DiRT Showdown Preview
Simulation fans, look away. This isn’t for you. But fret not, because Codemasters will eventually deliver DiRT 4, which will be a return to authenticity and realism; their new project, Dirt Showdown is a fun, no-holds-barred spinoff. Recently revealed with a debut trailer (seen below) at the Spike TV Video Game Awards, the game flexes its high-octane arcade muscle. Hey, who doesn’t love Destruction Derby? Seriously?
Codemasters will present gamers with a “theater of racing” in Showdown, and it’s all about a flashy, extreme sports setting with multiple invigorating modes. Plus, they’ll toss in some of the Gymkhana events from DiRT 3, online multiplayer for up to eight gamers, and good old-fashioned two-player split-screen action. The pyrotechnics will make you think you’re at a metal concert, and instead of fine-tuned, true-to-life handling, this will be simpler and more accessible overall.
Therefore, nothing will be out of your reach with a little practice. Stunts are unsurprisingly a cornerstone of the Showdown experience, and they’re the central focus of the Hoonigan events. In these high-flying competitions, you can try three events: Smash Hunters, Trick Rush, and Head 2 Head. The latter is a trick throwdown between you and an opponent; highest score wins. Trick Rush is similar but you’re competing against a whole field, and in Smash Hunter, you gotta hit everything in sight.
The Demolition events sound even more entertaining. Hard Target should be a white-knuckle survival dash, as you’re the target and you have to escape the hunters. King of the Ring has all vehicles race to a central point; the ensuing catastrophic cash has to be a feast for the senses. Lastly, there’s the straightforward Rampage, which is classic Destruction Derby. There are also standard race events, too (Lap Attack, Eliminator, and Domination), so it seems all the bases are covered.
There’s one last aspect of the presentation to consider, and it’s a nod to the social networking explosion of the new generation. Joyride is a mission-based mode that lets you challenge friends, track the progress of your friends, and do it all via a system that will remind you of EA's Autolog. That right there can take up a ton of time. “He beat my score?! …damnit, I gotta top it.” It’s like a sickness; I remember it well when I first saw the Autolog in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and this probably won't be much different. Oh, and don’t forget that we get a mixture of licensed and fictional vehicles; cars, trucks and buggies.
The style and atmosphere of the game is designed around the impact concept. Even in straight-up races, you’ll be on courses specifically created to encourage mayhem; tight turns and open spots of the track will just beg for some chaos. Between the online multiplayer, Autolog-like mechanic, Demolition, Race, and Hoonigan modes, Dirt Showdown - like many racing games – should offer plenty of bang for your buck. And as we said, sim aficionados can just wait patiently for DiRT 4.
12/15/2011 Ben Dutka