae/DiRT franchise, earning increasingly critical success and gaining a foothold in the hearts of racing fans.

After the great F1 2010 released last year, Codemasters immediately focused their attention to DiRT 3. Although it is not a racing style as glamorous as the others, its rally discipline appears well represented in this title. It is also the first DiRT game not to include the name of the driver, Colin McRae. The double world champion, who tragically died in 2007, holds the record for being the youngest to win the world rally championship. According to Codemasters, despite the separation between the game and the name of the pilot, the main philosophy of McRae is still present. For the athlete, running in a rally meant not thinking about the consequences and just go as fast as possible until the finish line. Establishing that as their focal point, the developer has delivered one of the best racing games of this generation.

DiRT 3, Review

One of the main aspects that deserve to be mentioned when talking about DiRT 3 is its realism. The high graphical level extends to virtually all aspects of the game and even small details that go unnoticed by many get Codemaster's attention. It starts with the main point of any racing game: vehicles. All that are featured in DiRT 3 are faithful reproductions of real cars, including the advertising, design details and internal elements.

Reflections of the environment in the bodywork are also very well done. Codemasters shows mastery in shaders by environmental effects in contact with the cars. Earth, clay and water are applied perfectly to the glass and metal elements, generating ultra-realistic effects. The tracks are also full of detail and perfectly reproduce the environments in which they are located. Rallies in Savannah, for example, is virtually impossible to see what is ahead because of the amount of dust that gets picked up, while the soot found in industrial areas blur the vision completely. Although not related to the races themselves, scenario elements are also evident in DiRT 3. Along the circuit, you can see houses, buildings and other small details that add much to the game. The emphasis is on the Taita Hills track, which is almost completely on the edge of a cliff and displays one of the most impressive visuals of the entire game.

In DiRT 3, Codemasters has a number of different ways in order to increase the variety and to maximize the full potential of the races. In addition to the traditional tests--Trailblazer or Rally modes, which take into account the total time they had spent to complete the route--there are four different types of competitions. The game also includes some reminiscent ways of the traditional races in common clues. This is evident with Rallycross and Head 2 Head, for example; plans that happen in circuits, so many hostile elements along the way without requiring accurate control of the vehicle.

The maneuver fans will really enjoy is the Gymkhana mode. Here, riders enter sort of an arena and must perform a series of actions such as run down boxes and skid at high speed in circles or totems. The more tricks are executed, the more points are accumulated and in the end, wins the best artist. The online modes also have unique game types. Outbreak shows ways in which a car is to chase and infect other vehicles; Transporter, the classic version of capture the flag and Invasion, which aims to trample robots scattered across the landscape. Although it’s entertaining, these types of races seem displaced in a game like DiRT 3, which emphasizes speed and accuracy. The variety is also present in the choice of cars. DiRT 3 does not present a menu as big as the vehicles of Gran Turismo 5, but uses different cars for each type of event. Therefore, it is possible to drive along the winding trails using buggies, trucks, tractors, and even tuned Mini Coopers, depending on the chosen event.

DiRT 3, Review

If you are already an expert on virtual speed, prepare to suffer a little time to play DiRT 3. Driving a car down a runway is different than controlling a vehicle with four-wheel drive on a twisty circuit. Prepare to see your car suffer the harsh effects of the damage system of the game. Thinking about this, Codemasters has included difficulty options that cover all types of players. Those who are not familiar with the steering wheel may turn on brake assistant directors and a line that indicates the best way to follow the clues and decrease the difficulty of the opponents. In this case, simply control the acceleration and cornering for an easier racing experience.

Players who are already the most experienced can disable any and all help, relying on their own abilities to win the race. In such cases, DiRT 3 becomes even more challenging than most racing games on the market and presents the rally racing as closely as possible in a video game. For all, there is the Flashback feature, which allows the player to literally go back and correct that mistake that may have cost the race or even pull off a better entry from the exit of a curve. Not using the feature ensures extra points after each race.

The sense of realism provided by the visual part in DiRT 3 also exists when it comes to audio. The sound of stones, gravel and pounding rain in the bodywork of the car is working very well and adds an interesting aspect to the driving sensation. You can also listen to the audience encouraging the runners during the race, vibrating with a bold move from reacting to the botched maneuvers. To enjoy all the game’s sonic potential at maximum, it’s definitely ideal to use a good set of headphones or a powerful sound system.

It’s worth mentioning the different menus created by Codemasters. Although the basic sources and sober colors used in the main options, the overall design of the game screens use triangles as visual aids. This effect is used in interesting ways in the single player campaign that in the game is called DiRT Tour. Here, the events available to the player are presented by means of triangular folders, which will be dismantling in accordance with the progress. Each type of event has a characteristic color, which facilitates their identification once you get used to them.

DiRT 3, Review

DiRT 3’s skillful audio work is indeed outstanding, but the game sadly uses some generic and uninspired sounds. All the cars sound so much alike and there are no changes with the speed variation. Even when the performance differences between two models is striking, both engines are screaming in an extremely similar way. The same goes for the copilot, who does not present a variety of speech and, in most cases, showing no emotion in his voice. It’s limited only to indicate the intensity of the next curve or approach ramps, and to provide sparse information about the player's performance. All this, however, could be dispensed without any fault.

We mention also the sound work with the audience, which responds to the movements of the race. It's a shame that the spectator’s artificial intelligence is not consistent with the audio. The fans hardly react when approached by a speeding car. When the safety barrier that is directly in front of them is being affected by the vehicle, they're just standing there as if nothing had happened. Also, at various times in the game, digital storytellers interfere to explain some of the basics of the game or introduce new game modes. These passages, however, cannot be cut and get in the way of those seeking a quick fun with DiRT 3. It is a simple function to which the Codemasters could have devoted more attention to.

For racing fans, DiRT 3 is the main dish, and features everything that the sport has to offer. The rest of the game’s content serves as a full range of the traditional games of the genre and presents challenges not found in any other title. Small problems do not diminish the brilliance of the title, which features beautiful graphics, bold vision and exciting challenges. Above all, DiRT 3 is a title different from what most gamers are accustomed to. It is also not an exaggeration to put it among the top racing games of this generation.

Marco Cecilio, NoobFeed

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General Information

DiRT 3

80/100

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Codemasters
Developer(s): Codemasters
Genres: Driving
Themes: Racing, Rally
Release Date: 2011-05-24

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