DiRT 3 Review

Dirt 3 logo

There is a sort of irony to the beautiful dirt-encrusted car models found in DiRT 3, Codemasters’ latest entry in their rally sport racing franchise. While the cars don’t mind getting down and dirty, dirt and grime caking their wonderfully modeled exteriors, the game itself is directly opposed to it. It’s a game that is firmly stuck between two worlds, arcade action and realistic sim.

DiRT 3 casts you as an up-and-coming rally car driver, complete with a team that constantly barrages you with praise and advice (“Great job grabbing the podium!”) during the game’s Dirt Tour mode. Here you’ll be racing through a variety of events in four seasons of competition. As you compete and raise your Driver Rep level and gain points, more events and cars are opened for your enjoyment. The racing itself is solid stuff, allowing you to customize your skill level to deliver whatever driving experience you crave. Want to just put the pedal to the metal and drive? You can do that. Want to actually experience the nuances of rally cross? That option is there too. DiRT 3 never reaches the point of alienating you, always giving you a way to keep chugging forward in the Dirt Tour. There is no better example of this than the flashbacks. Mess up and you can rewind the tape and use a flashback to correct the mistake. Of course your flashbacks are limited to 5 per race, but you’ll find that to be generous.

Through all the positive reinforcement, though, it’s a game that will feel like it’s perpetually scratching the surface. Providing the options to customize your racing experience is great, but it never commits to either angle. If you’re a sim diehard, you’ll find the limited car tweaking (gear ratios, break spread) to be woefully inadequate and if you’re an arcade fan, you’ll find the game isn’t exciting enough or fast enough.

The courses are some of the most graphically superior recreations of real word environments I’ve seen, but you’ll find yourself only spending 2-3 minutes at a time in them, before being whisked off to your next event with no sense of continuity or meaningful flow. I suppose this is to encourage you to upload your videos to YouTube in one of the game’s newest features, but I spent more time staring at menus and loading screens than racing.

In the end, DiRT 3 is a game with slick presentation, beautiful cars, stunning environments, and solid racing, but no depth. It’s a game that does nothing wrong, but never wants to achieve anything greater.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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