Dirt 3 Review
Dirt 3 is a superb off-road racer that expands on its predecessor to offer one of the most entertaining racing game experiences this generation. Many of the features from Dirt 2 return, including the game’s lengthy career mode and great multiplayer options, whilst offering a number of new elements such as split-screen multiplayer, more vehicles and interesting new multiplayer modes. The experience in Dirt 3 will keep you coming back for more thanks to a number of customizable difficulty settings and accessible gameplay mechanics.
What Dirt 3 Got Right
Great car handling - Dirt 3’s major selling point is its handling. Cars handle superbly with impressive response and detail. You can get behind the wheels of some fantastic vintage vehicles, and no matter what car you do end up choosing, you’ll find Dirt 3 to be a satisfying video game driving experience. The game relies on assists and setting to determine difficulty, which allows the driving mechanics to remain consistent throughout the experience.
Difficult settings - Dirt demands precise driving throughout every event. The game isn’t particularly punishing, but unforced errors such as crashes and spinouts may compromise your ability to finish the race in first place. Once you customize the game’s difficulty settings, turn off assists and mess around with the difficulty, you’ll find a game that is increasingly challenging. Those that aren’t after an overly challenging experience will be pleased to know that the Forza-like racing line is in Dirt 3, making it that little bit more accessible for those new to the genre. The racing line can be of great benefit during the race, and the need to follow it precisely highlights how realistic Dirt 3’s driving mechanics are, as the slightest over-turn can sending you crashing into a wall. A visual guide directs you around the track without making it overly simplistic, thanks to overall great track design.
Superb presentation - It’s a shame that Dirt 3 doesn’t allow you to take in the scenery very often, because what’s on offer is a stunning visual presentation that is bustling with detail and life. Cars have an impressive level of detail, and seeing them covered in mud at the end of an event is extremely satisfying. The feedback from audio and gameplay is fantastic, and the sound effects and soundtrack are appropriate and relevant to the experience.
Great new events - You’ll have access to a number of events spanned across the four seasons – a collection of events that can be played and replayed in any order, which helps keep the experience feeling fresh and varied -- as well Dirt Tour mode, which offers unlockables and extras that add plenty of extra value to the experience. There is the wonderful London’s Battersea unlockable, a place where you can practice gymkhana techniques and earn extra rep in the open area. Rep is earned through the likes of performing tricks and completing large jumps. The great new gymkhana events allow you to perform a number of outrageous stunts and trick, and the mode acts as great practice for the rest of the game. The events throughout the Dirt Tour career mode are varied, although back-to-back events at the same location may leave things feeling a little repetitive for you. All events are included in the online component, along with some interesting takes on familiar multiplayer modes, such as capture-the-flag and an infected tag game. Multiplayer can get quite intense although sometimes a little too hectic. However, the experience is enjoyable enough to check out, and its social media integration may contribute to a growing online community.
Split-screen multiplayer - Although the gymkhana and joyride events can’t be played in split-screen, the rest of the experience is essentially identical to the solo campaign, with gameplay and presentation maintaining the same level of quality. A number of settings allow you to include things like full damage and customized vehicles, giving you plenty of different multiplayer experiences to enjoy.
What Dirt 3 Got Wrong
Garage feels limited - As Codemasters removed cash from the game, all cars in your garage are sent over as you level up by manufacturers and sponsors. The downside of this is that you can enter your garage to find a bunch of cars you didn't even know you earned or didn't necessarily need or want, and this has somewhat of an adverse affect on the sense of progression and reward. Including cash instead of rewarding based purely on progression would allow the gamer to choose, buy and sell at their own discretion, with any big purchase offering a greater sense of satisfaction than a reward that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Social Media implementation could be better - It’s great that a YouTube upload feature is present in the first place, but it’s rather restricted and ultimately an afterthought amongst the game’s core experience. You can only upload 30 seconds per clip, which is disappointing but still an applauded inclusion.
The Final Verdict
Dirt 3 is arguably the best off-road racer on the market. It includes many of the great aspects in its predecessor, expands on them in many areas, whilst also adding in new events, namely the fantastic gymkhana mode. Online multiplayer is solid and rather enjoyable. The cars handle superbly and consistently throughout, and the number of difficulty settings and race assist allow you to mix things up and keep the experience feeling fresh and challenging.
By Gaetano Prestia
A satisfying off-road racer with great new features and superb car handling.
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