The days of arcade racing, where the brake button was to be avoided at all costs and taking your finger from the accelerator for a split second could mean defeat, seem to have faded into the distant past. Today driving games seem to encroach more into the realm of driving simulations, with photo-realistic graphics and physics engines that replicate reality. The latest rally game from Codemasters, in tribute to the late Colin McRae, is certainly no exception to this new rule. DiRT 2 promises an experience that will transport you to rally stages around the globe for a taste of what life is like in the driving seat.
Just as you couldn’t expect to jump from your everyday road car into a rally-spec Mitsubishi Evo without some nasty consequences, so it is in the game. Take to the controls the first time and you’re likely to be shocked at how easy it is to spin, crash and generally lose control of your vehicle of choice. And just when you thought you had mastered the one car, the second you enter another your hard work may be instantly vanquished because in DiRT 2 every car handles completely differently. While many titles have boasted such a feat before it really is noticeable within this offering to the market, increasing the gameplay lifespan of the game dramatically.
It’s not just the cars that will shake up your experience though; different surfaces could also cause havoc. The incredibly physics engine will have you sliding sideways on a muddy track, a sharp contrast to the grip that you’ll discover when racing on tarmac. This makes for an experience that feels real and that is likely to take even veterans of rally driving games by surprise.
Don’t be instantly put off with the thought of a game that will be too difficult however. While DiRT 2 will certainly take some time to master, once you get to the point of expertise you will find the sharp and responsive controls a huge bonus and a consistent challenge.
Different game modes help to keep this title fresh, with a lengthy career mode for a racing game featuring five individual types of racing. If you are looking for a game that is solely focused on a hardcore rally driving experience then you may well be disappointed, as this only actually makes up one fifth of the career mode. Codemasters have concentrated on reaching a wide audience rather than a select few, so while the rally driving sequences may feel too short you’ll never run the risk of being bogged down in them.
If you get bored of the racing simulation feel of the career mode there is some arcade functionality to keep you entertained for many hours. The arcade modes are excellent fun, especially when it comes to online multiplayer gaming. There’s something more thrilling about being able to compete head to head with your opponents, instead of purely through a timed rally stage.
DiRT 2 has everything that an off-road racing game should have and more. The controls are fine-tuned to perfection, the graphics are breathtaking and the gameplay is diverse enough to hold any attention span for hours. While rally driving fans may feel scorned at the lack of traditional rally driving, many others will be incredibly satisfied at the different modes, opening the title to the masses in a fitting tribute to the late legend, Colin McRae.