It seems good driving games on the 360 are like buses. We wait ages for one and then we get two in quick succession. One week it was Forza 2 and a week later we get Colin McRae Dirt.
Fans of the previous McRae games will not be disappointed. The game play is the usual face paced, driving on the edge your seat excitement that fans have come to expect. Graphically the game is jaw dropping. To say it is the best looking driving game on the 360 is a serious understatement. I believe it is one the best looking games of any genre available on the 360. The level of detail has to be seen to be believed. Even in the multi-car races there is not much of a drop in quality when compared to the single car rally stages.
The biggest gripe with the game is the Americanisation of it. I have nothing against the Americans but hearing an American accent giving the pace notes and then shouting "yeah dude you won the race" at the end of most races is not what we would expect from a McRae game. Why the developers did not use Nicky Grist again is anyone's guess.
A quick mention must go to the menu system which is the best I have ever seen. Now I know this seems overly geeky, and that a menu is not normally mentioned in a review, but this particular one is great. It seems to "float" in the air and when moving from one sub menu to another it just looks brilliant and really adds to the excitement of the whole experience.
Dirt offers a vastly different, but no less rewarding experience to Forza 2, and it would be impossible to say which is best. If you have got the cash then I would recommend both but if I was forced at gunpoint to choose a winner then I would have to go with Dirt., no Forza 2, no Dirt, no Forza 2.........oh I can't decide, I guess Ill just take that bullet!
on 25 June 2007
I have been following this release with eager anticipation and having got my hands on the game last week, I was looking forward to an extremely solid addition to the Mcrae series. What I actually received was not quite as expected; it's a great looking game, it's long, the difficulty levels are just right, the menus are out of this world and the variety of events is quite astounding, but there are a few things that take away from that perfect score.
One important note that I will deal with initially is the fact that the game has become more arcade orientated, and away from the sim feel of the previous games. Oddly though, this seems to have happened in only a couple of areas, braking and how the car appears to handle from the rear view. One thing I'm still trying to get used to is the arcade style brakes - i.e. 60MPH to 0 in about 10 yards on gravel. This is a massive change from previous games, and will take you a while to get used to. Once you have though, you'll adapt your driving style and realise you can be more aggressive than previously; leave it too late, and you will lock up and fly off into the nearest tree.
Although some have mentioned the "floating" feel of the cars, this does seem to be a problem with the "chase" view behind the car. It's hard to describe, but it almost feels as though the car is pivoting from the incorrect point, and it reminds me more of the V-Rally style of play. When using the quite fantastic in car views of helmet cam or the traditional steering cam, it is as intense and realistic as it has always been, barring the brakes. The cars do seem to bite less on the surface, but even though you would expect this to take away from the enjoyment of the game, it seems to me that after a few more hours of playing, the developers have actually nailed the characteristics of the cars pretty well. Understeer is now more marked in FWD for example than it had been previously.
Away from the slightly more negative aspects, the game really excells in many areas. I've found that the difficulty settings are top notch - each race on Career (and there are many of them) can be raced at 5 different levels, from Rookie to Pro, with prize money available according to the difficulty level. With this, you can purchase new cars and liveries, the ranges of which have been expanded exponentially from previous games. This is a hugely welcome addition and with 46 cars to choose from, all handling, looking and sounding different, you do have an incentive to gain those credits.
In Pro mode, as an experienced racing game fanatic, I am pleased to say that this really does represent a stiff challenge. I find on most point to point rally events, you have to put a near perfect run together to win by a matter of 2-3 seconds. The tweaks you can make to the set up do have a marked effect on how the car handles, and will help beat some of the Pro times more easily, but you will often find that the margin of victory is very tight, and almost impossible to come by without tweaks on many of the group racing events, or direct competition, such as crossover (a la rally special stages).
The damage modelling is absolutely superb, and again varies with difficulty level in terms of how terminal clipping that rock will be for your car. Get it slightly wrong, and you'll still have the satisfying barrel roll and a crumpled mess to drive. Smashed glass, twisted metal are all superbly rendered along with the rest of the games' stunning visuals.
The variety of events is huge, and the tracks vary in length and difficulty, form the twisting tarmac of Corsica, to the deserts of Australia as ever in the Mcrae games. The visuals are truly a delight to behold, and unlike any other game before it, I've found myself watching several of my replays in awe of the detail. With variety of events and tracks, along with the difficulty, the game should hold lasting appeal for many. The pacing is good, and career mode is varied enough to keep it interesting and there's always the option to take on single events or championships seperately.
