Nachiket 'therapist' Mhatre, Jun 22, 2011 1513 hrs IST
One step forward, two steps back.
Unparalleled graphics; Good balance between arcade and smiluation; Excellent physics and damage modelling; Well optimised; Detailed cars; Gymkhana mode; Group B rally cars; Flashback system returns.
DRM from hell; DiRT Tour lacks the usual rally locations; Lacklustre soundtrack and voice-overs; Annoying cyan tint; In-game YouTube uploader is lame.
Expert Rating :
DiRT 3 Review (PC) Developer: Codemasters Southam Publisher: Codemasters Genre: Racing Game Engine: Ego 2.0 Cross Platform: PS3, X360 Price: Rs 699 Street Price: Rs 652
The Group B great, the Audi Quattro S1, returns.
The DiRT reboot to Codemasters' Colin McRae franchise may not have been as hardcore as the earlier Colin McRae Rally games, but that didn't take anything away from its brilliance. Yes, it went easy with the driving mechanics and toned down the rally content to accommodate the more inclusive off-road racing elements, in a nod to the Mountain Dew generation's "extreme" culture. However, DiRT 2 struck a balance between the hardcore and casual in a technically competent package. It achieved that with a polish that made even a seasoned simulation junkie like me embrace it unconditionally. DiRT 3, therefore, has very large shoes to fill.
The first major revision is evident from the get-go in the menu screen itself. Gone is the banged-up RV and, along with it, the awesome 3D menu system from the last game. The UI is now a boring pyramid-themed affair. Codemasters had no business fixing something that wasn't broken. I surmise this polished look is meant to reflect the player's transition from an amateur in DiRT 2 to a professional racer in this instalment. That means you now have access to a much larger roster of vehicles and racing teams, including tonnes of new WRC-licensed content that Codies has scored this time around.
Group B Ahoy! This includes the elusive Group B Rally cars - the 600+ BHP titan-killers that were banned by the FIA following an alarming number of driver and spectator fatalities. Unfortunately, despite advertising a full Group B roster in the promos, the retail version ships without some of the iconic cars, such as the Ford Escort Mk. II, Lancia Delta S4, and Peugot 205 T16. Apparently, these cars will be added through the DLC packs soon enough. I just hope Codemasters doesn't have the gall to charge money for those.
The DC Compound is truckloads of fun.
The single-player career mode, dubbed the DiRT Tour, has the same basic structure as the last game. You start off at the bottom of the rung, participating in races and earning points for podium finishes in order to unlock events, cars, sponsorships, and liveries. The events are carried over from DiRT 2 and include the usual Rally, Landrush, Trailblazer, Rally Cross, and Raid, with their own set of SUVs, stadium trucks, rally cars, and baja racers. This update introduces the crazy Gymkhana discipline that lets you run amok against the clock in a multi-surface obstacle course. In this mode, you are expected to string together 180/360 degree spins (doughnuts), massive drifts, crazy jumps, and other flamboyant driving manoeuvres to earn points.
DiRT 3 includes these events in the career mode, as well as the DC Compound, which lets you hone your freestyle skills at your own leisure; albeit with tid-bits such as hidden packages, unlockable manoeuvres, crazy stunt bonuses, and other missions locked away as an incentive to unleash your 4WD creativity. Yes, this also marks the return of Ken Block to the franchise. Finally, it features snow tracks for the first time since the DiRT reboot.
Snow events appear for the first time in the reboot.
Spectacular, Yet Well-Optimised Graphics DiRT 2 was the best looking racing game till date. DiRT 3 is no exception, with its splendid Ego 2.0 engine that delivers the best lighting and particle effects I have seen in a racing game. The vehicles sport noticeably better meshes, with stunning exterior and cockpit detail. A high polygon count beautifully fleshes out not just the exterior, but even mechanical components - such as the suspension, driveshafts, exhaust, and engine components - seamlessly integrated with the vehicle.
The volumetric dust effects evident in the desert and gravel stages are mind-bendingly realistic. Night races are brought to life by a competent lighting engine. DiRT 3 also carries over the dynamic weather effects debuted in F1 2010. Foliage is rendered with more detail than what's found in most FPS titles, let alone racing games. Atmospheric effects, for example droplets on cars during wet races, are rendered with an impeccable level of detail. Call it Crysis on wheels, if you must.