Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
0

Gaming News

'DiRT Showdown' preview: A rowdy, fun, disobedient spinoff

By
'DIRT Showdown' screenshot

© Codemasters


DiRT: Showdown is an arcade spinoff of the long-running Codemasters racing series, featuring nitrous-powered cars, Call of Duty-inspired vehicle Deathmatch and even sumo wrestling - well, sort of. We got behind the wheel of this rowdy, disobedient son of DiRT.

DiRT: Showdown was born out of the Gymkhana mode in last year's well received DiRT 3. This petrolhead's playground side-stepped the precision and technical excellence of previous DiRT racing games, and instead dialled up the speed and craziness, enabling players to try out jumps, doughnuts and other outlandish moves. DiRT Showdown takes this even further, as a full retail game with a 50-event career mode and a high octane multiplayer - but is there enough under the hood to make this a winner?

'DIRT Showdown' screenshot

© Codemasters

'DIRT Showdown' screenshot

© Codemasters



Take the wheel, get ready to Race Off!

While DiRT Showdown features many familiar aspects of the DiRT series, it is certainly not aimed at the hardcore racer. The target market is people who want quick, easy and accessible racing on their own, or with others. They want speed, they want crashes, and they want to show off - and Showdown aims to serve all this up on a brightly coloured plate. Forget about avoiding body contact and hugging the racing line, this is a game all about the mayhem.

DiRT Showdown reduces the somewhat steep learning curve of past DiRT games, and makes the vehicle handling more forgiving. This is not to dumb down, per se, but rather to open up the series to a broader stroke of gamers. Similar to other arcade-oriented titles, a nitrous boost system is available, managed by a power bar. This is charged by crashing into people - the better the smash, the more boost you get. You can also drift around corners, do jumps and generally hoon around.

A full career mode features a range of different events, including Race Off!. This involves a straight race against a series of opponents, but the action is chaotic and oriented to destruction, with bumpers and bonnets peeling off, and cars flipping through the air. The handling immediately feels more forgiving, but Showdown wears its arcade origins like a badge of honour. If this game was a motorsport, it would be US NASCAR - gurning wildly in the direction of the rather pompous Formula One.

'DIRT Showdown' screenshot

© Codemasters

'DIRT Showdown' screenshot

© Codemasters



Rampage - DiRT goes demolition derby

Standard racing in DiRT: Showdown is certainly enjoyable, particularly as the courses are compact, detailed and feature lots of 'pinch points' to encourage contact and passing. But where this game really comes alive is when it ditches the racing and instead goes all out for destruction. The Rampage mode is essentially Call of Duty-style Deathmatch with cars, a demolition derby played out in a battle arena, in which you score points by smashing the hell out of others.

Crashes in DiRT Showdown are based on two things - velocity and point of impact. The first facet requires you to carefully judge your line and when you boost, in order to hit the opponent with maximum pace - and not miss entirely. The latter requires you to aim carefully to get maximum points - T-boning a car scores higher than a front-facing smash, but taking out another car entirely (health is shown above all competitors) brings a bigger points bonus.

In Rampage, you get infinite respawns, but the game is under a time limit (with double points towards the end). The mode is a complete blast, as cars crash and smash into each other in utter chaos. In single-player, the computer AI is aggressive and so there is a good challenge in trying to score more and more points. But it seems Rampage will really shine in multiplayer against other humans. You can upload 30 seconds of footage direct to YouTube by pressing the Y button, so expect to see some special 'kill cam' shots of joyous takedowns.

'DIRT Showdown' screenshot

© Codemasters



Car-based Sumo wrestling and fun in the 8-Ball

Knockout is a variation on rampage that involves cars competing on a raised platform in the style of Japanese Sumo, trying to knock each other off the edge. This adds a different element to the gameplay, as you must carefully time your nitrous-powered surge so as not to miss the target and drive straight off the platform. Equally, you must ensure not to leave your car open to being pushed off by others. Bonus points are available for style and achievements, such as for getting 'first blood' in a round.

Getting back to the racing, 8-Ball places up to eight players on a compact track, which features two crossover points. The trick is that at the crossovers, even if you are in the lead you run the risk of being blind-sided. This brings a rather delicious sense of constant fear - do you boost through the crossovers, or try to time the move? Such a dilemma manages to elevate what would otherwise be a rather mundane racing mode.

Everything you do in DiRT Showdown brings points, and these can be spent on upgrading your car via three simple meters - handling, speed and strength - as well as buying new vehicles. Due to the madcap nature of the game, there are no licenced cars, except in the Gymkana, which returns as 'Hoonigan' (including the freeplay mode). The career mode will apparently allow you to select just the events you prefer, but much will depend on how this is presented for it not to seem like a tagged-on feature.


As DiRT 4 is the works, DiRT Showdown is not so much a bold new direction but a fun-filled diversion for the long-running series. The game amps everything up to 11; being more colourful, more accessible and more destructive than previous DiRT titles. Whether this spin-off will offer a similar amount of content and depth as a full DiRT release is difficult to tell, there's no doubt that it's immensely fun to play.

DiRT Showdown will be available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC from May 25 in the UK and May 29 across North America..

You May Like

Comments

Loading...