You know when a band or singer brings out a real classic tune, then they spend the rest of their career trying to make a better song?
Well that’s the feeling I get with CODEMASTERS latest offering DIRT: SHOWDOWN.
Now DIRT 3 is a tough act to follow and DIRT: SHOWDOWN is definitely not DIRT 4, it’s a sort of add on to DIRT 3 - maybe that’s why they didn’t call it DIRT 4.
OK so what do we have on offer here? It`s a simple crash and bang racing game similar to FLAT OUT ULTIMATE CARNAGE really, with various tracks and destructible environments.
Oh yes folks, as you would expect from CODEMASTERS there is plenty of content, but is it enough?
The first annoying thing about this game (there are others folks) is it sure wants you to play on-line and no matter how much you ignore it, the game will bombard you with pop-ups and comments asking you whether you want to tweet or youtube your gameplay, and you can`t turn this off!
It’s not all bad, though, the cars themselves are nicely rendered and the graphics are pretty good with lots of destructive elements, and the racing itself isn`t too bad with plenty of fireworks and ramps to jump over, plus plenty of carnage.
Of course, we see (or should I say hear) the return of the annoying and irritating voice-over that spoilt DIRT 3 for me.
What is it with this guy? He sounds like a local radio station breakfast DJ; do we really want to hear all his daft comments?
To top it all why can`t we mute the commentary altogether? You can the music, which isn`t as irritating, but the commentary can only be muted by 50%, so then it becomes like an annoying fly buzzing around your head.
The physics in DIRT: SHOWDOWN have been simplified significantly since DIRT 3 which spoils it for me. That was one of the great things about the game, having to hold on for dear life, as you hammered around like a nutter, now it’s just another sedate race simulation game.
I used my MADCATZ WIRELESS STEERING WHEEL for this game and it didn`t fair that well I am afraid. Why make a driving simulation game that doesn`t work with a wheel? I mean for example the HOONIGAN event which is another name for the GYMKHANA, requires “donuts” etc, which are nigh on impossible with a wheel!
The actual race choices aren`t particularly great with the usual demolition derbies, knock-out mode and crossover races all good for a short period of time, and all been done before.
The multiplayer part of SHOWDOWN is (as we are constantly reminded) the major element, but even that fails to shine, with glitches and the constant bombardment of new events quickly developing into a frustrating and again irritating series of events.
If you already own DIRT 3 then don`t bother with this game as it is just a mish mash of elements taken from FLAT OUT ULTIMATE CARNAGE and DIRT 3. There is nothing spectacular on offer here. It has potential but that never shines through.
DIRT: SHOWDOWN isn`t what us fans of DIRT want I am afraid. The lack of new ideas and the frustrating elements (especially the commentary) make for a mediocre race game. I wasn`t impressed with the incompatibility with my gaming wheel and the overall feeling of the game was disappointing. There are some nice elements within DIRT: SHOWDOWN but not enough to make the game interesting.
I give DIRT: SHOWDOWN 5 out of 10 because FLAT OUT ULTIMATE CARNAGE still does this much better, and that game is five years old!
Developer: Codemasters Southam
Age rating: 7
Release date: 31st May 2012