However, there are a couple of points which have taken away the authentic feel of the Mcrae series. The first is the most annoying addition - one mentioned before in many reviews - and this is the addition of X-Games Travis Pastrana and his American pals in the co-driver seat. Initially, you do get the inane end race/menu quotes "We were the best because we were the fastest" and "Wow dude we won, I'm soooo stoked" (which have to be laughed at because they're so ridiculous) however these can be largely ignored as they don't break the game.
What does annoy me is the Americanisation of the co-driver. This really is something that has frustrated me - I don't personally feel that the Colin Mcrae brand should be on here at all, as the only appearance he gets is by name as one of the opposition in some of the rally events. Poor old Nicky Grist must be wondering what he did to deserve being cast out - perhaps he knew more about it than we did!
I also find the truck racing/buggies etc a little gimmicky, but they are implemented better than any other attempt of its type. That's a matter of personal preference. I have heard that the online experience is also limited, with a lack of voice comm and no way to see other players, but I am not taking it inot account in the review as I have not experienced this first hand.
Despite these negatives, there's just something that makes me keep coming back - it's a really enjoyable game - hard enough to keep it interesting; fun so that you can pick it up and have a blast at any time. I know some elements are missing from your true sim experience, but the variety of events, stunning visuals and challenge keep me coming back for more.
In summary then:
+ Stunning visuals
+ Great variety of tracks, events and cars
+ Impeccable damage modelling
+ Varied difficulty
- Slightly more arcade like than previous installments
- Americanisation of the co-driver/commentary
Overall, not perfect, but a whole heap of fun!
on 17 June 2007
I have played demos of all the previous Colin Mcrae titles over the years, on PC and then later on Xbox, and although I can appreciate why people liked them, I was never really a convert. I prefered the World Rally Championship series on PS2 or Rallisport Challenge and V Rally 3 on Xbox, I always found the colin Mcrae rally games too hard to beat the ai and not enough feel in driving the cars.
After seeing screenshots and the new vast amount of off road vehicle types in Dirt, I downloaded the demo and I was very impressed, now after playing the full game I can say that for me, this is the best Colin Mcrae game so far and an incredible game to play on the 360
The first thing you'll have noticed is the graphics, I'd say they are the best I've ever seen, the quality does seem to vary, but drive any of the Australian rally tracks and I swear you will be in awe, they are without question the most realistic looking visuals i've ever seen in a video game, as long as you are moving and not stationary, it looks just like real life, this is the ony time I've ever thought that when playing a video or pc game.
But it's not just the graphics that look good, the games menu's are nice, and quite unique in their presentation, makes a change from the usual type.
The game offers a career mode that in truth is not a career, and is just a pyramid of 11 tiers of races or tracks for you to unlock to open tracks, win cars and win prize money to buy more cars, although you can buy bonus code unlocks from codemasters to unlock the whole games contents if you wish.
So if you don't consider that proper rallying which I don't, then there is a proper Championship mode to race in 6 countries; Uk, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan & Australia.
What I really like about Dirt is that it gives you 5 difficutly levels to choose from, and unlike previous games that I found, from the demos at least; were too hard, in this the settings are varied enough for any level of driver, so if you are a 'pick up and play just once' kind of gamer, or someone who plays for weeks and needs a stiff challenge, the 5 difficulty levels here will suit just about everyone.
The handling still isn't terribly realistic, but it does the job, after playing Forza 2 for the past week, playing this I could definitely tell the difference, Codemasters need to work on this part of the game, while I'm not saying it should be made so realistic it becomes difficult, you should at least get a little sliding and be able to feel the loss of traction and skidding through your steering the way you can with Forza 2.
What I liked about Dirt was the variety of vehicles they have now, it reminded me of Motorstorm, you have big rigs, Buggies and the like, and all with the most detailed dashboard views I've seen in a console game.
Multiplayer on Xbox live is great, it's quite unique in that you can race as many as 30 odd people at the same time, but of course you are the only vehicle on the track, so you are constantly looking at the leaderboard to see your place moving up and down against the other players, this is quite a lot of fun as you just can't see the other players like in regular racing.
