Dirt 3 – Not Just Dirt Anymore
While Codemasters has always been appreciated for it's work, it's easy to look at Dirt 2 as it's American market breakout success. The addition of head to head competitive racing made the off-road racer appeal to gamers in the US, and it was universally praised for it's entertaining racing model. Now, Dirt 3 is on the horizon, and Codemasters is adding plenty of features to keep the formula fresh.
First, the additions to singleplayer gameplay. Codemasters has mainly focused on increasing the variety of environments and vehicles in the singleplayer Tour Mode. In the Tour Mode, you start as a scrub, trying to win more races, to get more cars, so you can access more races, in a standard racing game formula. There are plenty of cars to fill out your garage, and getting the cash to do so won't be as repetitive as it was in the previous Dirt game. Dirt 3 features a grand total of over 100 tracks, compared to Dirt 2's 41. It's not just the number of tracks that has increased, either. The tracks themselves feature more terrains than just - well, dirt. There are now snow tracks, which affect the handling on your vehicle significantly. There are also road tracks, like in Dirt 2, but now all of the tracks feature a dynamic weather system, as well as a day/night cycle.
The multiplayer in Dirt 3 has been improved as well, by improving the core experience while adding several new features. For instance, not all the multiplayer is online, now. There are all forms of local multiplayer in Dirt 3, from splitscreen up to 2 players, and pass and play modes up to 8 players. You can race in these modes either co-operatively or competitively. There are new gameplay modes for online or offline as well. There's a new free-play style of mode called "Gymkhana", where players drive through a small, open environment, performing stunts for high scores. In these same maps, you can also play an "Infection" style game mode, where an infected driver tries to tag the others in a limited time. Besides these new modes, you still have the normal races from Dirt 2, though these also benefit from the increased track count.
The Dirt series has always blurred the line between arcade and simulation racing, and Dirt 3 blurs that line even further. Now, players are given the options for assists, similar to Forza Motorsport 3, with options for racing lines and auto-braking. This can help new players get into the game if they were previously intimidated by the driving. That is, if the graphics didn't already attract new players. Dirt 3 is a nice looking game, from the footage released so far, with a sense of speed and high quality car models. The weather and tracks look good as well, and the cars will now take realistic damage.
If any of this has piqued your interest, make sure to look out for our review of Dirt 3 on the week of May 24th, 2011.