Codemasters have always lived up to their name when it comes to Racing games. The Colin McRae series has always been near the top of the list for players, with the DiRT spin off series bringing it into the current generation. DiRT 3 continues to supply star quality thrills, despite dropping the McRae name, and could well be the best entry yet.
Those who found 2010’s DiRT 2 too ‘extreme’ for their liking can rest at ease here. The biggest improvement the game has over its predecessor is having less annoying and corny voiceovers calling you ‘Dude’ and the like. It put many off what was an otherwise impressive campaign mode, and though the one seen here is more straightforward, it’s undoubtedly better. You take on Rally competitions split into 4 seperate event series. The UI here is pretty impressive, something few games get any credit for, with slick graphical touches and smooth transitions between each menu screen. This attention to detail in areas most developers overlook is what puts DiRT 3 ahead of all the other rally racers on the market.
But the racing is why we’re here, and as ever the experience is top notch. Handling can be tough to get to grips with at first, but the slight learning curve is enough to make even the most experienced drivers feel accomplished once they start winning races. This isn’t a typical road-based racer either, and you can always tell what kind of terrain you are dealing with by the varying degree of control you end up having. The snow/ice tracks are especially impressive, not just from a graphical standpoint, but how much you can feel the ground underneath you when driving. This is a rally game through and through, and feels exactly how it should.
There’s always variety to be seen in DiRT 3, whether that is the different terrain you can drive on, the huge amount of cars the game features, or the plethora of game modes. Codemasters get it right from start to finish, with enough content to keep every type of gamer occupied for weeks. The online modes are rich and competitive, while single player outside of the long campaign keeps up the trend of top quality.
The game looks fantastic too, the in car view being a splendid visual treat. Mud flies around your vehicle, while the excellent physics showcase how powerful the engine Codemasters are woking with is. Even when racing from a third person perspective, I was thouroughly impressed with how the game looked. Your co-driver is clear and consise, the sound design allowing for you to hear him while featuring some of the best environmental sounds ever heard in the genre.
And with that sentiment, I must say that while it falls on the arcade side of realism, DiRT 3 is currently the best representation of racing this year. It’s a blast to play, looks and sounds perfect and is truly rewarding with its learning curve and impressive handling. DiRT 3 has replaced GRiD as my racer of choice on PS3, and it looks like it will remain there for some time. It could well be the best racer of 2011.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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