Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review

Written by Harry Butler

September 9, 2009 | 09:33

Tags: #colin-mcrae #dirt-2 #graffiti #racing #rally #rallying

Companies: #codemasters

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Gameplay

Of course, all these nifty features would be for nought if the actual driving wasn’t up to scratch and we’re happy to say that the core of Dirt 2’s gameplay is as finely tuned as the cars it features. Cars are extremely satisfying to drive while still taking skill and track knowledge to get the best out of them. That first perfect hand-break hairpin or flat out, perfectly apexed medium right are great moments, with the game skirting the line between the unforgiving realities of rallying with the fun of an arcade racer superbly.

Each driving surface feels distinctly different, and there are even subtle nuances between clean, dusty, muddy and gravel covered tarmac, to the point that in rally cross events (which take place on a variety of surfaces) you’ll find that heading for the cleanest surface makes for almost as big an advantage as the shortest racing line. Again it’s another example of being instantly approachable, but still having that depth and skill requirement that keeps you coming back for more.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review Colin McRae: Dirt 2 - Dirtier

On the topic of skill and difficulty, Dirt 2, like GRID, does take a much more “arcadey” approach to the matter of going fast on four wheels, abandoning much of the simulation and fiddly tuning options of previous titles in the Colin McRae franchise for a more easily approachable feel. While this does feel a little less authentic, the result is a game that you can just pick up and play without knowing what toe angles or braking ratios are. Although there are still some limited tuning options like gear ratios and ride height to tinker with, diehard petrol heads will no doubt be disappointed and it's clear Dirt 2 has left it's purist rally sim lineage.

Car setups are the least of the departures from previous McRae games though, with Dirt 2 letting you race in a whole lot more than just point to point rally stages. In fact, rallying in its recognisable form, of a series of long point to point stages, has all but been abandoned in favour of more varied race types.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review Colin McRae: Dirt 2 - Dirtier

As well as much shorter rally stages which rarely exceed two minutes, there’s now Rally Cross and Rally Raid, both of which see you taking to a circuit in direct, full contact competition with other drivers, as well as Land Rush, a point to point multi car off road race driving supercharged 4x4s. Even the competitive rallying stages now feature other cars, although opponents are released some time before you giving you to still ensure a clear track – at least until your opponents crash out and you catch them up.

It all makes for a more varied gameplay experience with you jumping around the world for events – a quick rally in Morocco, a Rally Cross in London – but a degree of the rallying feel is undoubtedly lost. Car damage while spectacular when you wrap a car round a rock, doesn’t get carried over between races, even on two stage events and a co-driver is inconspicuously absent from all but the pure rally events, despite some like the Trail Blazer races (faster, longer rally like stages in super charged cars) desperately missing those helpful call signs. When you nail it into a tree for the fifth time you'll really wish there had been a “Care – Tree!” warning just before.
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