DiRT 3 Review

There’s nothing better than getting a little dirty and Codemasters sure knows how to make us feel filthy. In DiRT 3 your white knuckles will grip the steering wheel of your favorite rally cars as you race through a variety of courses, ranging from tight corridors in Finland, the watery terrain of Michigan, and beyond to places in L.A., Kenya, and Monaco. The new weather system, including rain and snow, only makes this thrilling racer more intense. Even though the game pushes your abilities as you cross from rain-covered pavement to soggy gravel, the incredibly tight controls keeps you very much in charge. And in the off-chance you have a second to look off the track, you’ll see a terrifically-designed and beautiful backdrop. But perhaps the best part of DiRT 3 is how well all of these elements combine to create an absolutely thrilling, yet controllable racing game.

DiRT 3 is definitely not a simulator, so you will get a completely different experience racing on different terrains as you would playing a game like Gran Turismo 5. The simplest task of driving from snow-covered tarmac to mud works extremely well, and will keep your hands very busy. There are plenty of assists you can turn on, depending on your ability, including a break assist and a driving line to show you the perfect path. Or, you can take your abilities to the next level by turning off these assists and simply listening to your co-pilot provide you with all the track details.

There is plenty to do in DiRT 3 and the variety of events always keep the game feeling exciting and fresh. The career mode spans four seasons as you race through multi-stage rallies. You play as a newly signed professional racer, complete with your own “multicultural” team. This team almost offers comic relief, although it’s hard to tell if that was Codemasters’ intention. It’s easy to see that some people would want to turn off these managers, especially the one that constantly suggests you post that recent highlight on YouTube. Either way, the game naturally advances you through more difficult and longer areas and tracks, giving you a great sense that your driver is actually progressing professionally. You will compete in standard rally matches and go head-to-head against a superstar from a rival team. Career mode never feels stale or repetitive as you are given the opportunity to choose which events you’d like to compete in, and even though you may stay on the same track for several races, changing conditions certainly keep the experience fresh.

You’ll have plenty of practice as that game comes equipped with more than 100 circuits and stages. The variety is incredible and highly detailed. Driving at night, in the rain or snow, taking advantage of your headlights and windshield wipers truly makes DiRT 3 one of the most intense racers on the market. These tracks may feel tough, especially if you are new and decide to turn off all the assists, but you can always rely on that co-pilot to guide you through every turn. You shouldn’t be too surprised when you crash, especially when racing against others. You are given a handful of chances to rewind, so if you really screw something up you will be afforded the opportunity to remedy any mistakes.

As you progress through the career you earn experience, which essentially allows more teams to take an interest in your career. You can easily switch in and out of teams, and really you’ll just use them for their cars. At the start of each event you’ll get to pick which teams you want to race for, but you are ultimately picking which car you want to race. The YouTube integration is a great touch, but you are limited to 30 second posts. This is a small gripe, though it would be nice if the player had more control over what they recorded and posted for the world to see. The new gymkhana events are pretty entertaining. These events task players with performing tricks and really push your abilities. You can test out your cars as you drift, spin, and slide for points. This is another area to show off your skills, even taking your game online.

There are online versions of all the standard events, which play extremely well, and the local split-screen also proves a competent affair. The game goes beyond these standard modes and adds some unique online features. If you miss playing capture the flag, Codemasters has you covered online. There are other social events like this online, and while it’s clearly for a break from frantic races, hardcore fans will probably play it once and move on. Elsewhere, DiRT 3 looks and sounds incredibly clean and precise. There is a ton of detail placed not only on the environments, but also on the actual vehicles. The lighting and weather only give this racer more polish. The soundtrack works quite well for this racer, and even the background audio and occasional spectator noises enhance the overall thrill of the race.

DiRT 3 is one of the best racing games of this generation. No, it’s not a simulator, but the textured terrain feels incredible. You can put several hours into the lengthy career mode, take your skills online, or move on to some of the bonus content. Whatever you do, you’ll be rewarded with terrific controls, wonderful graphics, and an enormous set of tracks to show off your diverse collection of cars. DiRT 3 is worth the mud and snow that accumulates on your windshield, and if you need the thrill of tight turns a muddy banks, you know where to look.



The Final Word

With tight controls, brilliant graphics, and an expansive career mode and online support, DiRT 3 is one of the best racers of this generation.