After the disappointment of Fuel
– which was about as dull and exciting as the coarse fabric pants you could expect to win if you triumphed driving one of its leaden, fart-coloured racers through a fart-coloured post-apocalyptic landscape – I had to admit I approached the demo of Codemasters’ next racer, Dirt 2
, with some trepidation.
Fortunately, the recently released demo reveals that we’re mostly back on safe ground, and despite the name it’s not even that brown. That’s because while Fuel
was developed by an external studio, Dirt 2
is an inhouse game, and you can tell: Dirt 2
is basically Grid
for off-road racing.
That’s no bad thing, as Grid
was brilliant – fast, flash and full of varied racing. Dirt 2
’s rewind-and-replay feature that means you get a limited number of opportunities to zip back in time when you crash and resume play right before the moment you got your Lewis Hamilton mistaken for Lewis out of Inspector Morse.
The Dirt 2 demo features two races, one in oversize 4x4s such as this one
As with Grid
, Dirt 2
’s action is spread across multiple continents, and on each the racing varies – in the demo you get to try two races. The first is in Baja California, thrashing oversized 4x4s around a bumpy track, and the second is a rally stage in Morocco. As with Grid
, there’s an attempt to create a world outside of the races – instead of the fairly dull procession of menus you usually get in games such as Forza
and Gran Turismo
, the menu options are part of fully 3D scenes. To start the race, you need to highlight your car, which sits outside in the paddock, surrounded by people. It’s a neat idea, but I can see it being frustrating in a full game when you just want to get into the next race.
Graphically, it’s absolutely gorgeous – splashing through water in the Baja California track looks appropriately wet, but the Morocco rally stage is the highlight of the demo, the orangey sunlight thrumming with real, tangible warmth. The sound is effective too, with stones ricocheting off the car is your race through the stage. The racing itself is good, if not amazing. It doesn’t feel as dead as Fuel
, but the big SUVs are still a bit slow, and the rally stage lacks a co-driver giving directions which is odd.
Overall though, it’s a very well produced demo that even includes online racing – well worth checking out, ahead of the game’s release – 11th September for consoles, still TBC for the PC.