Review: Xbox 360: Dirt Showdown

Codemasters have unleashed another Dirt upon us but this time it’s damaging, hurtful and more about destruction and chaos compared to its cleaner and sharper predecessors. Dirt Showdown takes itself in a different direction, it’s less about traditional racing and more about putting on a show! Showdown is a fabulous balance between racing and destruction sporting a variety of vehicles that look more at home on an American scrap yard than on our British roads. You end up trashing most vehicles making them unrecognisable against other drivers across new and exciting race modes and you get rewarded for doing so, Dirt is definitely all about the confrontation this time!

You have the usual Tour Mode to burn through, Joyride and the Multiplayer world to nose dive right into. The only weak aspect about Showdown is the Tour Mode as it has no background story, so it doesn’t necessarily have a great way of delivering it’s different race modes and other features initially but when you get over that tiny hump you’ll be in for a concentrated dose of brutal annihilation!

The biggest difference in Showdowns overall control scheme is it’s manipulated to be extra easy on those wheels and more forgiving so you’re able to pull of some huge drifts and bonkers doughnuts. You also get deeper and wider cornering which means if you don’t hit curves at the right time and angle you can end up all over the joint, this new perspective and feel of the game works really well the the fireworks, ramps, obstacles and even the A.I have a bit more of bite with their new attitudes on the race track. You even have access to a Boost feature which gives your vehicle a heck more momentum, this also causes bundles more damage to the opposition. It’s really quite different from the faster paced ‘grit your teeth’ racing we’ve seen from Dirt 1 & 2. Showdown really feels a lot more inviting as it requires less super rigid skill for more creative and flexible reactions instead. Alongside showdowns slightly altered gritty attitude is the new set of excitable tracks, which brings heaps of glorified mayhem to each race. There’s tracks that cross over one another, ones that box racers in with each other and much more to burn through.

There is some small weather effects and conditions, though this is for Dirts track conditions so they don’t end up too samey, there’s some weather that obstructs your view but it’s not majorly menacing to your races. Licensed cars aren’t available but expect some creatively designed machines to have the pleasure of destroying instead. In fact, I can’t actually begin to remember how many of my own vehicles I’ve totalled or how many I’ve denied the A.I of. Different vehicles can be unlocked and then bought with your hard earned cash from those races and the statistics of your vehicles can be improved before races too; Power, Strength and Handling can be improved to raise the grade of the vehicle. You can also select different liveries before you jump right into the action, they’re designed by company’s that each have there own unique theme or particular design they follow.

Dirt Showdowns Tour mode is pretty standard, within it is the different race types you’ll get running through Showdowns different difficulties. The race types carry a lot of destructive type races where you’re either trying to aniline as many opponents as possible to score points in a giant raised platform or boxed right in with a few bends to swing round and hold on to be the last wreck standing. The roaring crowds gives these events a nice buzz, a good sharp edge to get you right into these scrums. It’s as much fun as it sounds and failing a few races wont have you retching with shame, you’ll just want to have another bash at it. As exciting as the destruction is, it is a step back from your incredibly sharp blind bends and terrain that’s strict to navigate through, it wont push you even nearly as hard as the other two but offers up a more than suitable alternative direction if you like your action orientated racing games.

If you’re more of a trickster, those tricky obstacle courses are back from Dirt 2 when you start to progress into the other tier of difficulty’s; Pro, Allstar, Champion and Legend. Smash hunter is a particularly enjoyable test of handling, precision and hand eye co-ordination. The courses and objectives are also well laid out and creates some wonderful opportunities to utilize the built in YouTube recorder to upload your best runs to impress your community! You have to drive around the course and hit the coloured bricks as you’re prompted to on screen, the blocks are coloured and are easy enough to see but there’s some slants and angles that blind you to just keep you on your toes. You can use the Flashback feature if you fail to hit the required amount of blocks so you don’t screw up your near perfect run with that one annoying mishap, though upping your difficulty will limit the number of Flashbacks you will have to begin in each event.

After you’ve had a good thrash around the Tour mode, Dirt offers up a fun, open and challenging mode apply named Joyride. Here’s where you get to drift around two open locations with other unlockable areas while completing certain challenges in or around your environment. Joyride is definitely a more balanced aspect to Dirt Showdown and Dirt 2, it’s not so much the destroying or maintaining elements like your velocity that you utilize here but simply just thinking, reacting and then finishing with some amazing balancing acts and tricks combined together. You’ll drift under lorry’s near perfectly or Salem round the narrowest gaps and then pull off two jumps and a donut just to get right down to the last missions on your list. Dirt has some very rewarding unlockable and challenging elements scattered through it modes which brings you further into Dirts experience as a whole but it also lacks in a nice sharp competitive edge which the last two titles did have due to their rallying nature. What you’re looking at is a straight swap from a sharp nimble racing game to destructible high octane one and the transition between the two comes across very well in Dirt Showdown.

Alongside Dirts online aspects it also has a Challenges section you can find on the main menu screen. After each race you can send invitations to your friends to beat your time or score and you can check any expired or pending submissions in the Challenges menu tab. You can also see how many challenges you’ve beaten and kept and who with, in a clear and efficient online menu system. There’s an Options and Extras section just below Challenges which has all of your bits and bobs to tinker with including your Driver Details where you can edit your name, audio name, horn, difficulty and your YouTube setting so you can upload your best smashes.

Xbox Live mode has a handy tier’d menu system to help you into Multiplayer matches. You can set up your playlist first by selecting which types of matches you’d like to compete in, these being, Everything, Demolition, Hoonigan, Racing and Party and all these have a neat little descriptions and bar that lights up all the relevant info. There’s also different Bonus’s to aim for while playing the Multiplayer mode like the Underdog Bonus where you can grab extra fans for beating the higher level players. You can also organise party’s to run around online with, if you can get the players together you should definitely give it a good bash as the fun is only amplified with friends and that good ol’ banter you can find in a good group of gamers.

Racenet Events is part of Dirts extensive online experience. Sign up to Racenet to access this feature, go to extras & options and check the Racenet tab there and you’ll find all the instructions you’ll need including the website you sign up to. It even comes with a little gift as you’re a new comer and some in game cash!

Overall Dirt Showdown has a had a good crack at the action orientated side of the racing genre but has also kept its distinguishable features from the past titles at the same time. It’s also given the games’ new direction a place to shine and really draw you in with it’s bendy tracks and jumps and along with the whole destructible side of the game only brings it to life online and off. The only thing it lacks is a podium or background structure to show it’s Tour mode off with, it’s really quite enjoyable but lets the rest of the game down with it’s lack of enthusiasm. It’s one to add to your collection if you’re a Dirt fan or you favour your brutal action.

Score: 7.5/10

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