The Dirt series has always been a kooky marriage between Codemasters’ Colin McRae roots and the extreme (and extremely marketable) excess of ESPN’s X Games. Dirt Showdown dispenses with rallying altogether; instead it’s a showcase of arcade racing and trick-based showmanship, topped off with an overzealous announcer and wobbly dubstep.
Yet despite the focus on speed and destruction, Showdown is the most schizophrenic Dirt to date. The excellent car handling model that has evolved over the previous games – realistic yet accessible – sits uncomfortably against such arcade trappings as the purely cosmetic damage system or rechargeable nitrous. Boost slowly builds up as you drive, but to get a bigger increase you’ll need to ram, shunt and T-bone your way through the field. The problem is that bone-shattering crunches into another racer are as likely to put you sideways into a wall. The AI cars have a tendency to cluster together, so you’ll find yourself at the back of the pack before you’ve had time to adjust.
It’s a problem compounded by the lack of flashbacks, which in previous games let you rewind mistakes to have another go. In Showdown, when those mistakes are as much about luck as your own skill, losing this feature can frustrate. In the figure-of- eight circuits of 8-Ball mode, wrecking out at the last corner from a side-on hit is infuriating.
It means that in races, your best tactic is to ignore the additions and just race, using Boost in the few occasions that it’s available, but otherwise concentrating on a clean run to the finish line. Despite a lacklustre start on the bland Miami track, once you progress to later seasons and get to race on the snowcovered Colorado or neon-lit Tokyo, it’s a lot of fun. But this is ground that was covered before and better in Dirts 2 and 3.
Two other event types are included, each with their own set of cars to unlock and upgrade, and both feel more at home in Showdown’s roster. Demolition, including the destruction derbies of Rampage and Knock Out, and the Hard Target assassination mode, are romps of vehicular violence. Meanwhile, ‘Hoonigan’ events favour precision and skill, and as such are the only modes to feature flashback rewinds and licensed vehicles (including, brilliantly, a classic Mini Cooper). Gymkhana trick-runs make a return appearance, but the highlight is the Smash Hunt challenge. Here you target specific coloured foam blocks in a strangely compelling mixture of Simon Says and a driving test.
In all it’s a lot of game modes, spread out over multiple courses. But even with the variety, Showdown’s ultimately lightweight: you’ll fly through the campaign. It’s good, and at times even great, but comes across like an expansion to tide you over until the next proper release
Race, crash and hoon your way through a world tour of motorized mayhem in DiRT Showdown! Crowd atmosphere, social gameplay and accessibility are all ramped up in this turbo- injected shot of driving delirium. Smash down the accelerator and earn the adulation of frenzied crowds at hyper-energised events at iconic locations. Trick, speed and smash your way to victory, then do it again.
DiRT Showdown is now available for Pre-purchase on Steam and 10% off!
Race, crash and hoon your way through a world tour of motorised mayhem in DiRT Showdown! Crowd atmosphere, social gameplay and accessibility are all ramped up in this turbo- injected shot of driving delirium. Smash down the accelerator and earn the adulation of frenzied crowds at hyper-energised events at iconic locations. Trick, speed and smash your way to victory, then do it again.
UK-based Publisher and developer Codemasters have given up making shooters, choosing instead to focus on racing games. The company have launched a new publishing label - Codemasters Racing - that will be responsible for putting out Codemasters' upcoming games. They include the inconsistently capitalised but consistently good DiRT rally series, and the similarly speedy official F1 games.
Codemasters' comms chief Rich Eddy clarified the change to MCV. "In racing, we are number two in Europe and that’s not good enough. Racing is our DNA, it is our heritage, it is our specialisation and it is our absolute focus going forward." No clues as to where that leaves Dizzy in this shakeup.
DiRT Showdown will be the first gAmE (that's how you do it, right?) to be released under the new imprint. The change is surely a good move for the publisher. They're pack leaders in the racing oeuvre, but recent forays out of it haven't met with much success. A focus of assets and resources on the games they're best at makes sense.
We're happy to announce that DiRT Showdown will race into stores on May 24th across mainland Europe, May 25th in the UK and May 29th in North America. DiRT Showdown will be the first game to launch on the company’s new publishing label Codemasters Racing
To mark the news, we've released the ‘Ultimate Hoonigan’ gameplay video featuring the spectacular tricks and stunts players can perform in DiRT Showdown’s Hoonigan game modes. The video features Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta H.F.H.V Gymkhana 5 which features exclusively in DiRT Showdown, going head-to-head with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X JUN.
We're also extremely excited to announce that a 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 via the DiRT Showdown Steam store page.
The trailer above loudly announces that Dirt Showdown will be released on May 25. A demo will be released on Steam in a couple of weeks on May 1 if you fancy trying out Showdown's lively, arcade slant on the relatively serious rallying of the core Dirt games. That'll let us crash a selection of cars across a "solo and multiplayer event."
Showdown features rough and tumble races set amid boisterous carnival locations. Expect ramps, choke points, stunts and plenty of collisions. Previous trailers have shown crashes on the 8 ball arena, crashes in the midst of crowded night time contests and crashes during frantic midday bouts. If that's not enough crashing, there's a destruction derby mode solely devoted to dishing out points for big hits.
If you're to get hold of Showdown early, the "Hoonigan Edition" should be available to pre-order from Game and Gamestation, though the PC version doesn't seem to be there at the moment. The Hoonigan version comes with some extra car liveries, and online XP bonus and some extra in-game cash to spend on your cars. Check out the Dirt Showdown site for more.
Codemasters stopped by earlier with a preview build of Dirt: Showdown. It's living up to its billing as a more accessible, rough and tumble take on the carefully simulated physics of Dirt 3. You won't find any serious Rallying here, it's all about going wheel to wheel with your competitors, ploughing them into barriers and boosting past them to steal the win with brute force.
We'll have some more detailed impressions for you in a bit. Meanwhile, here's three new videos of three of the different modes available in Dirt 3, including your racing, demolition derby and more of the 8 ball circuit shown in the last Dirt: Showdown trailer. Click 'Read and Comment' for more VRRRRRM-SMASH.