DiRT Showdown Preview
The secret to a great game isn’t incredible visuals, insane budgets and celebrity voice acting. Those things are all well and good, but if a game forgets to actually be fun, it is destined to fail. You see, back when I was growing up, games like POD on the Commodore 64 didn’t look good, they didn’t sound good either, but were just plain old fashioned arcade fun, which is what we have with DiRT Showdown; pure, unadulterated fun.
Luckily though, Showdown looks and sounds superb as well, whether it be the fireworks blasting off as you pass the starting line or the vehicle deformation as you T-Bone someone into oblivion. But the fun, oh the fun is there for all to enjoy.
The bulk of the time people spend playing will be the DiRT Showdown Tour mode, which consists of four tiers, each with twelve events and a final showdown event. As you complete events in decent positions, new races are unlocked. The events are made up of variations of standard Racing, Demolition and Gymkhana. The first of these, Racing, is exactly as you’d imagine, pretty standard fare, but Demolition events will bring back incredibly fond memories of the Psygnosis title Demolition Derby, for PlayStation.
Some of the Demolition events involve simply racing around a course, attempting to finish in the highest position you can, but the twist is that the courses are designed for chaos. You’ll quite often go past a T-junction which other races are crossing, meaning you will either smash head-on into them, or T-Bone them out of the way, or – in fact there’s a third option – push opponent racers into the line of fire. Utter chaos can break out, and frequently does, with vehicles flying all over the place, fireworks exploding all the while, it really is an excellent experience. Also in Demolition mode, you will take place in arena events which are purely about destroying one another. Points are awarded based on the type of crashes, but you can also get points for forcing opponents over the precipice of the arena, if there is one. That word “fun” jumps to mind again, pure frolics that can reward skill but also allow the less skilled players to just enjoy insane crashes and destruction.
If Demolition allows more casual players to enjoy DiRT Showdown, then the Gymkhana events will definitely test the more skilled players. Facing off against an opponent in real time (but never interacting with one another) you’ll have to perform donuts, drifts, crashes and jumps whilst still getting to the finish line first. These events become quite addictive, with that “one more go” aspect shining through; you know you can do it if you just try! They also ensure the player never gets bored with repetition, as they feel completely different to the other modes available.
It’s in racers like DiRT Showdown that the oft-maligned rewind mode actually feels worthwhile. Called “Crashback” here, if you feel slighted by a particularly annoying crash, you can simply rewind and make sure it doesn’t happen. People who don’t like the rewind mechanic in racing games still don’t have to use it, but the temptation will be too great when some idiot smashes you into 5th place – from first – on the final lap.
Of course, none of this would matter if it wasn’t also a driving game that handled really well. Players will be able to drift with ease using the handbrake and the overall handling is reminiscent of the best arcade racers available; Showdown is most certainly not a simulation, as if you needed telling.
Aside from the main Showdown Tour mode, the game is also going to ship with plenty of challenges and a mode called “Joyride” which tasks the player with performing stunts and collecting hidden packages. Another huge bonus is that split-screen 1-on-1 multiplayer is present; a feature many seem to deem unnecessary in today’s gaming world. Full leaderboard support along with multiplayer options for solo racing and team racing is also included to round off the package.
DiRT Showdown is shaping up to be a really interesting title, with masses of multiplayer options and a hefty single player campaign, arcade racing fans or people who love a good crash would do well to pick it up when it releases this May.
DiRT Showdown will be released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC in May 2012. Keep your eyes on GodisaGeek.com for more information as it comes out.