Following Colin McRae’s tragic death in a helicopter accident in September 2007, we must admit to being a little surprised to find ourselves playing Colin McRae: Dirt 2, not least because it seems a little tacky continuing to licence a dead man’s name to sell a video game. However, with the blessing of McRae’s estate and an atmosphere of respect for the late rally champ’s achievements, Dirt 2 looks to be a hell of a lot more reverential than other post-mortem licences, as well as being a fine game into the bargain.
Of course, developer Codemasters has a pretty darn impressive track record (puntacular!) when it comes to racing games, having produced fine Colin McRae Rally games as far back as the PS1 before releasing the sublime Race Driver: GRID and nabbing the Formula 1 licence rights last year. Unsurprisingly then Codemasters has listened to both customer and sales feedback, making Dirt 2 a very different game from the solo rally centric original.
The biggest changes are those brought over from Race Driver: GRID, whose presence is felt almost everywhere in Dirt 2, although it’d be a little unfair to simply categorise the game as GRID with some Dirt on it. The standout extra addition though, as it was with GRID, is the “flashback” ability, where you’re able to rewind time following a crash or written off car to have another go at that hairpin corner at perhaps a slightly safer speed.
On longer rally stages in particular it makes a huge difference, with one of the original Dirt’s biggest criticisms being its unforgiving difficulty level. If you’ve ever played any sort of racing game then you’ll know the frustration of writing off your car on the last corner, and what a huge relief the flashback ability is, its inclusion allowing you to play with a bit more of a relaxed approach.
Don’t assume Dirt 2 is an easy ride though. You’ll still find yourself pushing cars to their limits and having to have more than a few goes at taking first place at the harder difficulties. Difficulty settings can be adjusted between races with the game encouraging you to try the harder difficulties if you’re winning too easily, with cash and unlockable incentives making the extra effort worthwhile.