reviews\ Nov 10, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Dirt Track Racing 2 - PC - Review

The Dirt Track Racing game genre has been dominated by Ratbag games for a couple of years now with their popular line of games, Dirt Track Racing, Leadfoot, and Sprint Car Racing. Now we have their latest release, Dirt Track Racing 2.

Some say that there is no skill involved in driving a car around in circles, but those who say that have never done it.  Setting up a car to run in circles is a delicate art that requires attention to detail and an ability to read the track. DTR2's full range of car set up options gives you the tools needed to adjust and tweak your car into a dirt track demon. Tire pressures, spring rates, wedge, gearing, are all adjustable to give you the edge you will need to throw dirt in your opponents face.

DTR2 also gives you a full range of graphics and sound options as well to tune the game to your PC's capabilities. You are given full game controller capabilities, being able to set your controller type and button settings, of course I would recommend a wheel for this or any driving game.

Now lets take a look at how the game plays. First of all there are several gameplay modes, Quick race which gives you a single race against AI racers on the track of your choice (this is great for practice and setting your car up), then there is the Career mode in which you enter your career with enough money to buy a Bomber Class car, from there you must compete in series races to earn enough money to keep your car running and save enough to buy a car in the next class. Then you have your Multiplayer mode which allows you to race against other real life drivers via the Internet. The game includes a setup for the Gamespy arcade to allow you access to Multiplayer DTR2 racing almost immediately. There are three classes of cars from the BOMBER (a junker from the wrecking lot) to the faster LATE MODEL class (Late model stock car with a lot of modifications) and finally the CONCEPT class (which is a full blown race machine). Each of these classes of care\s runs and handles differently, start with the bomber and work your way up!

The graphics in this game are slightly better than in the previous releases but the same game engine used in the others is easy to see. The tracks are all new, but then there is only so much you can do with a dirt track. The tracks are varied and challenging, but the look and feel of the game is the same as DTR. The major distraction to the gameplay and graphics comes from the tear away feature. In real dirt track racing the racers wear tear away lens over their goggles. This allows them to "Tear away" a dirty sheet, exposing a fresh clean lens to look through. In the game, dirt and mud splatters across the screen, building up until your vision is severely hampered. At this point you have to "Tear away" the dirty lens to get a clean one. This tear away feature is used in every camera view (this is really annoying if you are racing from a chase view) and when you do use the tear away the dirt just disappears instead of sliding to the side as a real tear away would.

The sounds to this game are a real strong point, there's nothing like the roar of an unmuffled engine roaring around the track. The sounds are good enough that you can almost smell the burning rubber and fuel in the air!  Even the sound track to this game is good,

All things considered this game would have been a better "ADD ON" to the DTR game instead of a new stand alone game, there just isn't that much that is "New" to have created a whole new game. Basically this is a polished and expanded version of the original DTR. The look and feel of the game is still the same.

Gameplay: 7
  Gameplay is basically the same as in the original DTR. There is a Quick Race for single races, a Career Mode to progress through both classes and seasons, and a Multiplayer Mode for use in racing against real drivers via the Internet. The game does have a good replay value and is challenging to play. All controller types are supported.

Graphics: 8
  Graphics in all the Ratbag games are very good and this game is slightly better than the previous games. The particles, dust, and skid marks all look very good as do the car models and track details. The damage engine works well and damage to the cars is fairly realistic. The interior cockpit views are also very good.

Sounds: 8.5
  The sounds to this game are probably the games strongest point. They are very realistic and are very well matched to the action. Even the sound track music is good and well fitted to the game.

Difficulty: Medium
  This game is not the easiest to master. Even in a Bomber class car, getting the hang of a four wheel drift through the turns is a little difficult. Tuning your car takes lots of time and patience to get it right, start with small adjustments to a single area and test for results before making further adjustments. Too many or too much adjustment will make the car worse rather than better, so take it slow and steady.

Concept: 7

  A few new graphics and some new tracks, but the concept of the game has not changed from DTR, or rather should I say Same-o-Same-o.

Multiplayer: 7.5
  Gamespy Arcade is provided with the game to allow you to play head to head against real drivers via an Internet connection. Most racing games fare rather well in multiplayer mode, though at the time I tested this game there was little going on the net, perhaps as the game is released widespread and players pick it up there will be more interest on-line.

Overall: 7.3
  I was just a little disappointed in this release in that I expected so much more than I got. Each of Ratbags previous releases gave us something new, something different, whereas this game has just revisited the original DTR with some updated graphics and new tracks. This would have made a great Expansion Pack to the original DTR game, but offered far too little new to have been a stand alone game. Still I have to give it a neutral rating, not a thumbs up or down. There are so few dirt track racing games out there that anything offered is good, just that this game could have been, should have been so much more.


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