After the heavy focus on American Motorsports in the previous game.. Dirt 3 keeps it real and brings back the spirit of Rally and keeps the Colin Mcrae ethos.. 'When in doubt.. flat out"
You can tell Codemasters have made a concious effort to shift this game more aching to the original Dirt title.. from the music, the menu's to the large collection of Rally related events.
The Dirt tour consists of four seasons... each containing a variety of race-types including Rally, Rally Cross, Trailblazer, Head2Head and the new event: Gymkhana. Landrush takes a back-seat this time however. There is a level up-system in the form of reputation. Every race you compete in gives you rep points and Racing company's will approach you depending on your reputation and offer you a chance to drive for them and gives you access to more cars. As you progress through the tour it becomes more challenging and several events give you the option to choose cars from different era's such as the 70's and 80's. There are lots of different cars but to be honest there is very little difference in performance and handling of the cars. Some however are more noticeable than others.
Gymkhana really makes this game! Its Freestyle and creative which involves using your skills to drift, spin and circle around obstacles. Its great fun and it can be a real challenge to get the platinum medals. The idea is to string moves together to get the points racking up. This game mode has kept me hooked for hours so far. There is a free-play area for this game-type as well to practise and hone in on your skills - In addition there is a list of "missions" for you to keep yourself busy with such as "Spin around the digger twice" or "Drift under the trucks".
The great thing about the dirt series.. anyone can play it. You can make it as hard or easy as you like. In Dirt 3 at the start of every race you can tweak a variety of car assists and A.I difficulty without sacrificing any rewards you get in the game. So you can make it hardcore.. no drive assists make the A.I brutal and fix to the cockpit view or you can whack all the assists on and casually play it for fun and enjoy the atmosphere and environments !
The graphics are superb and the addition of whether effects is a great bonus. Rain and snow splash onto the game camera and adds extra dimensions to the locations and it can really effect your handling. The only gripe is some of the lesser known cars have poorer textures but really you don't notice it when your actually driving. The whole game is a visual treat!
I've been unable to cover the multiplayer side of the game due to the PSN issues but I've heard good things about it. Capture the flag and the zombie tag modes look especially fun !
A few downsides to this fantastic title is the loading screens between each race are a tad on the longside. In Dirt 2 during the loading screens it would display random stats of your driving career to keep you distracted but oddly Dirt 3 doesn't provide this. So the loading screens become more apparent. Also a number of in-game voices give you advice and keep you up to date with events but its a bit pointless and doesn't provide much to the game.
Overall this is a fantastic addition to the Dirt series and keeps it real by bringing Rally into the spotlight once again. At the same time its innovative enough to mark its name with the addition of Gymkhana. While in previous titles it could become repetitive this game provides so much variety its hard to get bored with it!