DiRT 3 Review

By on May 24, 2011

The must-have racer for the year?

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First Impressions
My reaction is

There are few studios out there who can put together games as good as Dirt 3 from Codemasters. The latest installment in the franchise is packed with goodies and jaw-dropping visuals, and packs plenty of punch in both offline and online modes. As someone who can’t seem to play a racing game without constantly hurling my car into barriers and oncoming traffic, I was giddy with delight at how accessible the game was for an uncoordinated driver such as myself.

What I love so much about Dirt 3 is that Codemasters haven’t embarked on a mission to try and reinvent the game or steer away from the game’s successful formula. Fans of Dirt 2 will find the same frantic races and game modes, but packed with even more content to explore. At the heart of Dirt 3 is the Dirt Tour, your run-of-the-mill career mode, where you pit your wits against other drivers in a variety of events in order to increase your driving reputation and unlock more races. The Tour consists of four seasons, with each season consisting of a further four championships, and each championships consist of a minimum of five events that end with a final race. Right there you can see just how long it would take you to progress through the Tour, not to mention the sheer variety of events on offer and the unlockable in-race objectives. Whether you’re testing your mettle in Rally Cross races, or plowing through snowy tracks in Land Rush, there’s a good variety of race types here to keep you entertained. What I enjoyed about the Rally races was the constant voiceover that guided me along the track, informing me of upcoming turns and any changes in the road surface. But by far the most enjoyable thing about the game is just how accessible it is. Playing on the ‘casual’ setting will enable most of the game’s driving assists, so if you’re accelerating towards a corner, the car will automatically slow down and come to the correct speed as you take the turn, and then accelerate like normal. If you’re a more experienced driver, you can of course turn these assists off completely and master the track yourself. This customizable difficulty is what made the game so enjoyable, as I didn’t have to constantly worry about wrecking my car by accelerating too quickly around a turn.

Dirt 3 also includes two new spectacular modes – Gymkhana and the DC Compound. Gymkhana is essentially a large gladiator-style arena where you pull off stunts and tricks to win over the crowd and score maximum points. There are crates to crash into, jumps, spins, and even objects to pull off donuts around. It’s a fantastic amount of fun if you keep the crowd entertained, and is a welcome distraction if you need to take a break from the Tour mode. The DC Compound is a large area where you can drive around and pull off various tricks similar to Gymkhana, but you can also try a hand at the various DC Missions, or locate hidden packages for an extra bonus.

In addition to all these game modes you can jump into the multiplayer mode for some local splitscreen or Windows Live action. The multiplayer ran smoothly with minimum interruptions or lag, making for some very close races indeed. Racing online also increases your Fanbase, and this in turn will increase your Driver Rep and unlock further special items. You’re also given the opportunity at the end of any race to recap your footage and upload short clips to YouTube. Though the clips are only 30 seconds long and play back in standard resolution, it was quite cool to upload some of my winning moments for the world to see. Again, it would have been nice if the entire race could be uploaded, but understandable only shorter clips were allowed to compensate for large file sizes and upload times.

At the heart of the game though, is its beautiful presentation. The opening races which are set in Finland are absolutely breathtaking, as you drive past winding rows of trees and gravel-studded tracks. Clouds of dust kick up as you skid around the track, and weather is also wonderfully executed at all times. My little Alienware laptop was able to handle the game at maxed out settings, but it did send my cooling fan into overdrive a few times. Still, if you’ve got a muscle PC that can handle the high amount of level and car details, then it’s well worth it.

Dirt 3 is a fantastic game that is packed with plenty of content to explore. It’s accessibility will make it appeal to novice and professional racer alike, while its stunning visuals do a fantastic job of transporting gamers into the heat of the race. The addition of new modes such as Gymkhana really opens up the game and delivers some of the most frantic racing action in a long time.

The Scorecard
Great locales and tons of races to keep you entertained for a good amount of time.
Some stunning visuals on show here, with excellent level and vehicle detailing.
Authentic engine and vehicle noises are aplenty as you tear around the tracks.
Tons of racing events and a sleek multiplayer experience means you’ll be coming back for more.
Just good, clean, racing fun.
A fantastic achievement for Codemasters that will do fans proud.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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  • http://www.ActionRadius.com/jdl karar

    does it have in-game music? I loved Dirt 2 soundtrack, but you only got listen to them in menus.. not in races :(

    plus one thing i really liked in Dirt 2 was the constant banter of drivers, as you raced across them or hit them. is that still there? cuz it made the game feel humanized. and not freaking robots driving AI cars.

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