Reviews// DiRT 3

Posted 20 May 2011 17:09 by
Games: DiRT 3
Farewell then Colin McRae. The rallying legend has been relegated from embellishing the front of pack and game title in DiRT 3 to a car within the game. Replacing the much mourned racing star as the man to aspire to is Ken Block and his acceptably controlled hooning with the introduction of the gymkhana event.

Let me get Ken and his over-branded brand of car-porn over with up-front as it’s, frankly the only major addition to what is a rip-snorter of a driving title. Yes, DiRT 3 sits happily between the late, lamented Blur – I lament it – or Hot Pursuit and the pro-anal GT 5 or more interesting Forza 3.

Ken Block is the kind of chap who apparently surrounds himself with pals who say things like, “That’s a smokin’, mega-awesome stoker of a dude-smash my amigo” and mean it. That’s not to say that Ken is not a thoroughly rounded personality. He may well be, I neither know nor care what goes on in his airheaded pals’ minds, I just wish they’d shut up with their inane jabbering during the game.

Specifically during the ‘gymkhana’ sessions. Yes, I thought that gymkhanas were events in which wealthy, strapping girls called Charlie and Pippa canter fat little ponies called ‘Mr Chuffley’ or ‘Podger St Monroe’ around fields in Warwickshire (home of Codemasters) in order to attract minor Royals, then to pin rosettes on either said fat ponies or dull princelettes.

No! In Ken Block’s gymkhana there are no ponies, princes or Pippas, during these events you must tightly control your choice of branded vehicle into drifts, spins, donuts (spins again but this time called donuts), cardboard block busting and achieving ‘air’ by jumping across, over and onto things.

It’s not what I call driving, but then again I don’t call anybody “my amigo”. It is, however, far more technical than the sorely lacking in info tutorials would lead you to believe. The tutorials, to misquote Ken and Co “Suck the big one, my amigo!”

Fortunately, the gymkhana event itself doesn’t. It deserves to be included in this all-round driving package. Despite its initial aura of “Do anything! Go wild” you’re soon made very aware that you’ve got to be in close control of your car. No matter how good you think you are, I’d suggest not trying it with manual gear changes to get started.

The gymkhana (I still think that requires and upper-cased ‘G’) is challenging from the get-go. This is not always true of the range of races and other events open to you in both single-player (including the DRiFT Tour) or the multiplayer. On the latter – all praise to Codemasters for including the absolutely essential split-screen, two-player option. I say “absolutely essential” because without the ability to come back from the pub with your mates and fire-up some local MP rather than being forced online to play people who you would never invite to the pub let alone back to your own home, it is not a car-racing game.

The multiplayer online is, of course, involved. So, if you really feel the need to see yourself ranked as 102,112,331 in the world for racing the Smelter, you certainly can. Talking of online, you can even upload virtual shots of yourself to YouTube (as you are advised to every time you place better than last).

In Your Interface
If I remember correctly, and I do because I’ve just gone and played it again, the interface on DIrt 2 was possibly one of the more annoying interfaces on any racing game I’ve ever played. I exclude the pre-20th Century interface for GT5 out of some sort of respect for the archaeological past. There it sat, pretending that I had racing mates and my own trailer with a map that I was capable of reading. It was trying that most direly tedious of all things (as perfected in Test Drive Unlimited 2): to make me feel sociable when what I really wanted to do was to feel as if I was racing cars I could never afford in environments I am too shy to venture into.
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Games: DiRT 3

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