Get the lowdown on DiRT Showdown’s locales as cars speed through the snow, smash through city streets and burn it up in the desert in our latest gameplay video. Capturing DiRT Showdown’s raucous racing and turbo-charged party atmosphere, the ‘Race Hard, Party Hard’ video showcases just some of t... Read More »
Release Date: 25/05/12
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DiRT Showdown Review
If there’s one thing that’s true of Codemasters’ titles in recent years its that they are very rarely the same game with a new number on the end. Trying something a little different with an established series is what they do well, and something they’ve taken to the other end of the scale with DiRT Showdown.
This isn’t a rally game, despite sharing the “DiRT” name Showdown is probably best thought of as something entirely new. Even when you take into consideration the recent events and modes that made their way into the last two DiRT games, Showdown still adds a lot of new stuff with even more over-the-top events.
The focus of Showdown really is crashing, crashing and destroying and then crashing into things some more. The single player half of the game is spread across four tiers; Pro, Allstar, Champion and Legend. Each tier slowly becomes more of a challenge – unlocking new events, better cars and bigger cash rewards as you go.
Showdown does a very good job varying the events, keeping you interested in the game as you go. Rarely has it ever felt like a chore or grind although there has been the odd time when, through no fault of your own, you just can’t win. ‘The game’ (yes I’m blaming ‘the game’ and not my own skill level) will from time to time decide it’s going to win. It’ll take you out on the last turn, decide it’s going rack up an extra 5,000 points in the last 10 seconds on a knockout, or just old fashioned over take you. I’ve mixed feelings on this rubber-banding effect Showdown has; yes its frustrating when you have to restart a four lap race because you were wiped on the home straight, but at the same time it makes every race feel real and it much more of an event.
Graphically Showdown is stunning, Codemasters have without question put out some of the best looking racing games this generation, and DiRT Showdown is no exception. The cars all look spot on and true to their real life counterparts, even the ones Codemasters created themselves look believable. The courses are all perfectly fleshed out both on and off track – that sounds like an odd statement I know so I’ll try and explain. Depending on the event you’re in the tracks will be littered with jumps, ramps, barrels, piles of tires and these annoying little barrier things that stick out on the edges of some corners. Off track there is a whole event going on around you, be it a firework display, hot air balloons taking off or in an arena, the events in Showdown really are ‘events’.
There has obviously been a bit of a shift with the game now focusing on crashing, but everything about Showdown is now much more focused and refined. You won’t find yourself fiddling in the menus changing settings or even putting too much effort into upgrading your car, which is done with a simple button press levelling up the chosen attribute. Everything that takes place off the track is focused on getting you back on the track as quickly as possible, and something that I was grateful of. Don’t get me wrong I like whole race driver experience thing presented to us in some of Codemasters’ other titles, but it wouldn’t have worked in Showdown and I’m glad they recognised that.
DiRT Showdown’s cars, of which there are many, can be broken down into two camps; cars to smash up and cars to keep clean. The ones designed to be destroyed are all fictional but they never really feel fictional – you can almost tell how any of of them are going to handle just from looking at it. These fictional cars range from tiny little go-kart type things to great big hulking vans, and the sort of cars you’ll spend most of your time driving. The other garage full of real world cars are for the Hoonigan and Gymkhana events; fear not you can smash the hell out of these too, but it’s not really the point of these events. In these you need to complete the objectives as quickly as possible and they are spaced out perfectly throughout Showdown’s single player, breaking it up just the right out amount.
Not to take anything away from DiRT Showdown’s single player but online is where the game really shines. You don’t have that impending sense that the game’s just going to beat you because it feels like it. You feel perfectly OK with getting it handed to you by another real world player because you know that you can always get them back next race. All of the main events feature in multiplayer, as do a few more playful and unique events – for me it was these modes that really made the game. It’s fun and when you’re in a party with a bunch of your online mates there is enough variety here to make you late for work the next day.
- Brilliant fun to play both online and off.
- The online lobby/party system is so good it should be in all games.
- So many cars and upgrades – completionists will be busy for ages.
- Loads of variation.
