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DiRT: Showdown Preview

by Diogo Miguel April 19, 2012

There’s not much that hasn’t been seen in racing video-games. This becomes even more apparent with popular ones that get lots of sequels. DiRT has managed to steer clear of this curse by focusing on features that aren’t usually in the spotlight.

It’s impressive considering that it is a re-branding of a much loved series. DiRT Showdown is another attempt at revitalizing the series but is it swerving in the right direction?

DiRT Showdown is not the typical experience when compared to the previous installments. It takes itself less seriously in order to cater for a wider audience. This doesn’t mean that it has changed the very essence that makes DiRT so popular. Showdown is made up of challenges that are unlocked by obtaining enough points; which are earned from winning ones already unlocked.

One of the first challenges players will face is the traditional Race Off. The twist is that paths are narrow and there’s also obstacles to take into consideration. This is all part of a plan to encourage players to crash into other vehicles. Vehicle collisions make it possible to charge the boost meter. It’s a new feature in DiRT which adds an element of surprise to each race.

Being at the front of the pack is vital but it means not being able to use any of the boost power. This basically means that other vehicles can then catch up with the player. It’s all very exciting and one of the best new features in DiRT Showdown.

Crashing into other vehicles will obviously damage them and eventually leads to absolute carnage. Any vehicles taken out will remain behind to provide further obstacles. It’s an interesting idea that makes for a unique take on racing. All vehicles have their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s all about picking the one that has a better chance of surviving a challenge.

Money is earned after completing a race and is used towards upgrades(like vehicle speed) and unlocking content. It’s refreshing to see a video-game that doesn’t rely purely on post launch content to keep players motivated.

There’s a few other challenge types that are just as exciting as Race Off. Rampage is pretty much like a death-match with race cars. The objective is to crash into other vehicles by using the boost power.

Check out the new trailer for the Hoonigan Exclusive Edition

This is all contained within a small arena so that the focus stays on the crashes. Points earned depend on collisions and how the player takes out other vehicles. It all builds up to the final two minutes which are reserved for a double points extravaganza. This is one of the more exciting challenge types and will keep players coming back to increase their scores.

Knock out is another of the challenges shown and it basically involves staying on top of a platform. The overall score is incremented over time but only if the player vehicle is on that platform. It’s not so simple though since forcing opponents off the platform will mean even more score points. The opponents will also try to knock the player off and it literally turns into survival of the fittest.

The final challenge type demonstrated is aptly titled Eight Ball. This is a typical race with an interesting twist. Each lap brings a new layout to the race circuit so that the player doesn’t know what to look out for. There are points in the lap where sections of the circuit connect.

The probability that it will end in carnage is very high. Which is why use of the boost power is recommended for these sections, so the player doesn’t collide with other vehicles. It’s yet another exciting new way to race and proves that Codemasters is committed to offering new experiences to new and long time fans.

All of these challenges are set in exotic locations around the world like Miami. This makes it possible to add lots of colorful props to make the surroundings less dull, like in real life races. It’s also important to say that only licensed cars don’t get damaged.

The YouTube upload feature is back and has a limit of thirty seconds. It’s certainly entertaining to look back at replay clips and see some of the bizarre racing moments. What is most important is the fact that DiRT Showdown is easy to get adjusted to. This is all down to the arcade like racing controls that make it fun to take part in challenges.

DiRT Showdown is not the typical DiRT experience but it’s not something that fans need to worry about. It’s clear that the development team worked hard to cram a lot of original ideas into this new DiRT.

The result is a new instalment that is bound to please both fans and newcomers. DiRT Showdown is not just another sequel and has a lot of potential to become the next kind of racing experience.

Codemasters also announced that the playable demo of DiRT Showdown is due to launch worldwide from May 1st. The demo will feature a solo and multiplayer event and will be available from Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Steam on PC.

DiRT Showdown will be available May 25th for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.

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