DiRT Showdown has been with us for a couple of months now and from what I have seen it is doing pretty good in terms of popularity and sales, both of which have turned my attention towards giving it a blast after turning my back on it upon its release, was I right to ignore this game due to its more arcade style, or should I have embraced it like I did the more serious DiRT 3? well lets take a look.
Codemasters have been going through what I like to call an odd phase recently, a fact that stands out in Showdown with its even more in your face style that their other current gen racing titles, and that is saying something, this trend only seems to continue with the recent announcement of the F1 Stars game, which is essentially a Mario Kart clone with an F1 licence, I'm not saying it doesn't look fun, but its certainly a new flavour for Codemasters.
DiRT Showdown - Review
So with the dust of DiRT 3 now way behind us, this game has chosen to present us with a watered down arcade version of the rally world, gone are the wild point to point timed sections, precision breaking, vital gear changes and the yell of pace notes from your co-driver, well I say gone, what I meant to say was that these things are now all but nonexistent in DiRT Showdown. Instead we now have a simple point and go handling system, a never let go of full throttle thrill ride that requires very little skill to get to grips with, that's not to say it doesn't have its challenges, but they do seem to be few and far between. The pace notes have been replaced with a announcer than sounds too happy to be alive, as he yells "hip" and "cool" phrases that pan off like a mockery of something from the X-Games, it really can get quite annoying at time and this is only hammered home even more when you find out you can adjust all the volume levels in the game you want... except for his voice.
So with an annoying announcer, simplistic handling and literally nothing from the world of simulation racing, what does DiRT Showdown have to offer you ask? well the good stuff starts with the variety of events on offer, with intense races, demolition derby, hoonigan events and knockouts and more that keep the action varied throughout the games career and multiplayer modes, topped off with a free ride challenge mode that allows you to tear around areas like a shipping dock till your heart's content. At the best of times the gameplay has a strong air of the Burnout series to it, which is no bad thing in itself if you're a fan of arcade racers, there are plenty of races and challenges to keep you entertain for hours and while the opponents don't put up much challenge the races still maintain a high level of action throughout.
DiRT Showdown - Review
The best thing about this game though has to be its graphics, for all its toy like handling and verbal nonsense, the game really shines out on PC, taking advantage of the full pallet of DirectX 11 features, giving stunning reflections, lighting, beautiful backdrops and highly detailed cars throughout, even if you don't like racing games this one is worth rolling out just to show off your system. This is all helped by the almost ludicrous amount of track debris that is left for you to smash into and the seemingly endless amount of track side fireworks, it may be stupid, but it does look tasty.
The online multiplayer is a great addition to the game, but the only downside is that it doesn't offer anything new in terms of content and does tend to rehash the tracks from the main game, sure this isn't really a bad thing, but after playing through the career mode the tracks were starting to feel repetitive already, so I would suggest giving the multiplayer a go before you get too tired of the rest of the game to really appreciate it.
DiRT Showdown - Review
One thing I really enjoyed about this title though was its sound track, with a solid selection of rock bands and even a little dubstep to keep things varied, it all works well at keeping the fun level high, or at least until the announcer buts in like a novelty sat nav.
So in the end its a mixed bag of tricks, if you're looking to buy this game after playing the exciting and challenging DiRT, you're in for a shock at how basic this game feels to play, but if you're a hardcore fan of crazy action racing games like Burnout or Need for Speed, then this is going to be a big winner for you. The soundtrack is fantastic, the graphics are sublime, but its let down by slightly repetitive tracks and by being just a little too easy to complete overall. Would I recommend this game? yes, but only if there was a sale on Steam for it, and will I keep playing this game after I reviewed it, hell yeah, because as simple as it can be, it's still a lot of fun and at the end of the day, that's what games are all about.