DiRT 3 Review
If there’s one racing franchise that rivals Gran Turismo in regards to consistent quality, it’s the DiRT series by Codemasters. These games seem to get better and better with each passing year and while the third installment really didn’t need announcers and we could’ve used more garage options, it’s still an excellent production. Featuring great technical elements, tight and responsive control, a slick presentation, and a ton of engaging and distinct events, DiRT 3 will last you a very long time. Although the lack of a PlayStation Store impacted online play (the Online Pass issue), this one is back to full strength on all platforms and just begs to be played. It’ll take discipline to conquer this diverse challenge!
As you might expect, the game excels in the graphics department. The environmental effects are downright amazing in some respects; everything from sunlight streaming in through your windshield to snowflakes whipping by your charging vehicle looks sharp and realistic. The developers even took another step by implementing pleasant ambient additions, like pedestrians ringing a track and the accumulation of mud and snow on your car during the course of a race. In short, just about everything gels together to form a cohesive, accomplished visual presentation, which continually bolsters the experience. It’s all about going that extra mile – forgive the pun – and despite a few small shortcomings (detail and crispness can be found lacking in some areas), DiRT 3 looks fantastic.
The audio is almost as good, as the race effects are almost perfect. Driving on any surface and in any weather sounds exactly as it should, the engine emanations are just about right (regardless of make and model), and perhaps above all else, the sound of an impact will leave you breathless. I wanted to avoid collisions – with either walls or other racers – primarily because the resulting sound is just…nasty. The soundtrack is good, too, as there are nice selections to accompany your driving and the music never gets in the way. Overall, the sound balance is great throughout and the only flaw comes from the voice acting. I’m still not sure it was necessary and unfortunately, it’s just plain mediocre.
This game is full of cosmetic variety, what with various event locations all around the world, the addition of all sorts of weather conditions, and no less than six disciplines to master. Codemasters really tried to think of everything, from the windshield wipers in the rain to how a car reacts when sliding in the snow, so all races and events require your utmost attention to detail. Boasting more than twice the track content of its predecessor and over 50 Rally cars, we’ll take our skills to several different continents as a professional driver. Then we’ve got the Gymkhana style events that demand pinpoint accuracy and, although often a little silly, offer players a cool change of pace.
No racer gets very far without great control and thankfully, DiRT 3 succeeds beautifully. Everything feels tight and accurate and all those weather and track conditions aren’t just for show; you really need to be aware of your surroundings and adjust accordingly. Furthermore, it’s a simulator with a distinct feeling of accessibility so the uninitiated can still learn quickly and become immersed in a deep driving experience. It’ll take some practice to adapt to nighttime racing and skidding around on wet tracks but strangely, one never feels overwhelmed. In some ways, Gran Turismo is a little prohibitive due to its intense focus on realism and authenticity and while DiRT 3 also strives for a lifelike sim, it’s more forgiving. The difficulty also strikes a good balance; most all events are challenging but not overly difficult, and the AI – while not excellent – is plenty competent.
And the number of events is just nuts. For all you Rally aficionados who were worried that the branching out would cause this franchise to lose its focus, have no fear: Rally remains the highlight. The main tour has four seasons complete with six tours focusing on a particular discipline; there are plenty of different locations, beautifully designed tracks, and overall, the longevity is almost unparalleled. I do have one major issue with the game that forces me to knock the production back a few notches; it involves the accumulation of new cars. Rather than spending money on new rides, fresh acquisitions are automatically delivered, which means my collection is loaded with cars I didn’t actually pick. That’s annoying.
Furthermore, you’ll almost always have to use the new cars because they give you the best driving bonuses, so you can’t really stick with a few favorites for any period of time. This really impacts the entertainment factor in my eyes because most racing fans love the cars ; they’re car people. They love picking and choosing new sets of wheels and fiddling with every minute detail. You can still fiddle in this game, but even that feels a touch limited and there’s just a total lack of freedom when it comes to the progression of your garage. That being said, I imagine some racing fans won’t care so much and will be happy with the superb gameplay.
The online option shines as well; we get more options and the driving versions of multiplayer classics like Capture the Flag are awesome. There are tag-based events along with the standard time trials and races, a cockpit view in hardcore mode, and even Gymkhana joins the online fun. I experienced a wee bit of lag here and there but besides that, going online is just as solid and enjoyable as going through the single-player tours. When all is said and done, DiRT 3 is a robust, in-depth and almost sparkling package that is immensely appealing to racing fans of all kinds. The realism combined with great accessibility is quite possibly the biggest draw.
The Good: Beautiful visuals and extra detail. Sound effects are fantastic. Reliable and accurate control. A ton of diverse events. Accessibility for a wide audience. Online play is great.
The Bad: Voices are lacking and maybe unnecessary. Some events can get tiring. Lack of choice in car collecting.
The Ugly: “Damnit, I didn’t really want that car…”
One of my favorite racing games of all time. So glad they went back to the rally racing as the main highlight of the game. Dirt 1 still holds a place in my heart as the best rally racing game around though.
