Colin McRae may not be the rallying force he once was, but his games always take pole in the sales charts.
Debuting on Sony’s aging PS1, the series has always been about flinging your motor around a series of muddy bends. While other titles have added the likes of faster stripes and turbo boosts as they’ve evolved, McRae focused on doing one thing well and reaped millions as a result.
With the switch to next generation consoles, McRae’s developers have finally given in to temptation and added more kinds of off road action.
We’re hoping this system seller of old doesn’t turn into a dull jack of all trades and master of absolutely bugger all.
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McRae’s always been something special to look at so let’s start there.
Graphics wise, DiRT is pretty much comparable with last week’s five star racer Forza Motorsport 2. Every bit of dirt and gravel your tyres kick up will stay on your car till the end of the race. Expect your flatmates, kids and partners to gawp as you control a seemingly real car with your joypad.
All this realism comes at a price though. The 360 version we tested suffered more than a handful of frame rate jutters as things got busy on screen. Most of the time it’s just a slight split second distraction, but if it hits halfway during a long slide around a corner that leaves you spinning out, you’ll be screaming blue murder.
DiRT’s much bigger than its predecessors. While race against the clock rallying remains our favourite discipline, it’s one of only six modes within the game. A special mention has to go to the "CORR" races although we’ve yet to see any flaxen haired Irish pop starlets in the crowd.
There’s tens more vehicles to choose from too. As well as the usual rally cars, there’s even huge big rigs to get to grips with and fling around corners.
All this would mean sweet nothing if the driving itself wasn’t up to scratch. Luckily for all of us, McRae is right up there with the best. Throwing rally cars around muddy bends in the rain is something most of us would love to do in real life. DiRT, thankfully, gives us the perfect video game representation.
Don’t go getting too over eager though. The realism continues with the damage model so expect some pretty beat up cars during your first few races. Fenders bend and break off and just one big collision on the most realistic settings is enough to leave you in a ditch and out of the race for good.
Aside from the odd judder, DiRT has one other downside. The multiplayer just doesn’t cut the mustard. After Forza 2 you’d have expected frenzied head to head racing, but all DiRT can come up with is a few time trials. It’s a huge miss and hopefully one that’ll be rectified at a later date.
So DiRT’s not quite as good as Forza 2, but it comes close. And if you prefer to get a little muddy, fill your boots.