DiRT 2 is built upon the groundwork of the previous DiRT game, with new features such as online play and flashback mode. Having not played the original, I really didn’t know what to expect going in to DiRT 2. One thing is for sure though, this is one hell of an off-road racing game that should not be glazed over.
Starting out in DiRT 2, the first thing I noticed was the wonderful presentation. The menus don’t feel like menus–rather it feels as if you are smoothly transitioning from one thing to the other. You are never once removed from this presentation; it’s all seemless. To get to the next race, there’s the DiRT Tour mode that allows you to pick from a variety of races to get going.
As you progress in DiRT 2, you gain experience that then allows you to level up, unlock more races, paint jobs, dashboard and windshield toys and horns. The most clever toy is the “Avatar”, which dangles your own Xbox avatar from the windshield. I found that to be a clever use of the avatar system, and I think more games could implement them like that.
Along the way in DiRT Tour, you run into some familiar faces such as Dave Mirra (of BMX fame), Travis Pastrana (of Motocross fame) and some others. I have to admit, I had no idea these guys were also into off-road racing, but I guess that also shows how much I pay attention to that kind of stuff. These people talk to you during races, as well as outside of races where they challenge you to “Throwdowns”, which are one-on-one challenges for you to take them down.
Along with Throwdowns, there are rally, rally cross, trailblazer, land rush and raid races. This has some nice variety starting out, but eventually it starts to get old doing the same races again. The track variety gets sparse later on in the game as well, so the game does start to get a bit stale.
Now, the expansive scope of the DiRT Tour is nothing without fine tuned race mechanics, and for the most part, they’re fine in DiRT 2 as well. There are also plenty of spots where I was completely frustrated due to an error in judgement in a turn, but DiRT 2 also has a solution for that as well. When you really mess up in DiRT 2 and wish you could quickly try again, all you need to do is hit the Back button and you can then rewind time to a couple seconds earlier. This helps with the frustration, but I still found the controls to be slippery at points.
The graphics in DiRT 2 are stunning as well, everything is extremely detailed and the lighting is especially nice to look at. The frame-rate seemed steady as well, and there weren’t any noticable hiccups from my experience.
DiRT 2 also has online multiplayer support for up to 8 players. The online mode is fully featured with all the tracks and modes from the Tour brought over. During my playtime of the online mode, I did not notice any lag issues, but it’s probably worth noting that everyone online is really good at the game–so expect to lose a lot.
Overall, DiRT 2 is a great offroad racing game that will probably satisfy any fan of off-road racing. The problems in DiRT 2 stem from the lack of variety, which is unfortunate because the groundwork for a great racing game is all there. I still found DiRT 2 to be an enjoyable ride overall, mainly due to the flashback option. Casual and hardcore fans of off-road racing should find DiRT 2 to be an enjoyable experience, but don’t expect it to last for too long.