DiRT 2 Review
Visual splendor and superb driving mechanics feature in this slightly flawed but very enjoyable racer.
The difficulty seems fair, with a friendly catch-up system but one that lets you dominate if you are driving particularly well. Multi-track races are easier; they always seem to be when perhaps it should be the reverse. Single races require you to be much more switched on and pushing your car very early without slacking off. Likewise if you are dominating a multi-race event the last race will be much harder with very aggressive catch-up systems especially close to the end. Throwdowns, which are optional challenges by other rally drivers, are also quite harder but they do contribute towards adding that driver to your buddy list. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any reason for there to be a buddy list, perhaps with the only exception being that they seem nicer to you during races. You can always restart races if you have used up all your flashbacks too early in the race and then have a bad crash. Because most of the races are generally fairly short you won’t be losing that much by restarting it.
The game doesn’t really get harder as it progresses and in fact the opposite was happening for me. At the start the game quickly recommended I increase to difficulty to Savage. Initially moving upwards and driving with full damage was challenging for a while and forced me to work hard. However I repeated more events and races earlier on than when I was going through the world tours, x-games and the classic rallies after I was level 30. The game did not recommend a harder difficulty for me and I was quite enjoying the domination during some races. There weren’t too many laboriously long races either and only a few team events. Included later in the game is the Colin McRae Challenge, a nice touch to remember the late rally driver with a fitting movie and unlock upon completion.
As you progress through the single player you will level up your character to unlock vehicles and skins for those vehicles. Every level up to 30 you will unlock some skins or vehicles. In addition to this you can unlock some dashboard toys. Most of these unlocks are purely cosmetic and the dashboard toys were barely seen by me because I use the rear camera position all the time. Once you hit level 30 you’ve unlocked all the liveries. However you can score additional unlocks by completing some of the events, x-games, world tours and the Colin McRae challenge. These vehicles unlocked during these special events are useful for online racing because you’ll have the speed or traction advantage. The liveries provide you with alternative looks for your vehicles but sadly this means custom colour / livery design has been removed from the game since GRID. Although this makes all the cars look great you lose a lot of customisation options. Most of the single player experience is solid but it does fall a little way due to some commentary.
Although the single player moves along at a very fast pace it does slip up with a few problems, mostly related to the commentary. You’ll notice very quickly that drivers such as Ken Block and Dave Mirra will talk to you a lot. This means before races, during races, after races and after events will all receive boorish quips. The only times I enjoyed listening to them was midrace when I managed to ram into them while they were mid way through a sentence, causing them to grunt and instantly stop talking. Part of the reason it’s so poor is because they repeat things too often and often say nonsense. Apparently this track will “blow my mind” and that in California “it’s cookin’ and sand seems to get everywhere”. Jet setting from one country to another will no doubt trigger Ken Block or one of his buddies to say the exact same line they already said 20 times previously. Even the fake rally drivers like “Katie Justice” don’t come off any better than the real rally drivers. If you like to hop around the map then you’ll find this gets very annoying.
Of course this commentary has been introduced because they want to try to inject some personality to the racing which can be quite lonely at times. It does tend to feel lonely because of events like Rally and Trailblazer is basically you racing against the clock. I don’t think their idea was anywhere near successful. Taking out the team options from GRID and removing the custom skin options takes away some of the character the player can infuse themselves. Of course once you get over the loneliness you’ll enjoy the pure driving action.