|System: PS3, PC, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Codemasters Southam|
|Release: May 24, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Lyrics|
The differences in road surfaces aren't the only ones, though. You'll also be piloting a number of vehicles, from the tight and compact Ford Fiesta to the tall and lumbering trucks from the Land Rush events. Classic rally cars from the 60s to the 90s make an appearance also, and each of the vehicle types is distinct. The vehicles used for the Trailblazer events, for instance, handle like Le Mans prototypes created specifically for off-road racing, whereas the cars used for Gymkhana are made for chucking into corners at impossible speeds. That all of these vehicle types can exist together in the same game is a testament to Codemasters' handling model. And when everything goes wrong, which it will, Codemasters' signature rewind system introduced in GRID is there to help you erase your mistakes. The amount of vehicles, coupled with the variety of event types, makes a great recipe for replayability.
Visually, DiRT 3 is nothing short of beautiful. Codemasters put the EGO engine through its paces here, and while it's evident there isn't much more that can be done, the visual spectacle is truly impressive. The reflections are high-rez as well as believable, and the lighting is amazing. The difference between the warm, vibrant colors of a sunset and the cool, grey tones of a rainy afternoon at an abandoned factory really add to the overall character of the locations.
The sound design is also quite good. You'll be able to pick out the sound of gravel bouncing off of the undercarriage or the sound of tightly packed snow being compressed and then released as you and your opponents drive by. The music is tasteful and only plays while the menu is on-screen and during replays. One particularly appropriate track I happened upon was "Burn Rubber" by the Gap band, which played at the pre-race menu at a Gymkhana event.
The multiplayer modes, which include both splitscreen and online, offer even more ways to enjoy off-roading. All of the modes that are available in the single-player career are also available in multiplayer. In addition, there is a Party Mode. This includes Invasion, where players drive around and smash cardboard cutouts of robots while avoiding skyscrapers; Transporter, which does not involve Jason Statham but, rather, is a capture-the-flag variant; and Outbreak. Outbreak plays like a sort of zombie mode from a first-person shooter, in which one of the players is infected and his objective is to infect the other players by crashing into them. The last player who hasn't been infected wins.
There's very little that I didn't like about DiRT 3. In fact, the only thing that really stands out as an unpleasant memory from my playthrough was an occasionally long loading time here or there. These were so rare, though, that it almost doesn't warrant a mention. For the most part, the framerate stays right around 60 frames per second. I did, however, experience a slight drop on a race that took place at night and in the snow, which may have taxed the engine a bit. Still, even these gripes were so minor that they really weren't a bother at all.
All things considered, DiRT 3 is a game that should find itself in the home of every self-proclaimed fan of racing games. And for the rally enthusiast, the takeaway is that this latest entry in the DiRT series is a return to form that should be satisfying to the hardcore fan while inviting enough for anyone to enjoy.
CCC Contributing Writer