|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sumo Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In terms of audio, Dirt 2 is a bit of a mixed bag, but then again the PSP has never really been known for its amazing sound capabilities. Cars don't exactly sound great, and most of them are kind of whiny and high-pitched. However, they are distinct, and I think that's the more important thing here. You can tell the difference between most cars just because of the noise their engine makes, which is a pretty solid feat for a handheld game. Furthermore, as cars traverse the course, the sound of their engine changes depending on the movement and position of the car. Obviously, if a car is in mid-air (or at least is elevated to take the stress off the wheels) the sound of the car is different, and the sound effects in Dirt 2 work perfectly well to reflect that.
That said, this game would have seriously benefited from an in-race soundtrack. As it stands, there is nothing to hear during a race than the whir of the engine, and it can get pretty lonesome after a longer race.
The controls are quite well-executed on the other hand, and I very much appreciated the way the developers essentially stacked two completely separate controls schemes operating at once. At any time you can switch between the right trigger and the X button to accelerate. Braking is also mapped to both the left trigger and the square button, and you can steer with either the analog nub or the D-Pad. I found this to be a particularly great thought, because when playing for any extended amount of time on the PSP a gamer's hands are almost certain to get cramped and begin to hurt. Having two control schemes to switch to easily allows people to change their grip and use different muscles in their hands when it starts to get uncomfortable.
One of Dirt 2's strongest points is that all of its cars are drastically different. These are not just the same cars re-skinned to make it look like a truck. Every car not only looks different but has a different play style as well. It adds a considerable amount of variety to what otherwise would have been a pretty bland game. From big lumbering trucks with bouncy shocks to ultra-fast race cars, Dirt 2 offers great variety.
At $30, Dirt 2 on the PSP is cheaper than most PSP racers but is still a questionable value. Overall, the game probably won't take you more than 5-6 hours to complete, and some of that content can be very frustrating. If you're a patient racing fan who doesn't mind the old-school style racers in which a single mistake at any point in the race can cost you the win, then you'll be able to look past Dirt 2's frustrating moments. However, if you're easily miffed, this probably isn't the best game for you.
CCC Freelance Writer