Review: Dirt Showdown – [Xbox 360]
Die Hard fans of the Dirt series may have a hard time excepting Dirt Showdown. This is not “Dirt 4”, gone are the off road rally events that have always made up the staple of the previous Dirt games. Gone also are the incredibly unforgiving physics and attention to realism. Instead Dirt Showdown is a new breed of game in the Dirt series. With its unorthodox racing events like Demolition Derby, 8 ball, and Hoonigan, it’s an “arcade” racer. It’s sole purpose is to be fun, pure and simple. If you can accept this then you are in for one hell of a treat because Dirt Showdown is hands down one of the most fun filled arcade racers I have played in a long time! If you feel that you cannot accept this then perhaps Dirt Showdown isn’t for you and you might be better served waiting for Dirt 4 instead.
Right from the get go Dirt Showdown throws itself into your face and never stops. With its extreme crashing and falling menu system there is no denying this is a Codemaster’s game. The menu and navigation are top notch and incredibly easy to navigate. The streamlined aggressive nature of the menu system extends into the gameplay itself. Because this is an arcade racer your HUD is very limited showing your position of course but instead of showing you your speed or RPMs you are given a health meter, showing how much health your car has till it falls apart, and a boost gauge that when used will refill over time. The HUD is straight and to the point just like the game itself.
The single player portion of the game features 4 different racing seasons to play through. Just like in any Dirt game you are given a small amount of money to buy your first car and will need to build up your bank account to unlock new cars. The game has three main types of events to compete in traditional racing, demolition and hoonigan with varying substructures to each of them.
Gymkhana is back once more but this time it’s listed under Hoonigan and its broken up into different events. Head 2 Head will see you and a rival competing in real life rally cars to navigate an obstacle filled short track in the fastest amount of time. You will need to finish each “trick” before being able to move on to the next section of the track. It’s basically a timed obstacle course for cars. In the other Hoonigan events you will essentially be doing the same thing, navigating obstacle filled courses but you will be racing against the clock or for the most points on a course instead of directly against an opponent.
Demolition events seem to make up a majority of Dirt Showdown’s event list. Spread out across four events players will take part in a true demolition derby event in which you will need the highest score at the end of the round to win. Slamming into other cars and utterly causing as much damage as possible will earn you points. Knock out is similar except this time the event takes place on a raised platform giving you the chance to knock opponents off for big points! Then there is 8Ball which is essentially a normal race consisting of you and 7 AI opponents except the tracks are in shape of 8s, adding the ability to run into each other in the cross sections and cause some serious mayhem to the race itself. Perhaps the most fun event in all of the Demolition sections is the Hard Target mode, essentially a reverse demolition derby. Players will need to survive as long as they can while the arena is filled with AI cars that are all seeking to take you out as a team. It’s a great game of cat and mouse as you wildly drive around the arena and try to keep the rest of the cars from smashing into you. In each Demolition event your car’s health meter will whittle down with each hit you take or give, eventually leading to your vehicle’s demise. The good news is with the exception of Hard Target you can bounce right back into the gameplay with a new vehicle!
The game features a nice selection of cars to be used across the different events. Unlike in previous Dirt games a good majority of the cars here are fictional ones that have taken styling cues from real world counterparts. The hoonigan events feature real world cars such as the Ford Focus and the Subaru WRX, while the other events feature a wide variety of fictional offerings from things like hearses to dune buggies to even vans! There is also a nice medley of premade paint jobs to pick from as well. The paint jobs verify enough that you should be able to find one suitable to your taste for almost every vehicle in the game.
The Graphics in Dirt Showdown are top notch as you would expect them to be at this point in a Dirt game. The cars are lively looking and the tracks themselves are full of vibrant colors and plenty of background objects. Because it’s an arcade racer there are numerous things happening both on and off the track. Fireworks mark significant things on the tracks like ramps or checkpoints. Hot air balloons make up the skylight in some locations while bright and colorful buildings make up the walls in city events. The lightning engine is really at work here and Dirt Showdown looks great because of it.
The game also features some really great tunes with over 46 different tracks some of which have already made their way onto my Spotify account. With awesome music playing both on and off the tracks it makes navigating the already great menu system even better. Having good music in the game is essential particularly during the demolition events. It’s during these events that the live announcer will assault you with words and phrases like “awesomeness” and “oh look those two cars are kissing” as you lock bumpers head on with an opponent. The annoyingness of the announcer in these events knows no bounds but I suppose that was the effect they were going for here with such classy events as 8Ball and Demolition Derby.
Dirt Showdown does seem to show all of its cards a little too early. By the time you finish the first season you will have seen all the game has to offer as far as events go. The good news is that there is enough variation across the different tracks and locations for the most that part that is keeps things from every really feeling too stale. Event locations vary greatly from hot desert tracks to snow covered ones with blinding snow storms and even city streets in real locations like Miami and Tokyo.
The single player portion of the game feels a bit short and finishing up all four seasons should only take around 8 hours at the most. The good news is there is plenty to do outside of just the season play. The game offers up a Free Play mode which allows players to access the two main Hoonigan track locations. The full tracks aren’t open from the onset so players will need to do Gymkhana missions to open up the other sections of the track. Each location is also littered with hidden emblems to find as well, most will require the use of stunts to reach them.
Then there is of course the multiplayer portion of the game. The game offers up all of the events from the single player plus three Party events: Transporter, Smash & Grab, and Speed Skirmish. Each of them offer up their own unique gameplay and are equally fun! You can choose to go it solo or as team when it comes to playing online as well! You will earn XP while playing online that can used to unlock new paint jobs!
The Summary: Dirt Showdown takes a huge step outside of the comfort zone of the previous Dirt titles to create a truly fun arcade racer. While none of its individual parts are ground breaking or truly unique it’s nice to have one title that sums all of the experiences of traditional racing, demolition events, and gymkhana into one game! The game features some great music, great graphics, and truly fun gameplay both on and off line. With numerous vehicles to pick from and differing events there is something for everyone here.