Dirt 2 (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Friday, October 2, 2009

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 9.00
Gameplay: 9.00
Replays: 9.00
Gamelength: 9.00

Codemasters “Dirt 2” is, without a doubt, one of the best offroad racing games of all-time.

Codemasters struck gold when they released the original “Dirt” back in 2007. Now, they’re back with a sequel that already makes the original game feel completely obsolete. Generally, offroad racing as a video game genre is far less popular when compared to street or simulation racing. That’s typically because of the ridiculous controls that make the offroad racing genre a very difficult one to play. Hard as it may be, this is a game that’s likely to turn many more people into fans of the genre, at least in video game form. So, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get down and dirty as we tour the world in “Dirt 2” for the Xbox 360.

The first “Dirt” was an attractive game, but this time, Codemasters really pulled out all stops. This game is absolutely gorgeous. Vehicles in “Dirt 2” are the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen in an offroad racing video game. From the light and reflections to the shadows and of course, the amazing damage models. The damage models of every single vehicle in this game are so realistic, it looks like a live race via television more than a video game. Not only that, but the track environments are just as beautiful in every way imaginable. Lush foliage in just the right amounts and the occasional photo realistic vistas give “Dirt 2” those jaw-dropping moments that just about every gamer craves.

Starting from the very first loading screen, it’s easy to tell that “Dirt 2” has one hell of a good soundtrack. Even “Little Sister” by Queens of the Stone Age is included! As soon as I heard that, I was rocking out with my headset on, crashing all over the place because I stopped paying attention to the race for a moment. Not only that, but the game is littered with realistic sounds in every which way, even straight down to the basic sound of tires rolling through the dirt.

So, the game is beautiful and it sounds great, but is it fun to play? Well, let me put it to you this way: I’m not a big offroad racing fan, but I really had fun during my time playing this game. That’s not to say that this game is without flaw, though. While the controls are very responsive, this is as real as it gets when it comes to offroad racing, which means that it’s very difficult to control the vehicles in most cases. Even on the easiest setting, “Dirt 2” is as difficult to play as “Forza Motorsport 2” with the settings jacked up. Aside from that, there’s not really a problem in sight. The online play is lagless, there’s a ton to do and the vehicles are plentiful and highly fun to tinker with. The interface is awesome, using a realistic design that seems to be unique to the series. Rather than using a standard menu interface, the game places you in character. You see the world through your driver’s eyes. If you look to the left while outside of your trailer, you’ll see your current vehicle. If you look to the right, you’ll see News. There’s plenty more, but the most important part of this interface is the trailer. If you go inside, you’ll find the posters for the X-Games races, as well as the career map, which has your races laid out in front of you, marked all over the place on a world map. It’s totally awesome and farther enhances the immersion of an already hyper realistic game. The races themselves vary from classic Rally races to Raid type races and virtually every other type of official offroad racing that you can imagine, including 1v1 challenges with big names, such as Dave Mirra and Katie Justice. There are trucks, cars and even buggy vehicles in the game, but the selection is fairly limited, although large for an offroad racing game. Tracks and vehicles are unlocked by completing races, leveling up and in some cases, completing challenges. Challenges are essentially just glorified achievements and require you to do both difficult and simple things over an extended period of time, such as playing the game for a specific period of time overall or pulling off a certain number of big jumps. All told, “Dirt 2” has a seemingly endless amount of content and when it’s all said and done, there’s always Xbox Live. The online play is extremely fun, especially with friends and is completely lag-free. In the case of “Dirt 2”, $60 seems like a bargain.

Overall, Codemasters has come a very long way since the original “Dirt”. I hope to see a “Dirt 3” eventually. If you’re reading this, count my vote in for a sequel!

Pros:
-Beautiful graphics in every possible way.
-Awesome soundtrack provides the perfect blend of punk and rock.
-Tons of variation with different race types.
-Contains some of the biggest names in offroad racing, voices included!
-Online play is fantastic and lag-free.

Cons:
-Vehicle selection is a tad bit lacking.
-For those who are not experienced, the vehicles are difficult to control.
-Difficulty seems too challenging in some respects even on “Easy”.

Bottom line:
If you enjoy offroad racing, put “Dirt 2” at the top of your list. If you’re not necessarily an offroad racing fanatic, this game is still worth a try, but rent it or borrow it first.

Overall Rating: 9.00

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