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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Codemasters
Developed By: Codemasters
Genre: Racing
Players: 1-8
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Looking back at Codemasters first installment within the DiRT series, you have a quality racer that provided hours upon hours of fun and memorable races, whether you were playing online or offline. With the sequel, the developers took what worked in the first installment and enhanced them to increase the appeal of the title, while also continuing down a path of its own individuality. Do they succeed with their second outing, yes. Continue reading to find out how.

In DiRT 2, you take on the role of an up-and Ėcoming race driver whoís looking to make a name for himself by going up against stiff competition from the likes of Travis Pastrana and Ken Block. This may seem like a daunting task, but with several gameplay features at your disposal, you can end the lengthy career mode as the reigning champion, despite being a novice or a pro at off-road racing games. These gameplay features that keep the gameplay interesting throughout the career mode range from being able to change the difficulty level before each and every race to utilizing the a flashback feature that allows you to replay a portion of the game where made a mistake, costing you time or the win. At the end of the day, there is one thing you can take away from this gaming experience and thatís youíll enjoy every single second of each race.

For some, the first race is usually the hardest one to prepare for. Starting off the career mode, you as a rookie driver are presented with a Subaru Impreza, which belong to the late great Colin McRae. Along with being able to adjust the difficulty level of the game before each race, you are also able to adjust the performance levels of each vehicle. One a scale of 1 to 10, each carís rating level is broken down into three categories: acceleration, top speed and handling. As you win races and earn money, you are able to upgrade these stats via purchasing unique body kits, which are tailored to specific race types. While you will be able to get by your first couple of races without upgrading your vehicles, as you progress into the more challenging races, adjusting only the gameplay settings will put you into the winnerís circle.

Beyond upgrading your vehicles and being able to alter the difficulty level of the game, understanding the handling of each vehicle is vital to a successful race. Whether driving a rally car, trophy truck or a buggy, each vehicle handles differently, thus requiring the player to pay attention to how the vehicle handles jumps, sharp corners and quick maneuvering. Not taking the time to understanding each vehicleís ins and outs can result in your vehicle going off the cliff or possibly into a wall. Luckily for us, Codemasters made sure that the controls are very responsive and that there are the inclusions of flashbacks. While prefer not to use them at all until I play through the game once, they can in fact be a saving grace for those who push the envelope--a la Ridge Racer series--throwing caution to the wind. Whether playing on the easiest difficulty level or the hardest, you have up to 5 flashbacks which are at your disposal anytime during the race. Whenever you need to use a flashback, simply pause the game and initiate the instant replay option to rewind time upwards of 15 seconds for a second chance at success.

Early on within the career mode, you are your only opponent to worry about. The seven other racers on the track tend to be less lax, not having to worry about trading paint or being caught up in one of their accidents on the track. The further you progress through the career mode; the other drivers tend to garner some respect for you as a driver, thus putting up a bit more competition against you. Itís here where you have to worry about your opponents, while trying not to fall off the side of the road yourself. However, whatís interesting about your opponents is when they speak in your regards before a rice, they never seem t badmouth you, even when you ran them off the road in a previous race.

The menu system within DiRT 2 is presented within a first-person setup within the confines of your RV and the area surrounding it. The desk inside your RV has an image of a world map which allows you to pick your next racing event. To your left, thereís a bulletin board which showcases all the multiplayer options that are currently available. And to your right, you will be able to leave the confines of your RV in order to check out your car collection within your garage, purchase new vehicles and other features. The presentation is very intuitive and seamless from one point to the next.

The visual presentation of DiRT 2 is superb, whether playing on a regular TV, HDTV or a Full HDTV. Each and every car has high levels of details on the inside and outside. Depending on whether you set the damage options to simple paint chipping and scratches or actual car damage, everything is presented with high levels of detail and realism. The various environments you encounter across 9 countries are very diverse, and enrich with detail and authenticity. When you punch on the gas, or hit a sharp turn at high speeds, the game makes you feel as if you are actually traveling at such a speed. The framerate is pretty steady, rarely ever dipping below 30fps. Even the menu system was designed with great emphasis on detail and media content, allowing the player to navigate easily to find what information he or she needs. In regards to the in-game audio, the sounds effects emitted from the vehicleís engines and sliding across the ground sounds very realistic. There is also the musical soundtrack that keeps you immersed within the high-energy action of a race when youíre not on the track. You codriver is very convincing in telling you what turns are ahead of you, which is very key in the player not having to look at the mini-map thatís on the screen.

Whatís interesting about the multiplayer experience within DiRT 2 is that practically every event type, track and vehicle from the career mode is made available for online play. That means you and your friends can compete in point-to-point and circuit-based races, or compete in one of several new gameplay modes, diversifying the online experience. An example of this is the Last Man Standing mode where the last-place driver is eliminated every 20 seconds after the first minute has passed. If you are head of the pack, there are no worriers; however for those in last place, you will be eliminated from the race, forcing you to watch how it concludes.

When stacked up against the first installment of the DiRT series, DiRT 2 provides a gaming experience thatís on par, and even better in several different areas. Fans of off-road racing games will love the level of value and content that Codemasters has provided within this title. If you are a fan of both simulation and arcade-style racing games, you will feel at home with how Codemasters took elements of both styles in order to create a unique and interesting gaming experience.


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