By Matt Carey
Dude! It’s, like, so totally awesome to see you. Anyways, like, we have this totally awesome game here, dude. Seriously, dude, you have to check it out man. It’s, like, a car game, with some totally killer wheels dude. I was playing it, and I was, like, “Whoa, this is totally awesome dude”.
And that’s enough of that. Annoying isn’t it?
Quite why those “dudes” at Codemasters decided to make new Colin McRae Dirt 2 sound, and indeed look, like it been made by the cast of Point Break I will never know. And it’s a damn shame because underneath the skate/surf lingo and the strange set-up, Codemasters have got a solid racer on their hands.
Initially, I was disappointed and slightly confused about the change in direction with Dirt 2. We had seen the series expand with the first game into other kinds of rally events, but Dirt 2 is the first to take on board any form of recognisable name – aside from the cars, obviously – other than the dearly departed McRae.
The Colin McRae Rally games debuted on the first Playstation, back in 1998, and they were based purely around the WRC. And this way it remained until 2007 when the series took a very different direction. Gone was the ‘travel to country- race’ formula. In its place was a pyramid featuring many different types of events rather than the traditional ‘get from point a to point b’. Whilst the racing itself was solid, the packaging and purpose was confusing. To those that had been with the series since its debut, it seemed almost like sacrilege.
Dirt 2 has attempted to address the lack of direction that its predecessor had. By attaching itself somewhat to the X-Games, the game finds its voice. Now, instead of a pointless progression through a pyramid structure, we have a progression around the world, swanning from race to race, event to event, as we see fit. This works a great deal better as now, unconfined by a set up that involves you beating a race to unlock the next, you are allowed to race in what you want when you want.
Progression is monitored by the doling out of experience points. Increase your level, and you unlock more events to compete in.
As mentioned, there is an assortment of race types to test your mettle. From racing against other cars, to point to point races where you must knock over boxes en-route, to the more traditional rallying we’re all used to, there is enough there to keep you interested and involved. Initially I balked at this, moaning that it didn’t work in Dirt 1, so why should it work here. But, the new career works well, and you do feel that you are competing in a well established series of races, with goals to be worked towards and achieved.
Codemasters have taken a lot of cues from Grid, their track racing title from last year. Like, Grid, the racing itself is solid, with the cars handling well; noticeably different from each other, and with some sense of physics at play. For the most part, it feels like the same title, with different cars, courses and track types. This is not really a bad thing though, as Grid was a very good, very enjoyable racer.
The presentation of the game however is very much hit and miss. By attaching itself to the X-Games, and all that goes with it, the style of the menus and presentation reflects the affiliation. So, some of the writing dotted about the place is graffiti-style, the voice over guy sounds like he is from Bill And Ted and the music is typically punk / indie / rock It all becomes too much.
It doesn’t matter that the art of racing your vehicle is executed extremely well if all the bells and whistles running alongside it make you want to fill your eyes and ears with expanding builders foam.
One other thing to note is that the cars available to unlock and purchase seem a bit pointless. Yes, it may be nice to buy a Mitsubishi Evo 9, but if its stats are equal to or worse than the car you are given at the start, then what is the point?
If you can look past this, or this is your kind of thing, then you will pretty much lap this game up. The racing is fun, you have a sense of purpose and direction, and there are plenty of cars, events, and others bits and pieces to unlock – I particularily liked that you could dangle a model of your avatar from the rear-view mirror.
It would be a lot more bearable if the guy who speaks to you throughout and offers you advice would just shut up. I’m 33, married, have short hair and am over-weight goddamit. Stop talking to me like I wear my combats baggy and halfway down my arse.
Electro-Candy Score 7/10 – above average of its genre