Yeah, I'll be picking this game up at some point for sure. I've got a copy of DiRT 2 autographed by Ken Block that I enjoy playing.
Incidentally, a friend told me about the Michigan stages. I attend school Michigan Technological University in Houghton, the heart of the Copper Country. The Michigan stages in this game are indeed heavily inspired by real Lake Superior Pro Rally stages in the area, (though none of them actually drive through the ruins of Quincy Mine.) I wanted to mention that the Mountain Drive stage is nearly identical to the road on Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor at some points, if anyone was interested in touring the real road at some point (or race it, if you have the money and experience to actually enter LSPR.)
I'm glad they included Michigan in this game, because there really are some great roads in the area. And it's REALLY cool to see places you know in a video game.
Last edited by 556pineapple on 6/2/2011 11:13:48 PM
It seems another great effort from Codemasters. It is good to see that technically they are squeezing more out of the EGO engine - and for a multi-platform technology base that is great news.
It shows again, if you mix talent with effort you are likely to get a good result, with good sales to boot making it all worth the while for the development crew.
I used to own Dirt 1 but sold it off. I am looking at possibly getting Dirt 3 when the price is reduced later on.
Hats off to Codies for another good title...
I loved Dirt 2...loved it more than GT5, though GT5 stayed in my disc drive for many months longer than Dirt 2. Dirt 2 got old fast and I ended up trading it in towards something else. Dirt 3 is a purchase sometime this summer. But I'm pretty sure the solo career in Dirt 3 is better than GT5's because imo Dirt 2 solo career was better than GT5's. Codemasters seems to make games with solid A.I. and unpredictable yet manageable races. I loved Grid, I loved Dirt 2. Dirt 3 seems like another hit that will go underappreciated by the average gamer.
Of course, thats why GT5 still gets rotation in my PS3 and Dirt 2 is gone. Rememer I told you how the races in GT5 amounted to just reaching first place without little opposition and winning. Well Dirt 2 had some very entertaining races and the game does take some skill to master. Even though GT5 has a million cars to choose from and infinite replay value due to tweaking, the races for the most part left me wanting more excitement and challenge as far as opposition goes. Dirt 2 was perfect at that, but its only downfall was repetitive tracks and repetitive events.
Tuning is great an all, but great races are better and thats why I loved Codemasters work more than what GT5 gave me if you want to compare A.I. competition and races. And tweaking has nothing to do with GT5's overall racing career which for the most part is structured very oddly and poorly in my opinion. Dirt 2's structure was paced very well. I know simulation fans hate hearing this, but somewhere...there are better racers than GT5 from a racing standpoint and imo most come from Codemasters...just my opinion.
This game is so awesome! Yesterday I finally redeemed the VIP pass so I could play on-line. This game series is gonna take years away from my life. Have 100+ hours in DiRT1, 100+ hours in DiRT2 and already 20+ hours in DiRT3.
If you play the game on difficulty level 5 or 6, Interior view, HUD off, all driving assistance off then the game is challenging. It is downright difficult!
But playing it hardcore makes the game so much more fun.
You wanna play serious competitive hardcore? Then add me: "Legacy_of_BD"
Last edited by Bjorn77 on 6/3/2011 2:14:36 AM
picked this up the other day for my PC, but have not had a chance to play it yet my 360 and limbo, supermeat boy and shadow complex have kept me busy.
sooooooooooooooooooooooo excited finally got my DNF demo code!
13 years of pain staking waiting is almost over!!!!!!!
the second coming is nigh...... all hail his holiness the duke!
I have a question about Dirt 3.
I love rally and have loved rally games for years but even if you say that rally is a big part of Dirt 3 and that it has doubled the number of tracks, what I cannot find in any recent rally games is some real rally stages. Not a 40sec or even 2 miutes but real stages that last 10 or 20 minutes and make you work hard to get to the finish.
I have only been dissapointed with last gen rally games. Short stages is not rally. Basically, I'd like to have the real events. Is it anywhere close to this?
Sorry, not really. You can find a few examples of such hardcore racing in GT5 but even there, it has to be tempered (and is only available in the last set of extremely difficult events), because...well, nobody would want to play it. Many wouldn't even be able to play it.
As I say in the review, DiRT 3 is a nice combination of simulation and accessibility, but as for real Rally events of 20 to 40 minutes...no.
And Codemaster's is going to do something totally awesome with their first DLC pack too.....
Dirt 3's DLC money is going to charity
Codemasters has announced the first of their weekly DLC offerings for Dirt 3.
The 1st DLC is called the "Colin McRae Vision Charity Pack", to honor the man who lent his name to rally games for Codemasters in the past.
The Colin McRae Vision Charity Pack features the Ford Escort Mk II, the 1970s Rally car used by the race car driver, plus five liveries.
This pack will cost $2 and "all of the money will go to charity".