I was recently able to have a go with Codemasters’ next Dirt installment, Dirt Showdown at the Gadget Show Live. Is the game simply smashing, or does it fall face down in the dirt?
Dirt 3 kept the fun of it’s previous title, whilst adding more of the rallying content that fans had called for. What does Dirt: Showdown offer that the previous titles didn’t?
Dirt: Showdown is not about racing, in any serious way at least. The game calls on players to have as much vehicular mayhem fun as possible, and then some more.
The preview of the game consisted of a game type called ‘Knock Out’. Here players were given a compact square map with a raised platform in the middle. Players get points for bashing, ramming, and generally trying to destroy other cars on the platform. Players do not get points for hitting others that are off the platform. This makes for tense action as all the players jostle for position on the top platform, whilst the points rack up for the most aggressive and tactical drivers.
In the bottom right hand corner of the screen is a wheel-shaped HUD that shows both ‘Boost’ and ‘Health’ levels. The HUD changes depending on the game-type you are playing, but at all times the HUD remains unobtrusive and sleek, allowing you to concentrate on the action.
At first glance Dirt: Showdown looks visually the same as Dirt 3, but as you play the difference becomes clear. Sparks fly when players smash into eachother and the cars are much more destructible. Body panels fall off and lay strewn around the course, leaving a picture of devastation at the end of the game. It was highly satisfying to see this level of destructibility on the cars, making them feel more like a car with individual components and panels rather than just a rectangular block used for hitting other rectangular blocks.
Codemasters also take full advantage of the graphics capabilities with the environments. Bright stadium lights shimmer off the cars and onto the camera, fireworks spread sparkling beads of colourful light throughout the night sky and bursts of fire shoot out from the ground as you drive up a ramp or pull off a jump. All these things make Dirt: Showdown visually spectacular, a true feast for the eyes.
The menus on Dirt: Showdown follow on from the tried and tested look of Dirt 3. It is sleek and simple, allowing you to easily navigate the cars and tracks on the game. The menus are also very visually useful, showing large images of the cars next to their names, making for very trouble-free navigation around the menus.
One aspect of the game that does unfortunately stay with us from Dirt 3 is the jarring American accents that seem to irritate pretty much everyone. The annoying voices of encouragement chip in at every possible opportunity, reminding me how great the race was, or how I shouldn’t be upset and try again next time.
Although these voices of reason and wisdom are an attempt to engage us further in the Dirt: Showdown experience, they just left me with the urge to press the ‘mute’ button.
The experience of Dirt: Showdown was enjoyable, but those fans who called for more rallying content for Dirt 3 should probably avoid this game. Dirt: Showdown is a fun spin-off from Dirt 3, in no way intended to be serious, and in no way a successor to Dirt 3.
Dirt: Showdown is definitely fun and will provide some of the most enjoyable driving experiences a game can offer but am concerned as to how long this game will be satisfying. I rest assured for now though, as Showdown offers to bring some unique and entertaining vehicular mayhem when it’s released on May 24th in mainland Europe. The UK will receive it on the 25th May With the United States release date being the 29th.
Dirt: Showdown’s demo will be available on May 1st everywhere featuring both multiplayer and singleplayer game modes.