As with any sport that has exposure and excitement, there have been a good number of games about it. One of the most successful franchises in the genre is the Colin McRae Rally series, which sprouts 9 titles for different platforms over 13 years. However, of those, the first games dealt exclusively with rallying, while lately there has been a small deviation from that into more off-road, x-games, etc. style. So this is the first game in the series to not have the McRae name attached to it. It is simply called Dirt 3 and it just hit the shelves, and I’ve been playing around with it.
Right off the bat Codemasters' style is unmistakable in this title. They have not moved away much from the sort of menus and presentation that has been the standard since their Race Driver: GRID. At first run you’re asked to create your driver, choose your nationality and your nick name from a list of available male, female or ‘nicknames’. I chose Flash, not really sure why since no one is calling me by my name, then chose my difficulty as intermediate and went on.
Doesn't take too long before you're on your first event. I chose rally in Finland cos that's really what I was looking forward to. It had been promised that this title would stop being so much about off roading and trucks, and more about rallying.
My wheel was easily configured and was working perfectly right from the start (you hear that, Shift 2?). Came in second in my very first event so I decided to up the difficulty for the following ones, I didn't just want to breeze by them easily.
|Hello, tree, mind if we have a talk?|
Fun was something that was not missing at all, in fact, I’m enjoying this title a lot more than the previous two. There are a number of events, some coming back like Rally Cross, Trail Blazer and Land Rush, while others are new, like Drift events and more notably the inclusion Gymkhana, the hot new type of motorsport popularized by Ken Block in YouTube.
Let Top Gear explain what it is for me
I have to admit I had a lot of reservation regarding the addition of this type of events mainly because it's a very flamboyant, spectacle crazy sport where cars are encouraged to spin, slide, twist and turn, which is by itself very tricky inside a real car where drivers can have a feel of where a sliding car is going thanks to the G-forces felt and actually being able to look out the window, while a gamer can only look forward and can't feel a thing other than what his wheel is feeding him if he's so lucky as to have a force feedback set up.
The people at Codemasters must have thought about this too and made Gymkhana a little bit easier for us. The cars slide and spin like it was nothing, it's actually pretty easy to achieve a silver medal right away in the events and get full marks at the third try or so. I have to admit it’s a lot of fun, though.
If the huge event variety (and locations) wasn't enough we are also presented with a lot of cars to choose from. Different makes and models are to be expected, but we also get the choice to take part in classic cars sometimes. It’s so much fun throwing a Mini Cooper from the '60s or a '70s Opel Kadett.
|Classic British Cheekiness - the Mini|
Adding to that, we get to drive some trucks, buggies, and, while I haven’t reached this part yet, we get to taste Group B cars. For those unfamiliar with Rallying, I’ll just quote Wikipedia:
The Group B regulations fostered some of the quickest, most powerful and sophisticated rally cars ever built. However, a series of major accidents, some fatal, were blamed on their outright speed. The short-lived Group B era has acquired legendary status among rally fans.
Talking about more technical aspects of the games one has to say that the graphics are up for the task, being an upgraded yet not revolutionized Ego Engine as used in the previous titles. The textures and car models are absolutely spot on, making the whole atmosphere very enjoyable and the tracks look just brilliant. I'm sure if I had a bigger screen and 3-D glasses I'd be completely convinced I was in the real thing, fact aided by very well done and realistic sound. You can even hear people cheering or talking about your performance if you listen close enough.
There are a few things to remark as shortfalls.
I don't think this title will cater to die-hard simulation fans. It's quite stimulating, realistic and complex; however it still has that smell of being a game and not a simulation. With all aids off and the difficulty set to max however it should still prove a decent challenge for those looking for it.
One thing that annoys me is the inability to skip videos or people talking about crap you really don't care about. And sometimes they can go on and on about how well you're doing and that we're gonna have opportunities like going to the summer X-Games, yadda yadda, bla bla, let me play already!
All in all it's a great addition to the series and I'm sure everyone who has the minimum interest in cars and racing will enjoy it, and for those who don't, there's always Hello Kitty Island Adventure.