Despite my dislike of the marketing tactics, I still bought DiRT. The Colin McRae series is one that I enjoy a lot and a next gen release was highly anticipated. Having spent a little time with it (about a quarter of the way through career), I have to say that I’m a little disappointed.
The XBox Colin McRae games were so great because they were very focused. They did one thing and they did it well and that was rally racing. That’s all it was. It was stage after stage of solitary rally racing, just you, your copilot and the road. The only time you’d see another car is at the end of the rally in a cross-over section and even then it was way off in the distance. You never directly raced against another car, it was only you versus the course. That’s the way I liked it.
DiRT, however, adds a whole bunch of different race types and vehicles in, what I can assume is, an attempt to appeal to a broader market. These new options never feel as if they belong in Colin McRae Rally, which likely explains the name change. If I wanted to do some Rallycross Racing, I’d stick with Rallisport Challenge (speaking of which, where is #3?). If I wanted to do a Rally Raid, I’d get a PS3 and Motorstorm. If I wanted to do CORR Racing, I’d–no, I don’t want to do any CORR racing.
Of course, all those point to point rally events are still there and the career mode is flexible enough to let you skip those events you really don’t want to do. But it’s not the same. By adding these expanded features they overlooked some of the great little touches that they refined over the three XBox titles. For example, while there are still leaderboards for every track and segment (a standard for most racing games now), what is lacking is the ability to download ghosts off of those top times. Indeed, ghost racers are completely removed from the game. In a pure time-trial driven game, as Rally should be, this to me is a glaring omission.
Colin McRae Rally 2005 was great and DiRT, while not exactly a step back, feels like a step in the wrong direction. With this series it’s always been “less is more”. DiRT feels contrary to that principle and it suffers because of it. I enjoy it, but overall I’m disappointed.