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DiRT 3 Review

publisher: Codemasters
developer: Codemasters
genre: Racing

ESRB rating: T

release date: May 24, 11
» All About DiRT 3 on ActionTrip

The video games industry is blooming with racing games once more. Publishers like Electronic Arts and Codemasters know full well that gamers are still interested in racing games. Whether it's because everyone's becoming generally sick of action games (first-person shooters, 3rd person action games, etc.) or simply because prime time television still compels you to watch an endless string of Top Gear reruns, I guess we'll never know. The fact remains, that a lot people love cars and a lot them prefer classic racers over any other game genre. Hell, even some of the most popular action games like Rockstar's GTA series and the recently released L.A. Noire, highlight driving more than any other feature. So, the genre is in no decline, that's for sure. DiRT 3, Codemasters' reinvigoration of the incredibly popular Colin McRae Rally series, arrives in the nick of time - right before the dry summer gaming season. Also, after Test Drive Unlimited 2 and a range of Need for Speed titles, gamers are just about getting hungry for some serious hardcore racing.

Okay, it's not exactly sensible calling this a hardcore racing game, because it just might give you the wrong impression. DiRT 3 wasn't designed strictly for diehard racing fans and rally aficionados. Certainly, if prefer such games, DiRT 3 provides a solid challenge. On the other hand, it easily appeals to gamers who are less interested in the hardcore racing experience. This is apparent right from the start.

From the get-go, we've come to appreciate the game's slick and intuitive interface, as well as the easy-to-use main menu and pre-race event selection screen. Experienced gamers will feel right at home, while casual gamers are bound to find their way around easily and with little to no problems.

The first few steps in DiRT 3 are similar to a lot of racers. You need to prove yourself in a variety of racing events in order to acquire some experience. Striving to join the racing elite, you'll be able to earn points, eventually unlocking more tracks, more cars and a wide selection of events and challenges, each of which offers additional opportunity from building a strong driver reputation. That's essentially what the game revolves around - getting yourself as many Rep.(Reputation) points as possible, so you may participate in events like the X-Games challenges and so on. As you progress through the main Dirt Tour, tracks and vehicles will continue to unlock, while the game becomes more challenging with each step.

DiRT 3 has a well-implemented learning curve, giving gamers a chance to master what it takes to be a top racer and superb rally driver. It takes a lot of hard work to join the company of top rally drivers. Again, you shouldn't feel threatened by the game's realistic approach. It's still primarily focused on providing the best possible experience for a large audience, which includes both experienced drivers and newbies. The best drivers among you can go for the 'Hardcore' difficulty option, which includes full vehicle damage, increasingly tough racing times to beat and generally more challenging opponents. While the game's difficulty system is generally geared towards beginners, it may cause some confusion among gamers who fit somewhere between 'Intermediate' and 'Hardcore' difficulty. In other words, for certain gamers, the former could be too easy, while the latter might seem too difficult. Regardless, there's still the possibility of tweaking the options to suit your own racing style, so this really isn't that much of a problem.

Racing enthusiasts have plenty to enjoy in DiRT 3, especially those who appreciate hot hatchbacks and proper racing cars. Progressing through the main single-player tour involves unlocking an impressive variety of vehicles from various eras, including the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, in addition to Pro and Group B categories. The Pro category offers some vastly superior cars, while the notorious Group B allows you to pick from a range of rally classics such as the Audi Quattro and Renault 5 Turbo. Gamers who are more familiar with racing history, might be a touch disappointed with the game not offering other recognized samples of rally brilliance like the Peugeot 205 T16, even though the car was in one of the game's memorable promo trailers (inspired by the repudiated sportscar class - Group B). Apparently that, as well as a variety of other cars, were labeled as DLC to be offered to players outside the retail package (now, I stress that we're not entirely sure about this, but if it's true, than having players pay extra for such cars is downright nasty - then again, it wouldn't be the first time we've witnessed DLC, um, nastiness, in gaming).

There isn't much to say about the game's newly implemented YouTube feature, which allows gamers to record and upload their favorite race replays, so they may, naturally share the footage with others. The major downside to this is that the footage is limited to only 30 seconds and that's not a lot to be honest, considering the fact that most races last a lot longer than that. Also, when people share their footage from a racing game like DiRT 3, they'd probably want to share the entire race, as opposed to one mere highlight. Although we realize that this probably wasn't very easy to implement in the game.

Some minor inconsistencies in the graphics departments were spotted. For instance, when you watch a replay of one of your races, you'll notice that the car's wheels move left and right too frantically - in other words, they move every time the player pushes a button on the keyboard or gamepad. This is far from realistic and makes replays a bit unconvincing. But hey, look here, this really is a small snag, hardly worth making a fuss over, especially seeing as it has no influence on the gameplay mechanics whatsoever. It's just a negligible mishap we noticed that could upset the demanding among you... People who are referred to as -- to coin a lovely British term -- tossers (hm, great, I just called myself a tosser).

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8.6   Very Good

A challenging and beautiful racing game that can easily reel in a wider audience more than any of the previous installments, improved physics, more emphasis on tracks with tarmac, fun multiplayer;

It preserves its predecessor's teenage-style simplicity a bit more than it should and appeals less to those who always appreciated the hardcore image of the CMR series, some minor visual bugs (we emphasize the word 'minor'), the YouTube feature isn't all it's cracked up to be, voice acting's a bit annoying in this one, we would have appreciated more locations (such as Japan, UK, Spain, France, Italy, etc.).


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