When I think of Codemasters I think of Formula One racing while others think of the Colin McRae series which transformed into Dirt and if you’re really unlucky you’ll associate Codemasters with Brian Lara Cricket. However to me they’ll always be a racing studio and their latest title continues in that vein.
When I unwrapped Dirt Showdown and stuck it into the Xbox 360 I was expecting a rallying game; yes I should maybe have known better if I’d researched it some but I hadn’t and as such the entire experience was a bit of surprise for me.
You see there is rallying in Dirt Showdown but there is also destruction derby, destruction derby minus the racing and gymkhana in the game. Basically if you get in a car and compete but never really go to fast then it’s likely to be in Dirt Showdown.
The game starts off with you starting on the bottom rung of a 4 tier tower and you being able to choose one of two events, once you select an event you are given a selection of cars to choose from that are appropriate to the event and then you can customise them using the cash you earn with winning an event and by selecting a sexy sponsor for the cars livery.
In a nice touch the liveries are all real world companies including our friends at FreeStyleExtreme who we just ran a competition with. Some people find this real world product placement annoying but I’ve always maintained it enhances the game’s atmosphere and is something I’d really like to see more off.
In fact this ingame product placement is huge in Dirt Showdown with monster sized Monster cans adorning the tracks and banners of real world companies covering every last free spot… much like in real life actually.
So once you’ve got your car all sexified (so is a word) you are thrown into your event, the events you will have to complete are
- Race Off – A straight forward race
- Domination – You need to set the fastest time in each of the four sectors of the track, you get points for each sector you dominate
- Elimination – The person coming last is eliminated every few seconds
- Rampage – Smash the other cars, you get points for solid hits and extra points for destroying an opponent. Once destroyed you respawn and continue.
- Knock Off – Same as rampage except you are on a platform and you get a lot of points for knocking off an opponent.. my personal favourite
- Hard Target – You are the victim, everyone is trying to destroy you and you need to stay alive for a specified amount of time to win
- 8 Ball – Destruction derby, the point is to win the race but you can destroy your competitors to gain that little advantage
- Trick Rush – You are given a certain amount of time to complete as many tricks as possible for points
- Head 2 Head – You compete head to head.. get it.. against someone else on a predefined obstacle course doing tricks and the like.
- Smash Hunter – You need to smash a certain number of coloured blocks faster than anyone else did
Everytime you complete a stage you are given a certain amount of money depending on where you are placed and you can then use that money to upgrade your car or purchase new cars and that is pretty much the entire game.
As you progress the game becomes harder and harder but it never really felt overly difficult and while the different races are all entertaining I didn’t feel like I was ever really getting into this game as each level was an entirely different experience from the last.
I personally loved the demolition levels and the racing itself was fun but I didn’t really get into the gymkhana sections that much. All in all it’s been a very difficult game to review as the game ends up feeling like less than a sum of its parts which is incredibly frustrating.
Great games are a combination of good things mashed together perfectly but Dirt Showdown is more like a combination of great things mashed together badly.
I think some sort of story would have made this experience more entertaining but after a while it just felt repetitive. It’s not a bad game though and will be one of those titles that I keep going back to just so that I can ram people off a cliff in my Boksburg bakkie.
Each of the mini games are fun and well paced, the demolition levels sometimes don’t give you the points you think you should get but it’s still a great experience
Design and Presentation:8/10
The game looks and presents great, granted I’d like a more interactive story experience instead of the same menu all the time but that menu does look good.
This is one of those games that if your friends have it then you are going to get a lot of game time out of it, else the story or single player experience isn’t going to keep you going for to long.
There is no story, we shouldn’t score on it then but it annoys me that there is no story.
Overall: 7/10 (Not an average)
Overall Dirt Showdown is a good game but it doesn’t grab you like I expected. I’d have liked to see more of a reason behind why you are partaking in all these races and why you are covering so many disciplines in one career.
[Reviewed on X-Box 360]