- That american voice-over bloke from DiRT 3 is back.
- Rubber-banding can be frustrating at times.
Showdown is a very good game; its no game changer that’s for sure but it is fun. If you’re a fan of any of Codemasters’ games of late you’ll certainly enjoy this, even if you don’t think it’s your type of game. The annoying moments when the game decides its going to take you in the last few seconds are frustrating but even if they were fixed I don’t think it would change my mind on the score. Online really is where Showdown wins though, and one of those games you have in your collection that you and a bunch of mates will pop on one day a week, every week, for a long time. Racenet integration is another huge plus and has definitely become the new benchmark for stat tracking/social/extended game experiences. Showdown is a solid game and one I don’t have a problem recommending to you.
As a fan of pretty much anything Codemasters have ever made I found it odd that I was a little skeptical about DiRT Showdown. I was concerned like many others that it would just be half a game. Thankfully I was wrong and DiRT Showdown is within its own right a full game – fans of the DiRT series (like myself) are going to love this.
DiRT Showdown, the next game in Codemasters’ DiRT series went into development immediately after DiRT 3 had been completed, Mike Chapman Senior Games Designer was keen to let us know that it’s something they have had in their mind for a long time. It’s due in part to the damage model that helps make up the EGO engine Codemasters have developed and evolved over the last few years and they really want to push that as far as they can. Showdown is the next level of that and has finished up as highly refined Demolition Derby-like experience.
Obviously, times have moved on from the PlayStation days of Demolition Derby so Showdown needs to be more than that. At it’s heart Showdown has three core elements to it; speed, style and destruction. As you would expect the ‘speed’ is taken care of with race events, ‘style’ with DiRT Showdown’s evolution of DiRT 3’s Gymkhana – now called Hoonigan, and obviously the destruction by the modes more focused on destroying everything with wheels in sight.
Mike was quite open about saying that this is not DiRT 4, which will be returning to focus more on a credible motorsport experience. Codemasters just wanted to revisit that kind of festival vibe that existed in DiRT 2 and flesh it out a little more, as it was something that a lot of players really liked. When I heard Mike say that I instantly got what Showdown is about and it makes perfect sense. Let’s be honest, the DiRT series had become too big of a game; there was so much to do and the modes became such polar opposites that the only logically step would be to cut it down the middle. This way fans of that “credible motorsport experience” will get one they want with the next title without any of the over top fireworks, “awesome, rad, yeah dude” stuff and can get back to the “five left, over crest” dash through the trees in Finland. Fans of that festival experience now get their own fully-fleshed out game, and in time fans of Rally will get exactly what they want. It’s a win win situation and something that becomes evident when picking up the pad for the first time.
The list of modes available in Showdown is massive; Race off is one of the game’s more focused racing events but still emphasizes a lot of the destruction aspect – think banger racing on circuits with ramps and obstacles littered around the track. Knockout – my favourite of the destruction modes, sees you up on a plinth on a sumo ring of sorts with all the other drivers, with the sole aim of smashing the hell out of each other. Points are awarded for things like head-on collisions, T-boning and knocking opponents out of the ring, with the player with the most points being declared the winner. Race Off is more your standard affair race, and like rampage just without the ramps and obstacles. Hoonigan events sit somewhere between Rally Special Stages and DiRT 3’s Gymkhana events, with two cars starting off back to back competing on mirrored versions of an obstacle course asking you to drift around corners, donut around polls and smash through boxes as quick as you can – this was probably my favourite mode of the day. Finally there’s 8-ball, another destruction based event taking place on a figure of eight circuit… you can guess what happens when you all start crossing over.
Gymkhana fans will also be pleased to hear that Joyride is making a return to Battersea Power Station with just a few tweaks. It is now a little more focused and will tell you which challenge is next rather than leaving you guessing what you need to do, or fiddle about in the menu. It’s still just as open a playground as it always was so don’t worry about that, only now has a little more direction to it. There’s also a new area to Joyride around called Yokohama, which a few Grid fans may recognise. Actually thinking about it quite a few of the tracks and events we had the opportunity to play on have made appearances before in other Codemasters’ games this generation – they’ve just been tweaked a little to make them a bit more crash friendly. Codemasters were kind enough to give a sneak peek at some of the other modes that will make an appearance in Showdown, but asked us to keep them secret for now, so don’t worry it’s not just these few even though they are more than enough to keep you busy; what’s been shown is just the tip of the iceberg and there are plenty more to come.
