Dirt Showdown PS3 review

Dirt Showdown

Dirt Showdown PS3 review.

As it arrives on PS3, blaring out hair metal and throwing devil horns at everyone with its festival atmosphere, fireworks and crash-heavy race modes, hopes are high for Showdown. Why? 1) Dirt titles have been as consistently enjoyable up to this point as they have full of Californians in New Era caps, and 2) we’re pretty starved for quality racers right now.

Looking at the game’s speedy development time (we’re told it was born in August last year) and not-quite-a-sequel status, it might seem a bit like sizeable DLC in a full game’s clothing, but a few hours spent exploring the many variations of Showdown’s speed, style and destruction events shout down those concerns.

Here’s where it differs from previous outings: the vast majority of cars are unlicensed, meaning Codemasters is free to smash them up without lawyers having aneurysms. The speed events – as close to Dirt 3’s racing as Showdown gets – actively promote this wanton destruction by littering tracks with barrels, barriers, ramps and crossover sections.

These races and their vicious AI competitors want you to lose your no-claims bonus so badly. Sometimes the tight, aggressive pack racing gets controller-throwingly frustrating, but the same mechanics that ‘stole’ first place from you on the final lap of this race let you nab a win via vehicular manslaughter in the last race. It’s the fine line between success and failure that keeps you coming back, purple-faced or not.

 

dirt showdown new ps3 info screens newsThe every helpful time-bending Flashback feature from previous Codies’ titles is in play  again here, this time called (don your pun-proof vests) Crashback, and although it remains one of the superior advances in racing game design this generation, it’s not available in all modes. Annoying, since it’s such a godsend when Ken Block screws you out of a Hoonigan event (think Tony Hawk tricking, with more CO2 emissions) or you’re cornered and gang-smashed by a bunch of hippie vans in Rampage (destruction derby) mode.

It’s actually these two event types that provide the more compulsive playability – in style events the hook is perfecting a course full of drift and donut opportunities, while in Rampage your sole objective is to bash everyone else into a fine paste, whether in a traditional muddy arena or sumo wrestling-style raised platform (the latter is the most fun you can have in a car without Jeremy Clarkson tied up in your boot, playing Eminem’s Stan but loudly shouting ‘Jeremy’ over the lyrics where appropriate).

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