Dirt Showdown Review


Dirt Showdown wants to be the cool new kid on your gaming shelf. From the opening Labrinth song designed to have you fist pumping and feeling hip, straight down to the constant encouragement for social network interaction, this is modern gaming smacking you right in the face. But is being up with the times Showdown’s saving grace, or will it make you want to buy a brand new cane just to throw it at your television? Honestly, a little from column A and a little from column B.

From Twitter to YouTube, Showdown embellishes the world of online and then some. As soon as you boot up, you will be urged to promote your driving antics to the entirety of the online world. Decline and you will be asked again, and again and again. The prompts can become downright intrusive and tends to toe the line of becoming obnoxious. Believe it or not, I don’t want to spam my social networks with lap times and the constant screens telling me to do so does nothing more than make me contemplate changing titles. I have no doubt that interaction with large online networks are an inevitably within video games, but this is certainly not the way to do it.

All of that aside, the emphasis for Codemasters’ latest iteration in the Dirt franchise has been taken off nailing those perfect runs and hair-pin turns in favour of rough and tumble, arcade styled racing. Releasing the shackles of Dirt’s standard gameplay allows the series to indulge in more outlandish modes that are set to test your skills is all sorts of zany ways. Take the 3123 , setting you a handful of challenges like smashing through barriers, pulling off drifts and donughting around poles, all while trying to finish with a better time than that of your opponent.

Then there are the demolition derbies, waiting to indulge in your thirst for utter carnage. Some will have you taking part in a more traditional slam-a-thons in an attempt to gain the highest points, while the intriguing eight-ball mode throws you into a conveniently number eight shaped course that demands exemplary reactions to avoid accidental take downs from opponents.

You still have the more traditional competitive and eliminator races, but these possess the most frustration and aren’t nearly as enjoyable as your other options. With all this noted, it might appear that Showdown comes filled to the brim with a whole host of events, but start racking up the hours in your quest for racing domination however and the glaring repetition will be hard to ignore. That’s not to say what is on isn’t enjoyable, it just would have been nice to constantly sprinkle in new mechanics and modes rather than rehashing the same core elements.

Outside of standard solo races you have an open world to zoom around and complete missions as well as online multiplayer where you can battle it out or try and dominate the online leader boards. It’s a welcome addition but the game’s attempts at shadowing Need for Speed’s Auto-Log mode simply doesn’t hold the same level of addiction that Criterion managed to foster so well.

Those of you who love tweaking your car every which way (read: Forza) will be slightly disappointed at Showdown’s upgrade system. Each vehicle comes preset with stats ranging from strength to power and handling; all of which can be bettered via the handy pool of cash you build up with each race. That said, boost your car until your little fuel injected heart’s content and you will still feel underpowered. See, Showdown’s AI will match your tinkering and then some, constantly leaving you on the back foot and fighting for a podium finish. What might sound like a clever ploy to keep you battling on though, instead becomes a little frustrating. Ultimately, it makes the whole upgrade system feel a little superfluous. Why should I waste time upgrading my vehicle if I never feel like I can truly dominate on the racetrack? Speed can be spectacular, when you actually feel it.

It’s not all bad news bears however. The presentation is undoubtedly solid, cars and tracks shine and aside from not being as ‘hardcore’ as fans of the series might want, the driving mechanics handle well enough. Plus, Showdown’s soundtrack is one of the first in a while that isn’t completely littered dubstep, which is only ever a good thing.

  • Xbox 360

The Verdict

If you’re a driving fanatic there is a lot to keep you going with Dirt Showdown. It lacks the finer details of the main franchise and its competitors, but those looking for a new gasoline soaked gaming experience should certainly give Codemasters’ spinoff a crack.
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