Once the wheels hit the track DiRT Showdown has the same feel to the cars that we all know and love, and even when it boils down to the selection of fantasy cars to choose from that, you can just tell how they’re going to handle from looking at them. A tiny but significant feature that I was a fan of is the way that each car also has it’s own upgrade path, meaning you could in theory take the first car you get in right through to the game’s later stages by upgrading things like power, strength and handling. Don’t worry it doesn’t get all car tweaky and like everything else in Showdown the focus is very much on getting you on the track as fast as you can and upgrading a car is as simple as clicking on the selected stat to take it up to the next level.
One of the best side effects of this tweaked leveling system is that now when you take the fight online you can use pretty much any car you like without having to worry that everybody who has almost finished the game will be hooning around in one of the best cars. It brings a balance to online, enabling everybody to be on the same playing field and ultimately keeps it fun.
We’d spent the best part of the afternoon trying all of the different modes online against a few guys from other websites and had a massive laugh. There were screams of the most awful language you’d ever hear as somebody in first place was span out by the guy in second, and plenty of “ahahahaha! In your face suckers” as the person at the bottom of the leader board took first during the double points section of a knock out event. Ok, granted both of them were me but we were all really enjoying ourselves; online is going to be where Showdown really shines, striking the perfect balance of fun with competitiveness.
Showdown is gorgeous to look at; it’s fast, it’s fun and more importantly it’s not the half game I thought it would be. DiRT Showdown is the perfect game-night game, and one I can see myself playing for quite a while after it’s launch.DiRT Showdown Review,
Games are becoming much more of a social experience; I’m not just talking online while you’re playing either. Slowly but surely they are creeping their way into our everyday life allowing us to take the things we do on our consoles away with us and extend that experience. Some games to their credit do this fairly well while others don’t really try, it’s frustrating for me as a gamer. Why can’t I access all my stats, why cant I see everything my friends are doing while I’m not on the sofa racing with them? And why in God’s name do I have to sign up to another website for every game in a series to get the most out of my games, only for the developer to get bored of the service when the next game is out.
During our trip to Codemasters HQ in Southam last week for a look at DiRT Showdown they showed us their take on this kind of service, and thankfully I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Codemasters are setting out to fix all of those things that are wrong with the various ‘logs’; they’ve got something new on the horizon, something that we’ve all wanted for a long time but nobody has fleshed out enough, and something that we’ve not quite seen before.
Introducing RaceNet: a single online hub which will link all Codemasters’ games from now on. DiRT Showdown is the title kicking that all off, with more and more titles being added to the service over time as and when they release. The version of the website we were shown was of an incredibly unique design with a very playful, almost iPad/tablet-like quality to it. The layout is very simple, with the home page containing widgets that you can scroll left and right through acting as a kind of news feed. Here it will display videos that have been uploaded to YouTube from Showdown by you and your friends, details of upcoming challenges (more on these later) and news from Codemasters.
RaceNet is due to open for registration sometime between now and when Showdown’s demo is released on the 1st of May – obviously there won’t be too much in it to start with as a lot of the content is generated by its users. Signing up when it does launch will give you a few bonuses though, in the way of a unique livery for DiRT Showdown with another two rewarded for taking part in RaceNet events in the future, some bonus in-game cash to get you going and a founder status badge on RaceNet so that people know that you were there right from the beginning.
In the version we saw running, all of this content was pulled from DiRT Showdown as it’s the only title supporting RaceNet at the moment, but this home page will act as a hub eventually pulling in content across all of the Codemasters titles using the service. Across the bottom of the site lies the menu bar for the different titles which again only has DiRT Showdown in at the moment, but the Codemasters logos placed in the other tabs on the bottom menu bar are clearly waiting for other titles such as the F1 series and the “often teased but never officially announced” GRID 2 and DiRT 4 to be added in.
