Sometimes driving games lack soul. I’ve never been a fan of the Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo series because they seem to be driving simulators rather than games. And since I can drive, I’ve just never seen the appeal of a game which is about as much fun as watching someone else drive down to the shops.
In fact, the last time I bought a Forza game, I returned it within a few days only to be met with a look of utter contempt by the guy behind the desk at Gamestation. How dare I not like the petrolheads’ wankfodder!!
The point I’m trying to make is that when it comes to racing games, I look for fun over physics. If you’re looking for me to give an in depth analysis of how the cars in Dirt 3 handle compare to real life Rally driving, you’ve come to the wrong place.
What’s The Game About?
Well, obviously, it’s a rally-themed racing game. The main point of the game – the career mode – is that you are a new rally driver entering the World Tour and you must compete to win each of the four Rally Seasons, with the ultimate aim of winning the DC Superseries Championship.
There are essentially four racing modes.
- Rally – You race against other drivers’ times to get to the end of a mostly off-road course (there’s also a version called Land Rush which is the same type of race but on a more expansive road with less bends)
- Rally X – A race against 7 other cars in the more traditional sense. It varies between 3 and 8 laps.
- Crossover – Race one-on-one with an opponent who is going in the opposite direction on an adjacent track (that’s a terrible description, I know)
- Gymkhana – Compete for points, achieved by pulling off fancy tricks with your car.
There are also two exhibition modes – Speed Run and Smash – where you aren’t competing against anyone but are trying to beat a time/point total to achieve Driver Rep.
Driver Rep is this game’s version of levelling up. With each race you drive in you get points for the car you drove, where you finished, how many flashbacks you saved (you have a limited amount of flashbacks allow you to rewind the race if you
crash) and how many race objectives you conquered. Each time you level up you get a better car which earns you even more rep points, meaning that it becomes pointless driving cars from previous levels.
In an attempt to give the career mode some level of ‘storyline’, you have to sit around and wait to proceed with the game while an annoying English woman, an American and I think a New Zealander talk amongst themselves about how well you’re doing (complete with regular terrible jokes)
There are cust0misation options available for your car, but I didn’t need to move away from the pre-set conditions on Medium difficulty.
There’s no doubt the game plays well, but the problem with it is quite simple – it’s repetitive to the point of being dull.
In each season, I think you have to complete 20 different events, mostly containing 3 or 4 races each. But there are a comparatively small amount of racing venues to go along with that number.
So by the time you get to the 3rd season, let alone the 4th, you’ve played each venue/map numerous times. Yes, the weather and conditions change, but you can’t escape from the fact that it’s the same track/course. And as I say, it gets dull. While you polish off the first couple of seasons with fresh faced enthusiasm, by the time you get to the DC Superseries Championship Finals you are barely hanging on, doing the minimum possible to achieve victory. At least I was.
Or to put it another way, this game suffers from an extreme case of Diminishing Marginal Returns. By the time you’ve completed your tenth go on a course, you’re enjoying it far less than the first one. That wouldn’t be a problem if the game featured off-line multiplayer; after all, we happily play through the same tracks time and time again on Mario Kart, but in this game like in any game, playing against the AI is soulless and offers far less variety in comparison to playing against your friends.
And that’s the biggest problem with Dirt 3. Like most games these days, it completely ignores off-line multiplayer. Perish the thought that game owners might have real friends that they can play against in the same room. Older games like Rallisport Challenge on the original Xbox managed 4 player split screen fine, but in this game it’s online multiplayer or nothing.
Beyond that, there’s the problem of the annoying voices. You have to sit through these three soulless disembodied voices talking about you like you’ve formed a long and personal relationship with them. And you can’t skip it. It’s torture. Why games makers think this adds character to the game, I don’t know. It’s an irritant, and an insincere one at that.
My last problem with the game is how much it tries to force the online content down your throat. I rented the game from Lovefilm basically because I enjoyed the first one, but ended up completing it and then allowing it to gather dust (thanks to the lack of multiplayer). But that meant that I couldn’t play the game online (fair enough) and also couldn’t completely finish the game either (not fair enough). Some tracks and cars that you should have unlocked by advancing/levelling up had to be purchased. It’s a worrying trend in games.
But if you ignore these problems, you are left with a great looking and equally well playing driving game.
Should You Buy Dirt 3?
Well I’d recommend that you play it, but whether you should buy it or not is a different matter. Having been out for a few months now, the price of the game has crashed down to the £23 barrier, and relatively speaking, it probably is worth that. I rented the game from Lovefilm, and while I enjoyed it and got about 3 weeks worth of play out of it (in spite of the eventual repetition) I have no desire to play it again. But in fairness, the same can be said of lots of games.
So I’ll say this – if you plan on playing the game online then it’s worth the purchase. If you don’t, and just want to play the Career Mode, you could probably get away with just renting it.