In short, the interface is fine and dandy and about 100% less irritating than DIRT 2; an all-round win there then.
Dirty Pretty Things
One huge reason to like dirt 3 is the fact that it looks more than satisfactorily adequate. That’s a long-winded way of saying that the environments, from snow via desert dust to Scandinavian mud are all exactly driveable and in no way made me think: “Oh, look a tree has just appeared… out of the driving snow… just popped up… and just when I was getting used to the screen tearing around the corners.”
Sure, there’s some slow-down in multiplayer, but without using hyperbole such as "as gorgeous as you first thought Myst was the first time you saw it” or “Like Uncharted 3 on a roller-coaster ride of acid on steroids”, everything is in its place and very good looking it is too.
The various cars, buggies and trucks are all true to nature; there are even a few wobbly exhaust pipes here and there. You also get a decent (not Forza or even Burnout Paradise decent but nevertheless decent) selection of motors before the necessity to purchase DLC kicks in. Sure, in my case and the case of every other reviewer, the DLC came free – so I was buzzing around in the kind of Lancia Stratos you can only pay for within moments of booting up, but that’s the perks.
How does each of the range of vehicles handle in the range of environments and race types? How the hell would you know? That’s why you’re reading this. I can’t vouchsafe that each and every single one of them handles well enough to have the occasional prang but the rest of the time have a good chance of winning - or at least placing against friends or AI - but the ones I've driven do. The ones I’ve driven in my several or more hours of play handled about the same as they did in diRT 2 and in some cases better.
Yes, there are tweaks that you can make to gear ratios and ride-heights and braking, but these are on a small scale . While enough to make you – or me – feel that we’ve got under the bonnet, such tweaking as you can do take about 30 seconds before you’re back and running and congratulating yourself. It’s my-level tweaking, and I imagine mostly cosmetic. But if you want the big stuff, go and get a simulator.
Because this is, for the most part, fun. And good fun at that.
What makes it fun if you’re not the sort who wants to take on the kind of people you wouldn’t invite to the pub but would buddy up to online, is the AI. I would like to see the AI from dIrT 3 take on the AI from MötöStörm Pacific Rift because it would be a bloody, vicious and hilarious no-holds-barred battle to the death. I love the AI in dIrt 3 like they were my own family. Yes, you can tweak them too… just a little. But I’d propose that once you’ve gymkhana’d a bit to get the feeling of your chosen vehicles, that you crank the AI up to ‘Really as angry and annoying as a kid on Xbox Live’ and let rip. I promise you won’t regret it.
The introduction of Ken Block and his revved up ponies and annoying mates is a very, very clever and very enjoyable addition to the franchise. It does make the third iteration worth buying and enjoying. It does make you look differently at the way your cars handle. It is far, far more interesting and drivey than anything from Top Gear that was crankhandled into GT5. Aside from that and the much appreciated change of interface, there’s much of the same middle-ground driving game that DiRT 2 offered. Overall, I’d say, yes, if you enjoy a well made, well intentioned driving game that also enables two-player, local multiplayer on console and doesn’t require you to be hooked into Autolog-type ‘social’ nexus, then DiRT 3 is the one for you. Well done Codies.
SPOnG Score: 85%
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Closing date:19 Jun 2013