Clicking through on the DiRT tab takes us to what can only be described as a 3D interactive infographic. It’s built on a technology called Flare3D… a Flash based program. The iPad owner in me’s heart sank when I heard that, much like many of yours just did, but I’m not concerned too much, – Codemasters are going a long way to make sure RaceNet is everything it can be, and while they didn’t officially confirm the existence of an app, when asked about one our RaceNet guide James Nicholls said “What we’re doing for now is making sure the site looks awesome for when we first launch so it’s looking as good as possible. We’re pushing the visual quality first so it does mean that some of the older browsers and mobile browsers for things like the flash content wont show up straight away but we will roll that in, we just want to make sure it looks great first and get the service up and running.”
… Which is developer speak for “I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no.” It’s safe to assume there will be one at some point; the team building RaceNet are a bunch of gamers and tech heads just like you and I, so they know that for RaceNet to be the game changer they want it to be it’ll need to be available on as many platforms and devices as possible. They just don’t want to say so yet.
Codemasters intend on running regular challenges on RaceNet, and to tie into the launch of the demo they want us to drain a tanker of 300,000,000 barrels of fuel. It’s hard to get across from the image that we’ve posted what is actually happening on screen (and you need to see it running for yourself to appreciate just how cool it is) – in the background is a tanker filled with fuel, then as every player who is registered with RaceNet finishes an event their car pulls forward filling up with golden liquid, before driving off with it all sloshing about inside. Should the community manage to drain it then everybody who took part will get a badge of honor for their RaceNet profile.
Across the top of the site we’ll also have access to information about Showdown, and eventually when the game is released we’ll be able to view our progress in tour mode, take part in RaceNet events and compete in team championships. Behind the gloss of the RaceNet website Codemasters are tracking every tiny statistic about what players get up to in the game, allowing you to build up a list of friends and compare your performance to theirs over time.
All you need to do is sign up to RaceNet, link your Steam, PS3 ID or Gamertag (or all three) to your account and when you start playing any of the games RaceNet will be aware of you and start adding new info to your profile, building a history between you and Codemasters titles rather than starting again with a new version of RaceNet every time a new game is released. Codemasters were keen to stress that using RaceNet is optional, it’s not forced and you could play the whole of Showdown without signing up. The idea of RaceNet is to build on what is already there in the game, hopefully extending the life of the various titles by building on Codemasters’ already strong and quite loving community.
Codemasters are taking on the big boys with RaceNet – the bar is about to be raised for out of game experiences in one of those true landmark moments, so sign up as soon as you can and look smug with your founders badge when all the late comers start arriving.DiRT Showdown Review,
The ‘Boost For The Win’ video features the chaotic, full-contact, all-action racing set to star in DiRT Showdown. On the streets, in the snow and through the dirt buggies, saloons, muscle cars and more all go head-to-head in chaotic circuit races where drivers must charge ahead of the pack by any means nece... Read More »
“DiRT Showdown is not the sequel to the authentic rally-centric DiRT 3, but a brand new experience from the DiRT team,” said Julian Widdows, VP, development. “We’re building on Codemasters Racing Studio’s world-class strengths in track design, graphics, AI, damage and online to create a ne... Read More »
Brace your face for metal-bending, glass-shattering head-wrecking carnage in Go Hard Or Go Home — the second short in the series that takes you backstage on DiRT Showdown’s new world of motorised mayhem. Get ready to destroy or be destroyed as we dish the dirt on Showdown’s destruction events and get ... Read More »
The ‘Massive Damage’ video features work-in-progress gameplay footage and reveals the destruction-focussed game modes to feature in DiRT Showdown. In demolition derby event Rampage, eightracers take no prisoners, earning points for spectacular smashes on their rivals’ vehicles and eliminating other dr... Read More »
Welcome to What Goes On Tour — the first short in a series taking you backstage on DiRT Showdown’s new world of motorised mayhem. Get the lowdown on what you gotta do and how you’re gonna do it as you battle to become star of the Showdown. Powered by the award-winning EGO Game Technology Platform, DiR... Read More »