DiRT 2 Review
Visual splendor and superb driving mechanics feature in this slightly flawed but very enjoyable racer.
One of the great aspects of DiRT 2 is the great graphics on the PC. Not only did I get to play at high resolutions but I also got a taste of the DirectX 11 graphics. In Dx11 you’ll be treated to a general quality improvement across the board, the shadows are crisper and more natural and the lighting is also more realistic with less poorly coloured overzealous bloom effects. The water is also improved, when cars drive through the water it naturally spreads away from the wheels instead of causing a splash only.
It’s not just the DirectX 11 graphics that look good, the game itself looks fantastic. The tracks are highly detailed with good looking landscapes and road textures. Foliage and small objects on the road side will get knocked down if you drive over them. The crowd looks good but the cheer effect can get a little lost when you slam your vehicle into a barrier right in front of them. The game has pretty good collision modelling, which looks quite good after a long hard fought race. During flashbacks or at any time you can replay brief sections allowing you to pause time and rewind or fast forward as you please.
If there was one disappointing aspect of the graphics it would be the lack of weather effects. There is no rain, no snow and very little wind. Although the tracks have water it would have been nice to see them play around with some weather effects to change things up. Even if they decided not to change the driving mechanics it still would have provided some nice eye candy and the added visual variety when repeating tracks. It would have also been nice to allow you to completely total your vehicle when you drive off cliffs because instead it pauses you mid air and forces a flashback or restart. The other unusual choice on the design side is having your character look around twice outside your trailer after you finish an event, every single time.
Multiplayer is almost as smooth as the single player with perhaps one exception. The exception would be the time you are required to wait a bit too long between races. You’ll be waiting after races, waiting as the votes are tallied, waiting when people select vehicles and waiting when people with slower PCs load into the game. It’s never usually a long wait, a few minutes between when you finish a race and when you start driving again. Considering the single rally races are only three or four minutes long it equates to a good chunk of waiting time versus playing time.
Multiplayer matches can include simultaneous starts for rally races, in these cases near vehicles become transparent before you. This works fairly well but you can often see tracks appear in front of you when there is no vehicle to be seen. Also people tend to abuse the humorous horns which can cheapen the experience. Staggered rallies are good fun, especially when you catch up to another competitor just ahead of you and manage to slip passed cleanly. The net code is mostly solid but for some cars it can do a lot of very weird interpolation, bouncing cars all over the track unrealistically. This bouncing comes with the annoying thud sounds too, even causing extra distraction if they are in close proximity. The difficulty increases with the multiplayer races simply because you can’t use your trusty flashback to correct mistakes, however unlike most single player races you aren’t out of the race if you crash early.