Colin McRae: DiRT 2 Review

Let's get Dirt-y

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 6th January 2010

Colin McRae: DiRT 2

  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Publisher: Codemasters
  • Release Date: 4th December 2009

I was very impressed with the console version of Colin McRae's Dirt 2 when it arrived back in September. The PC version seems to have taken an age to become available, usually when this happens it's quite often a sign things are going to be better or worse than what has come before. By the end of this review, I guarantee any fears you may have held for the PC version of Dirt 2 will be well and truly put to bed.

The playing experience on offer in the PC version of Colin McRae’s Dirt 2 is pretty much the same as that of the console. You start your career gaining experience in order to unlock new locations and events to race in. Just as in the console version gaining experience as you race will also give you access to a wider range of liveries and assorted novelty items allowing you to customise your ride to a certain degree. In addition to gaining experience, you also earn cash, allowing you to buy new vehicles and upgrade packs. Vehicles again are the same as those that featured in the console version with a range of rally cars, trophy trucks and buggy’s all available for you to rip up the dirt in.

So far it’s pretty much what we’ve seen before. In fact Dirt 2 on the PC offers very few differences, the same race types, and tracks all return and unlike most console ports the multiplayer and matchmaking components are even on a par with those of the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions. Even the leaderboard challenges are present allowing gamers to compete without going head to head in the various versus multiplayer modes. Sadly this does mean that the same flaws of the console version have also returned, and that is the limited number of tracks and race types that are available. Don’t worry though! This is easily overlooked thanks to the excellent driving experience the game offers.

Colin McRae’s Dirt 2 is a fairly solid console port, and it’s hard to spot any real differences. However, I do feel the PC has had some slight tweaks that make it slightly better than the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions. Firstly the way vehicles handle seems tighter and steering doesn’t feel as sloppy. This really aids you during race action allowing you to easily pull off power-slides. It also seems easier to recover from mistakes, powering through slips and tail wobbles. This to some, may make Dirt 2 on the PC sound much easier then its console counterpart however, the A.I drivers still offer a good challenge and will push you all the way to the end of a race. They also help create exciting races and will do battle with each other, often swapping positions. The driving experience of Dirt 2 is real edge of the seat stuff, which is aided by power-sliding around corners side-by-side on a regular basis. With this in mind I can’t stress how much the A.I drivers contribute to the wow factor of the game.

The pre-race setup option also seems to have much more affect on your cars performance and as a result the balance between the “right” and “wrong” set-up also seems to have increased. Get things wrong and you’ll find yourself down the pecking order vice versa and then the podium beckons. Annoyingly though this option seems to have been completely omitted from the games multiplayer section, meaning when playing online against other players you are restricted to the default set-up.

As you may have heard in the run-up to the release of the PC version, the game comes complete with support for Microsoft new DirectX 11 API’s. This has really benefited Dirt 2 in the visual department with extremely realistic looking dust particles and water the area in which it seems to have helped most is with the games brilliant looking vehicle models, complete with rich paint work that reflects the light brilliantly. The various cars and trucks look extremely realistic, almost as if you could reach into your monitor and touch them. The games damage system has had some minor tweaks, bumpers and body panels fall off with much more force. Often catapulting across the track and they even seem to splinter in to more parts. Another testament to the games visuals brilliance is in the level of depth the developers have achieved, you actually feel as if your moving around the track rather than the track scrolling around you. The game is further brought to life with great sound design. Vehicle sounds have been beefed up and the various exhaust tones really help create an authentic race atmosphere. This is complimented by the typical extreme sports alternative rock sound track, while may not be to everyone’s taste does suit the game brilliantly. The only real flaw with the games sound design is the cheesy driver chat which can be quite irritating.

On the whole the game runs smoothly throughout with no bugs or crashes to reports. Graphics also put in a solid performance and no matter how heart pounding or intense the racing action becomes it still manages a solid 50fps, even on a rather standard gaming rig.

Colin McRae’s Dirt 2 has made the transition from console to PC incredibly well, offering much the same in terms of play as before. However, the PC version has also brought some excellent tweaks which have added an edge to the experience, making Colin McRae’s Dirt 2 an unrivalled and unmissable off road racing experience.

Review Score: 9/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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