DiRT 2 marks an interesting step for the Colin McRae franchise as it tries to entice the American audience to rally. How have they tried to do this? Well for a start the main menu is neon green, the soundtrack features loud American punk bands (plus some English) and even X-Games events. It also features well known American drivers such as Ken Block, Travis Pastrana and err… Katie Justice?
The main menu is unique in that its a trailer park and you move around in to select different options (don’t worry you don’t have to walk there like home) I think it’ll work well when you are working through your career and you gain more furniture etc but it can be a little long winded to navigate.
The demo features 2 modes; Land Rush and Trail Blazer, I first dipped into the Land Rush mode, which is straight up racing in trucks. There was only one choice of truck (a Stukka TT) and the race lasts 2 laps. 2 intense laps. During the race other drivers react to you so be prepared to hear them tell you to watch out and question what you’re doing… The racing is fun though and features the flashback function from GRiD, this means at anytime you can call up an instant replay and restart from that point in the race. handy for avoiding my barrel roll on the last corner. I ended up second just behind Dave Mirra, and Travis assures me that its a good result (he came 4th).
I next tried the Trail Blazer mode, now this was much more fun. Again there’s only one choice of car, a Mitsubishi GTO. this mode is like a traditional Rally in that you’re racing other times but you’re all on the track at the same time. Taking staggered starts meaning if you’re doing well you can catch and overtake the other drivers. I throughly enjoyed the driving physics allowing to slide comfortably around the corners at speed but not making it too easy and won this comfortably (on the default difficulty). John Harrison told me I “pulled it out of the bag”.
If you thought that was all the demo had to offer then you’re in for a treat, it also features multiplayer allowing you to race to 2 previously mentioned events but with other people from around the world. Land Rush is as you expect – all about ramming each other off the road but Trail blazer works by everyone being ghost cars so there’s no taking out your opponents but you still all race at the same time. It works well and I enjoyed that the most too. There appears to be a leveling up system in multiplayer too, I’m not sure how this works but its nice to know there is an incentive to race in the full version.
The demo in the end left a good impression, the handling is brilliant and the crash damage satisfying, there are still many modes and cars locked that are in the full game and if the career mode is engaging then this could be another quality racing title from Codemasters. Whether DiRT 2 can win over the US audience with its flashy presentation and more exciting races without alienating its core European audience remains to be seen though.
Written by: Trev
- Contributing Editor