Well, after Dirt, I am a convert to Colin Mcrae titles in the future providing Codemasters keep making them just like this, and if you have never considered the Mcrae titles before maybe you should give it a go and see what you think, you might just love it.
on 14 December 2007
I had the demo of DiRT as soon as it was available, because through my childhood I spent relentless hours at the hands of a PlayStation 2 controller playing my old favourite: Colin McRae Rally 2. I always preferred it to any of the sequels that followed. It seemed to have something the others didn't...
Then when I heard that a sequel was coming to the Xbox 360 I was very excited. After I'd played the demo for about six hours, I was even more excited.
The fantastic thing that DiRT has to offer is the variety of race-types. Pretty much every off-road/rally event you can think of is available to play in the game.
Career mode is at the heart of Colin McRae DiRT. You are presented with eleven tiers, each one with a certain number of championships, each with a number of races/events. When you begin, championships usually consist of no more than a single race, but the tiers are stacked up like a 'pyramid,' so every time you advance a tier, there is one less championship to complete, but each championship will be harder and deeper.
The various different race modes available include the traditional "Rally" where you have a co-driver providing you with stage-information; "Crossover" deriving from the 'Super Special Stages' found in Rally events, where you race head-to-head around a dual-lane circuit; "Rallycross" events are European-based races around circuits where you are up against many other drivers; "CORR" or "Championship Off-Road Racing" races have you racing in buggies around a short track against other competition; "Hill Climb" is similar to "Rally," but you race uphill in 850hp monsters.
"Championship" mode theoretically works similarly to the career. You race every Rally stage from every country. There are three different championships, "European" (Great Britain, Italy, Germany), "International" (Japan, Australia, Spain) and "Global" which combines all into one Championship. You've got access to most car classes, meaning you can take your pick from the many vehicles you can unlock in career mode.
The different difficulties are good: the easiest three can be done by pretty much anyone. "Pro Am" is more difficult and requires more skill, and "Pro" can be very tricky to a novice.
Other game modes include "Rally World" which is basically a 'free' stand-alone game mode where you can race any stage with any vehicle. And "Multiplayer" lets you play Xbox LIVE and System Link games against other racers. The Xbox LIVE feature is a good one if you have a poor internet connection - there's no lag. Ever. You race at the same time as all the other drivers, and it informs you of all the drivers' times. It is, however, quite limited, as you can only do Rally's and Hill Climbs in the Ranked mode.
Overall, the game plays incredibly. The graphics are stunning, and so are the environments. You can take your pick out of many different camera angles: include an incredible 'first person' one that lets you see as the driver would. There's a lot of depth: it took me more than fifteen hours to just complete the career (about nine hours of actual driving time) and I completed the Championships in about five or so hours. It is a truly fantastic game. Though there are one or two things that would have made it a "10 out of 10":
- there are not enough Rally stages: I want to see Sweden, Corsica, Argentina, etc...
- a split-screen multiplayer would have been great.
- Xbox LIVE is a bit limited too.
Otherwise, the game is brilliant, and a must to any racing fan.
And R.I.P. Colin McRae.
on 22 June 2007
Colin Mcrae Dirt is another fantastic addition to the awesome rally series by Codemasters. The graphics are superb as you would expect for a next gen game. Thankfully, the car handling is very similar to that on Colin o4 & Colin 2005, which even back then was sublime. My dislike is the buggy racing, simply because I prefer the real rally cars, vintage & new. & I tried racing a truck which was awesome, as it had a realistically heavy & slow feel, but despite the lack of speed, the truck is incredible fun to drive. One of the very best features for me is the in car cockpit view. It's the best in car view I have ever seen, & it makes for intense driving & demands total concentration !!!
An essential purchase if you like rally games.
on 12 June 2008
I'm a little disappointed with Codemasters' decision to gradually dumb-down their once sim-orientated games. I understand they are in business and need maximise customers, but why can't we have sim options which can be turned on and off? If they're worried about marketing, they could bury these options in the manual - reviewers would still pick up on them. I remember the great TOCA on PS1, then gradually over the years the games have lost their sim edge. I also cannot stand the Americanism and constant guide voice from an American - this is nothing against America but it just seems so out of context.
Graphics look very good in parts, especially cars, damage, and roadside scenery, but the framerate does suffer quite a bit. It will be interesting to see whether any developers manage to create something with the visuals of this or PGR4, but with 10 or so cars.
