- Publisher: Codemasters
- Developer: Codemasters
- ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
- Genre: Rally Racing
- Pros: Great presentation; adjustable difficulty to suit any style; Gymkhana is fun; gets rid of most of the "xtreme" fluff D2 had; tons of content
- Cons: Progression system isn't as satisfying as in the past
Changes and Improvements
DiRT 3 has undergone some significant changes from DiRT 2. Now, don't get me wrong, we love DiRT 2, but the X-Games attitude of traveling around in your camper and the overall "dudebro" feel was pretty messy and unnecessary. DiRT 3 cleans things up with simple menus more like the original DiRT or GRID that puts the focus back on racing.
The second major change is that rally racing - real rally racing - and not all of the other exhibition-type events, are back as the main draw here. Point-to-point, time-based driving in all sorts of weather conditions (snow, rain, burning sun, etc.) and all types of lighting (day, dusk, night) make up the majority of the events here. There are still Rallycross, Head 2 Head, Land Rush, and those sort of events on closed courses, but traditional rally is the focus, which we definitely appreciate.
DiRT 3 also brings some new events as well. Dedicated drift events are a lot of fun. Gymkhana also makes its debut with surprising success. Gymkhana is precision driving on closed courses where you pull of drifts and spins around and over and through objects for points. It works amazingly well and is a lot of fun.
Aside from the career, which has tons of events across multiple disciplines, DiRT 3 also has all of the online modes you'd expect. You can tackle leaderboards or do staggered starts in rally events or play full 8-player rallycross races or 8-player Ghykhana events where everyone (as ghosts) are all sliding around on the same course. If you want to play locally, there is also 2-player splitscreen as well.
YouTube uploads have been added as well, so you can easily upload 30-second clips to share with the world. It is easy and relatively painless and the video quality is fairly decent.
For example, casual difficulty has all assists turned on (steering, braking, accelerating, no damage) and you can pretty much hold down the gas and never brake and you'll win easily against the lowest difficulty level A.I.. Keep the assists on, but crank the A.I. difficulty up, and you literally can't go fast enough to keep up. You have to wean yourself off the assists if you want to go fast and challenge the higher difficulty-level A.I.. On the other hand, when you start turning off the assists, precision control and dedication is required just to stay on the track. Whether you want an easy breeze through the game (which is still fun in its own way) or a challenging test of your driving skills, DiRT 3 offers both as well as any challenge level in-between as you get more experienced. You don't have to be a hardcore rally sim fan to enjoy it, and that is a good thing.
One final comment on the gameplay I want to make is that Gymkhana and drift events are really, really fun. Trying to find a perfect line and then driving perfectly is remarkably addictive and will keep you hooked for hours. Anyone who doubts Gymkhana really needs to give it a try.
Visually, DiRT 3 is amazing looking. The cars are amazingly detailed and have realistic damage, and the tracks look fantastic. Add in some snow or rain or the great lighting effects at the various times of day, and you have a really gorgeous looking game. As always, the in-car camera view is exceptional as well.
The sound is also very good. Each vehicle has a distinctive engine sound and they all are fantastic. There is quite a bit of voice work as your managers offer you encouragement during career or introduce new events, but it is kind of obnoxious.
In the end, there is no question that DiRT 3 is the finest offroad racing game on Xbox 360. It had a great foundation to build on with two already great DiRT games on the market, but Codemasters listened to what fans did and didn't like as well as added new tweaks and touches of its own to really make every aspect of DiRT 3 shine. It has the same great gameplay, but now more accessible, and with a slightly tweaked attitude and event focus that results in a better game overall. DiRT 3 is a ton of fun that we highly recommend for a purchase.