Collin McRae was a legend among legends. He was one of the most renowned rally drivers in the world until an unfortunate accident in September 2007. But even in death, his legend lives on. Even in the video game world, with the highly successful Colin McRae rally driving series. The gaming series has been giving players the best rally driving experience around since the late 90's, with more than 5 games having been released since the first. This year, we are graced with the first game in the series since McRae's death, DiRT 2. Read on to find out if the game will do both the highly acclaimed series and the unforgettable driver any justice.
When it comes to a racing game, it’s very obvious what is going to be detailed in the Gameplay section; car racing. But with DiRT 2 it’s different. You could write a book about the game without even mentioning the driving. The game has far more going for it than simply great physics and addictive racing action. From the second you boot up the game and lay witness to the 'Press Start' screen, you know this is something special. The look and feel of every menu and title screen is amazing and will have you wanting to stay in the menus and sit around your dynamic caravan-menu instead of racing, which you navigate by walking around to different tables and seats for different menus and racing options, from the DiRT tour map to the car customization table. Not to mention from the first cut scene, you will notice the games great hard-rock soundtrack, which unfortunately doesn't play while racing, meaning you rarely get a chance to listen to it.
But class and menus aside, DiRT gives you access to a range of different rally and off-road cars, all of which can best others in particular situations and race types. Although the game gives you around a mediocre 35 vehicles, given its very long and enjoyable campaign mode, it really isn't enough to keep you satisfied in the garage department compared to other racing games on the market. And even the few cars you can get your hands on, you can’t truly make them our own as there is next to no customization apart from the few little bits and bobs you can hang from your rear view mirror and sit on your dashboard. The only real customization given is the few liveries you can unlock for your vehicles.
Now, back on with the actual games gameplay and racing. Previous Colin McRae games and even the original DiRT were known by all for their realism and difficulty. DiRT 2 takes the series in a new, quite risky, direction, by taking a more Arcady, fun feel. Although this may have upset some of the hardcore fans of the series, it still kept enough difficulty to please all, even the most casual gamers. It blends the realism of off road racing with the enjoyment of a street racing game and it works perfectly, making one of the best racing games this reviewer has ever played. But without a good track to race on, this racing gameplay wouldn't stand for anything. So it’s a good job that DiRT 2 lets you race on some of the most beautiful and well-made tracks in any rally game. The tracks range from tarmac and gravel to dirt, mud and more, and most tracks seamlessly combine together a few of aforementioned road types to create yet more great races, as they all require different skills and speeds to drift and turn the many cuts and corners. DiRT 2 really does give players some of the most unique and replayable racing tracks around, and lets you race them with some of the best racing physics and control ever seen in a game.
Like nearly all games bought out these days, DiRT 2 has its share of multiplayer modes and options to ensure every match feels new and fun. But unlike a lot of games, DiRT 2 is actually extremely fun online. Whether this is because of the amazing tracks and different race types, or its totally lag-free games and great community, it doesn't change the fact that the multiplayer is just as addictive and fun as the games actual campaign. Be warned though, because as like most racing games, the online multiplayer is only for the best of the best. However, despite having a great online mode, DiRT 2 doesn't give what absolutely every racing game should; split-screen multiplayer, which is a major disappointment and downfall.
DiRT 2 may give you loads of enjoyable gameplay and lengthy campaign fun, but that obviously didn't take anything away from the developers putting together the most beautiful, detailed graphics seen on the Xbox 360. And it’s not just the cars that have been given the stunning amount of detail. The tracks and surroundings all look great which adds to the overall feel of the game, as any game is made better with good graphics, especially a racing game. And especially an off-road racing game at that. Every track has loads of detail put into each and every part of it, and the cars are modelled perfectly down to the tyre grip.
Speaking of cars and their detail, Colin McRae games have always been known to feature rather extensive damage modelling, and DiRT 2 is no exception. Every bump and hump can damage your car, some more so than others, and every bit of damage can affect your driving some more so than others, unless of course, you have the damage changed to visual only which ruins some of the fun of it. But fear not, if you get into too bad a crash, you have the ability to do a little rewind of your previous few seconds and choose a 'Replay' point in which to take the wheel from, making sure that when you have just done a few laps of awe inspiring driving, you don't crash and throw it all away.
As mentioned earlier, the game has a great sound track, full of the latest hard rock anthems mellowed out with a few softer tunes, which mixes quite well with the whole rally sport theme. But musical tunes aside, the games engine and car noises are rivalled by absolutely none in terms of realism and pure extravagance. And this claim doesn't come with out some kind of evidence. The noises given out by the engines and cars in the Colin McRae series were recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in the 2009 Gaming Edition, as it has such a substantial number of different and unique sounds allowing for the most realistic sounds out there. The series was also awarded another 5 gaming records, but that's a story for another time. All in all, DiRT 2 is a racing game, and as far as a racing game can go, it has great sound and an amazing sound track, which is pretty much forfeit with Xbox's ability to play your own custom music at any time that tickles your fancies.
If you are rally fan, an off-road fan or any kind of racing fan in general, DiRT 2 is a game that gives every cent you pay right back to you. It is one of the most fun, addictive car games on the market, DiRT 2 is a must have and will give you countless hours of fun with its online multiplayer and huge single player campaign. Now, if only the latest addition in the late and great Colin McRae's series gave you a little more customization and ability to make your cars your very own.
Colin McRae DiRT 2 gives gamers access to a massive single player game combined with fun and simple multiplayer racing action, allowing for hours upon hours of gameplay which never lacks in enjoyment even when you’re losing. It also has amazing graphics and absolutely great tracks to play on. The fun never ends with DiRT 2. Apart from a few small negatives with the game, namely the lack of split screen multiplayer and car customization, DiRT 2 is a perfect example of a legendary racing game, full of class and character, very capable of being racing game of the year.
AAG Score: 9/10
1. Beautiful Graphics
2. Great Gameplay and Physics
3. Nice Soundtrack
4. Well made tracks
5. Fun, lag-free multiplayer
1. No split screen
2. Next to no car customization
Reviewed & Written By John Elliott