takes the franchise in a new direction, one that DiRT 3
strongly hinted at. Much of the core game has been cut out in favor of this new direction. Were you hoping for more rally, trailblazer, rallycross, and other well-known offroad game types? If so, this might not be the game for you. DiRT Showdown
seems to fancy itself a party game along the lines of Destruction Derby
. The ideas are good, and the execution is largely solid. But longtime players will notice that it largely jettisons what the franchise does best.
So there's no rally racing or anything of the sort -- what makes DiRT Showdown interesting? Well, it's got a tremendously diverse set of events to take part in. And very few of them settle into the format you might expect from a DiRT game, or any other Codemasters racing game for that matter.
Demolition events have a strong focus on destruction and physical competition. 8-Ball is one of the more interesting events; it's a closed circuit race that features several perpendicular track junctions. Once you pass it the first time, you'll swing around to cut across it. This is incredibly dangerous; drivers who are far enough ahead will encounter drivers making the first crossing. 8-Ball is often anyone's game, as several of the collisions that occur are difficult to recover from. Rampage is a straight-up demolition derby. Knock Out is a bit more interesting: it starts as all the cars leap up onto an elevated platform. The object of the game is to force your opponents off of the platform while staying on the platform yourself.
Hoonigan events take the Gymkhana additions from DiRT 3 to a new level. Trick Rush sets drivers on an open course to trick around as they please. The one with the highest score at the end wins. Head 2 Head is more of a Gymkhana race; each driver must complete the course while completing the assigned tricks in order.
There are two Race events: Race Off and Domination. Race Off is a traditional closed circuit race, while Domination splits each course into sectors. Whoever holds the best time for most of the sectors wins.
Last but not least are the Party events. The objective of Smash and Grab is to grab the loot and hold on to it for as long as you can without being hit by another car. Whoever hits the loot carrier steals the loot. Transporter is similar, but decidedly more of a Capture the Flag type of game. Speed Skirmish lays a number of checkpoints out onto the course and doesn't put them in any particular order. The first to collect all checkpoints and reach the goal wins. And then he/she can troll racers who have yet to finish. Fun.
DiRT Showdown's main single player component is Showdown Tour, four sets of varying events that increase in difficulty as your progress. You earn cash for performing well, which you can then spend on purchasing and upgrading vehicles. It's a tried and true template that still works very well with the racing genre. There are also a few exclusive game types in this mode. The most notable of these is Hard Target and Smash Hunter. Hard Target gives you a full health bar and looses a legion of vehicles on you. Stay alive. Smash Hunter lays a bunch of colored barriers on an open track. You must smash a certain number of the right color to succeed.
Joyride is an interesting throwback to the days when Tony Hawk games were actually good. You are set loose in a somewhat open environment to do what you want. However, that's not to say this mode has no guidance whatsoever. There are tasks to complete and items to discover. If you liked hunting gaps in the earlier Tony Hawk games, you'll be pleased to know that DiRT Showdown offers its own variant on that. Of course, you're in a car this time around, so the game can't be as demanding.
Multiplayer is probably where you'll be spending most of your time. You can play over Xbox Live or locally, but if you sign up for RaceNet, you'll be able to participate in special events. Multiplayer can consist of whatever you want it to; you can enter solo and team playlists that feature all or one of the game types. It's a flexible model that will keep you coming back to net more fans and cash.