Colin McRae: DiRT 2

E3 2009: Dirt 2 Hands On Preview - Tour Starts This September

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Way back in 2007 Codemasters started their driving revolution with a little known title called Dirt, looking to bring the lively world of rally back to our consoles. A game with little to no hype dropped on to our consoles with a bang with its impressive visuals and immersive gameplay. Here we are though, just under 2 years later and Codemasters are looking to take the franchise to the next level. Dirt 2 was easily one of the best racers at the show this year and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The career mode will of course make a return and play a big part of the experience in Dirt 2, but don’t expect the pyramid from the original to return. Instead what you can expect is a career mode that makes you build your contacts and driving status from the ground up. It starts off with a simple phone call from Travis Pastrana and a gift from Ken Block in the shape of Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza from X-Games 2007, and a few event invites later and you’re well on your way to stardom. Expect to travel across the world in your RV taking part in an extreme sports rally driving experience. The game takes you to 9 countries, has 50 tracks and over 100 events for you to get stuck into. The final game is set to feature 5 race types including the traditional point to points and the rally cross events that we saw in Dirt 1. The announcement press release boasted new race-types but they weren’t on show at this year’s E3.

The career mode also looks to throw a huge customisation aspect into the formula with players now allowed to take their car from the first to the last race. It’s also about making it a personal experience as well, as you can style your car with a number of stickers on the dashboard and a number of other things to give your car character. Maybe now you’ll be less inclined to roll it down the cliff, you know, just to see what happens. That whole personalised experience is taken one step further with the final build said to include responsive opponents, so if you drive into the back of someone, expect them to shout back at you. The cars themselves have twice as many polygons as Dirt 1 and the damage deformation is a lot more detailed.

The build we went hands on with at E3 had 5 tracks including Shibuya, Japan and Baja California, Mexico. The Shibuya race was a circuit race and took place in a built up urban environment, whereas Baja was out in the sticks. After spending a few minutes with the title it was clear to see the handling had been changed a fair bit. The cars definitely seemed lighter now and it was a lot easier to throw the back-end round the corners, sometimes so much so that you lose the back end. Not sure whether the lighter cars aspect is a good thing but it definitely seemed a little more difficult to get to grips with than Dirt 1 did. Maybe Codemasters are shooting for more of a simulation feel this time around rather than arcade feel we're used to. Codemasters have also thrown water on to some of the tracks this time around in true rally fashion, which can catch you a little off guard if your tires are wet as you take the next corner. I found that out the painful way many a time - wet tires and dirt do just not mix.

Codemasters’ Dirt 2 is shaping up well and looks beautiful. The learning curve may be a little bit steeper than the pick up and play nature of the original, but we’re ready for the challenge. The career mode sounds like it is shaping up to be a more personal and interactive experience which stands a good chance of giving the title an injection of life. Speaking to Codemasters after, they stated that the multiplayer is getting a much needed revamp after the original’s poor effort, with 8 player set up promised ... which we can only presume is track racing rally-cross and not the point-to-points, which suits us fine. We have a feeling that when September comes around, Dirt and racing fans alike will be happy bunnies.

The next gen version of Dirt 2 is set for a September release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.


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Game Info


US September 08, 2009
Europe September 11, 2009

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