When a developer makes a sequel, usually one expects a return to the comfortable and expected. A good sequel builds on the foundation of its predecessors, while bringing new and fresh gameplay elements to gamers. A bad one? Well, it can alienate gamers if the game ignores what made the originals so successful, and it can leave a bad taste in the mouths of gamers if a sequel isn't fresh enough. Walking that fine line is difficult.
When Colin McRae: Dirt 2 launched in 2009, it was clear that Codemasters was taking the franchise in a more action-oriented fashion. Yes, while the game replicated the journey of a rally car driver from the rookie to professional, it was definitely a "Mountain Dew" version of the original Dirt's off-road racing. Not necessarily bad, is was certainly different. For fans of the more straight-laced versions of Dirt, Dirt 2 was a little too brotastic. This time, however, Codemasters is reigning in the “xtreme” and making upcoming sequel Dirt 3 a little more refined.
Where to start? Well, the first thing they did was start with how the cars handle. Codemasters rebuilt the suspension of the cars and changed how cars interact with the ground. Vehicles now handle better and are more realistic. Cars can be thrown left and right, and as the center of gravity shifts within the vehicle, so does the driving behavior of the car. Players will have to work with this new suspension system if they want to win races, and the new tuning system will force gamers to build their vehicles to best fit each course.
Then they'll be building a car for the biggest addition to Dirt 3: gymkhana. A freestyle driving method, gymkhana is drifting taken to the extreme, where drivers perform a series of driving tricks, such as doughnuts, figure-eights, jumps, and more. Players will even be challenged to swing their car underneath low hanging trailer and between construction equipment. It's all pretty impressive and difficult stuff, and to complete all 75 challenges in the gymkhana compound, players will need to practice and tune their drifting machines.
Gymkhana will also show up in multiplayer. Invasion challenges players to knock over cutouts of aliens, while Infection is a zombie tag mode. Finally, Transporter is a vehicle version of capture the flag, and Cat and Mouse places one player in a standard Mini Cooper, while the rest are fully tricked out cars trying to catch the Mini. Seems like substantially fun stuff, although we were not given hands-on with the multiplayer.
Bar none, the gymkhana driving is the most exciting and enthralling portion of the game. However, other new features, such as a dynamic race track audience, different driving surfaces, locations based upon real world tracks ranging from Finland to Kenya, and real-world co-drivers offering audio guidance on the track indicate this is a substantial upgrade in the Dirt franchise.