DiRT Showdown review
To clarify right off the bat, DiRT Showdown is not your typical DiRT game. For years, Codemasters has been perfecting the art of the rally racing game, starting with the Colin McRae series and eventually moving onto the DiRT-y path. But with Showdown, it takes things a little more extreme, somewhere along the same lines as the original MotorStorm game. But where that game was all about racing, Showdown introduces a fun, new destructive factor that, when coupled with the already proven gameplay and online features, makes for a fun ride to take on warm summer evenings.
As you race through Showdown’s campaign, you’ll discover multiple events that you can take part in. The stunt-filled Gymkhana returns, with Ken Block once again issuing challenges from behind the wheel. You’ll also take part in Smash Block races (where you run over blocks in succession to keep a race going), 8-Ball events (with enclosed figure-8 style tracks) and Trick Rush (performing jumps and other feats to boost your score), along with not-so-traditional Hooligan events.
Two stand-outs join the team this time around. The first is Joyride, consisting of a number of wide-open racing roads where you can stop and choose whatever challenges you’re up to. But perhaps the more entertaining offering of the two is Demolition, where you can take part in old fashioned demolition derbies and the new Knock-Off events to prove your worth. This includes trashing opponents’ cars like crazy with bashes galore while keeping your own vehicle from falling apart.
Paired up with DiRT’s gameplay set-up, Showdown becomes a fun experience in its own right. Sure, you’re not really taking part in a serious campaign, but that’s kind of the point, as Codemasters felt like loosening up a bit. As a result, you may take a little bit to get used to the destructiveness, but once it sinks in, there’s really nothing like it.
What’s more, the experience multiplies even further once you invite friends. Log in to Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network and you can challenge others in any event you like, smashing them to pieces or racing for the finish line. The online play works exquisitely and with hardly any lag. If you prefer the non-direct competition, you can also post your best scores and times to leaderboards and pit them against others.
For a not-so-direct sequel, DiRT Showdown looks just as good as previous entries. The car models impress, especially when they’re falling to pieces after a crazy wreck. The tracks themselves stand out as well, with a variety of locations and designs that will keep you spinning your wheels. And the weather effects and other pieces of lighting detail really stand out, showing you how much Codemasters has progressed with this engine.
If any area needs improvement, however, it’s the sound. While the car noises and crashes are authentic, we’re not too fond of the announcer who repeats himself way too often for his own good, nor the soundtrack, which consists of mostly high-end rock that isn’t quite as well-chosen as it could have been. It’s best to supply your own soundtrack for this one if you can.
Even with its audio setbacks, DiRT Showdown is a quality addition to the series, and a nice little offshoot that’ll keep you busy until DiRT 4 eventually rolls around next year. Now get online and do some damage.