Overall, don't let my review put you off if you'd like a friendly, fun rally game with nice physics.
But for me personally, being able to bring a 140mph rally car to an abrupt halt with a simple stamp on the brakes is not quite what I'm after.
on 16 June 2007
DiRT is a great game for people who like their racing games half way between arcade and sim. I found Forza 2 a bit boring, so DiRT was great for me in terms of the handling of the cars. But there are still plenty of tuning options for people who like sim games.
The graphics are fantastic and the presentation of the game is top class. The single player mode is lengthy with a variety of different race types, such as rally, cross-over and buggy races. However apparently the menus can be hard to make out on a small SD TV (luckily I have an HD one!)
The audio is pretty good, with your co-driver giving you instructions during the rally sections and the damage models on the car when they crash are great.
Multiplayer is sorely lacking, as you cant race with other players on the same track at the same time. Instead you compete against each other for the fastest time in a traditional rally mode.
Pros: Graphics, Fun gameplay, Lengthy single player
Cons: Limited multiplayer
If you were repairing a rally car, you wouldn't just polish up the paintwork and drive off without checking under the bonnet, but Codemasters have been doing that with the Colin Mcrae series for years. So here's the shiniest title yet, given an extra spritz of "new car" smell. Try shifting into second gear, though, and the problems start to surface.
The menu system for the game is beautifully designed, the rally cars in this game look great, the graphics are pretty impressive and there is some diversification in the sports on offer that will remind rally enthusiasts of the Rallisport Challenge games. Uphill truck racing, for example, is a blast, but since there's only one uphill track you won't get the chance to do much of it. Still, variety is the spice of life and what's here adds to the sparkle.
Unfortunately, the good news more or less ends there. There's no night driving, no snow driving, no rain or other weather effects, no standing water to drive through and there are too few tracks. The 100-event pyramid that constitutes Career Mode actually features many of the same tracks over and over again. Worse, some of the new motorsports have awful handling and dramatic drops in frame rate when there are multiple cars on the same track. Oh, and the online multiplayer (which could have been a lot of fun had it featured trucks and buggies) is severely limited and looks like an afterthought.
The premature and lamented death of McRae means that this game is presumably likely to be the last in the series; if so, it is a poor testament to his remarkable career. I can't imagine, for example, that he would ever have driven around a track with the co-driver here, whose ludicrous and oft-repeated cries of victory (e.g. "We were the best because we were the fastest!") will have most players grinding their teeth after a few minutes. The game isn't awful (you'll spend the first couple of hours gawping at the graphics and the rally mode is still a lot of fun) but it's poorly thought-out, and adds nothing of real value to the formula.
on 6 June 2007
The first thing you will notice on this game (as im sure youve already heard) is that the graphics realy do look amazing. This is one of the few games that when I play I have the feeling of 'Yes, we are finaly getting true next gen games'!
After a few attempts it became apparent that this was not just a pick up and play game. Yes it is if you just want to hurl your car about and ooo and ahh at the impressive damage models, but if you actualy want to contend this is when the game comes into its own. Personaly I love to race with the drivers perspective, a little harder but more fun and authentic (and the graphics realy do shine in this 1st person view!), and on this game it is amazingly fun. Once you are more accustomed to the 'slip and slide' handling (....unless you prefer tarmac races...!) you can start to push your driving, and your car, to the limits as you powerslide round corners, fight for control along perticulaly bumpy parts of track while always concious of the multiple rocks on the edge of the track.....you realy do get the impression this is the closest to an authentic rally experience on a console you can possibly get. Its fun, fast, and at times quite brutal!
Best moment of the demo for me, as you roll your car in 1st person view. It looks and feels great. I even noticed blades of grass poking through where my windscreen should be for the brief second(s!) I was on my roof. Amazing!
on 10 June 2007
I played this game first with a free DVD with the game on it. My first impression was superb, the graphics are outstaning on a HD tv, and also on a normal widescreen tv. The handling isn't as good and as complex as Forza 2, but the overall game is fun.
I gave it 4 stars for overall as the handling isn't great as it is stil;l a fun arcade rally game. Even playing just the demo, you get to race three different cars on three types of event, and all of the were superb.
Definatley worth a look, order or buy it now!