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Dirt 2 Review


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On 09/27/2009 at 08:04 PM by Neal Ronaghan

This tremendously robust rally racing game is one of the best of its kind.
RECOMMENDATION:

To any fan of racing games, whether you're into Mario Kart or Gran Turismo.

The predecessor to Dirt 2 came out in 2007, and sadly, Colin McRae, the acclaimed rally driver and the name attached to the Dirt series, died in a helicopter crash around the time of the original's release. Dirt 2, or Colin McRae: Dirt 2 as it is called in Europe, is a veiled love letter to the late driver as the game centers around getting to the Colin McRae Tribute Cup. On the way to the cup, you journey through a fantastic mixture of arcade and simulation racing in this top-line rally racing video game.

You play as a rookie driver who is going on a world tour as he tries to make himself world-renowned. Luckily, you've got friends in high places as you're given a car and entry into some races. In every race there are notable rally racing stars such as Travis Pastrana and Dave Mirra who egg you on and encourage you as you race against them. Eventually, if you prove your mettle in racing, they'll become your friends and will team up with you in certain races.

The user interface is enthralling. When it boots up, the game places you right in the middle of your touring RV, where you can access single-player, multiplayer, and more. It really immerses you into the racing world.

Speaking of the world, you travel all over it in different places ranging from Baja, California to Tokyo. There are a few tracks per locale, and they get subtly changed for every race. In total, you can compete in 100 different races spread across eight different race types. The different race types help the game not get stale as you'll be crashing gates, trying to win circuit races, going through intense rally point-to-point races, and avoiding being the odd man out in Last Man Standing. There are 35 different cars to choose from, most of which you have to purchase with your winnings, but only a limited amount of cars work with the different race types. This can get confusing, especially when you have to upgrade each car to different grades to compete in different races.

One new mechanic, which was a holdover from the Dirt offshoot Grid, is the ability to rewind the last few seconds of a race. This takes the piss out of frustration as you can take away any missteps you make, although you have a limited amount of Flashbacks to use depending on your difficulty.

Dirt 2 does a fantastic job of rewarding you continuously. You gain levels quickly, earn different cosmetic choices in almost every race you compete in, and unlock more locales and races as you gain levels. Yes, you might just win a new paint job or a pointless toy for your dashboard, but it's still great to have that constant gratification. You also have different achievements/trophies to strive for and different in-game goals that reward you with more experience. Also, you have optional weekly online tournaments to strive for that are integrated with the single-player game.

In addition to the tournaments, there's a hearty online multiplayer mode in which every event type is playable with up to eight players. There is minimal lag to the experience, and it's a blast to race with friends and randoms alike.

The game is graphically remarkable as each locale is different and the cars look gorgeous. The small effects, such as the reflecting sun, are fantastic. Another highlight is the physics engine, in which everything reacts just as you'd expect it to. The soundtrack also impresses and fits the experience perfectly.

Dirt 2 is one of the finest racing games I have ever played, mainly because it merges the two main types of racing games (arcade and simulation) into one amazing experience. It features a huge single-player experience with tons of variety, and a solid, fully-featured online multiplayer mode. It is a must-have for any racing game fan.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

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