If you ever played the game Destruction Derby way back on the PlayStation One, then you will pretty much know what to expect here. Dirt Showdown is the latest in the Dirt game series bought to us by Codemasters. Being from Codemasters we expect great things as the company has been around for years, surviving the trials and tribulations of the gaming world and coming out top. Dirt Showdown is nothing like the previous entries in the Dirt series we have become accustomed to, however. Dirt Showdown brings us some arcade action; this is a game that would be suited to a modern game arcade. It is a game almost fully based around stock car racing. You will need to be prepared to hold on to your steering wheel and to bash your competition out of the way in a fast-paced arcade-style game.
Dirt Showdown’s intentions are clear from the start. This game really wants you to be online. It does have a single player aspect, but as you play you soon come to realise any fun to be had is beating your friend’s times and scores. Is this a bad thing? Well, not if you know what to expect. If you have purchased this game looking for the same sort of driving experience you come to expect from Dirt then you will be sadly disappointed.
Dirt Showdown looks and feels as slick as some spilt engine oil. It certainly looks the part, right from the offset as you navigate Codemasters’ menu system to the actual handling of the game. This game does have some truly great graphics, they are full of colour and vibrant and moving between the various menus is incredibly smooth. The detail on each car is fantastic, right down to the various logos and the spots of dirt and dents that appear as you race.
The gameplay is split mostly between three types of events: Races, bone crunching Destruction Derby and the freestyle events, that Codemasters call Hooligan events. These are all great fun and the names are pretty self-explanatory. The racing events require you to do simply that, race against either the computer or human opponents in the online mode. Then we have the Destruction Derby events where your sole aim is to basically destroy your opponents’ cars as much as possible. As you do this, you gain points that all go towards a final total score and, as the in-game timer counts down to zero, you are hopefully placed at the top. Hooligan mode, is where you use your skills to do donuts, jumps and drifting and basically look cool. Here you gain points as you manage to pull off these stunts that again all go towards your final score. This mode has also been known in the Dirt game series as Yokohama racing. I myself found this mode quite hard to get used to, but once you have played around a few times you will soon get the hang of it. As you progress through the various events, of which there are many, you gain money that can be spent upgrading or buying yourself some new wheels. This becomes your main focus as you need faster and better wheels as you progress from the starting stages in what Dirt calls the Showdown Tour. You start off at the rookie stage and aim to progress up to the hardest stages that are called Legend.
Dirt Showdown overall is a pretty slick game. It’s all shiny and very welcoming for all those arcade lovers out there. I did really enjoy this game and soon realised I had been playing for a good number of hours without realising it. If a game can do that then it means it’s not too shabby at all. This game also features heavily on playing against your mates. Here you can play your actual friends by sending them challenges or having a full race of your choice. This can leave the game a bit stale, if you don’t have too many friends that play on the PC then you will have to face-off against strangers, but hey, you might make some new friends.
So, the main question is do you run out and spend all your pocket money on Dirt Showdown? Well, if you like arcade racing games, then the answer is yes. If you hate arcade games and prefer a more real life simulation, then stay away, this is not the game for you. I have to round off by saying Codemasters have made a pretty solid game. It is great fun and certainly lives up to their reputation. This game only loses points due to heavily trying to point you towards multiplayer with single player limited to little more than playing to get better cars. You really do need lots of friends playing to fully appreciate this game.
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