DiRT 3 is the latest entry to the off-road and rally racing series made by the famous developer team Codemasters. These games, which are all available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC have built up an important reputation for their realism in physics and damage, gameplay, graphics and multiplayer experience both online and offline, and the third entry is no different. DiRT 3 is definitely the best rally game of the last years, topping the two previous games and taking the experience beyond anything anyone expected.
If we go back to the beginning of this gaming generation we will remember that the first DiRT game focused mostly on the rally type of races where you race alone on a beautiful landscape and compete against other racers’ times in the same track while DiRT 2 leaned a little more to the X-games events like Rallycross, Raid or Landrush. Well DiRT 3 balances everything to a perfect harmony while adding two new and very fresh race modes: Gymkhana and Drifting which fit into the gameplay perfectly and are extremely fun.
Gymkhana is a mode that has taken extreme fame in real life thanks to the excellent driver Ken Block who has become famous for posting videos in YouTube of him driving around a specific area doing impossible tricks as if he were a skateboarder, usually doing advertising for important brands like DC Shoes or Monster Energy Drink. In the game, you’ll be able to take a car and drive around a prepared area so you can freely do tricks like drifting, driving over rings and crashing over specific obstacles for points, this mode reminds people of the old Tony Hawk games a lot and as soon as you try it out you’ll see why.
In the drifting mode you’ll race alone in a track back and forth trying to do as much drifting distance as possible for points, the objective in this mode is not to reach the finish line quickly, but to score the more points while drifting, so you can actually finish last but still win the “race”.
Besides those, you’ll find the usual Rally, Rallycross, Trailblazer, Landrush and Raid modes from the previous two games. Landrush and Raid have been really simplified to the point that there’s only one vehicle available for these modes and they’re not very common in either single player or the online modes.
Graphically, the game is insanely good, I never really thought DiRT 2’s visuals could be brought down go easily but Codemasters managed to take the third game’s visuals to another level. All the tracks look like places you’d love to live in. The snowy mountains, deserts, jungles and even the ruined tracks from the Rallycross events are extremely beautiful, there almost no mistakes in the anti-aliasing and the lighting effects are incredible, making everything look very photorealistic.
The game runs at a solid 60 frames per second most of the times, even when several cars are on the screen at the same time which proves the great ability to develop games Codemasters has, especially for the racing titles they make.
The sound effects are incredible as well, the cars’ engines, cheers from the public, voice acting from the other drivers and music in amazing. Like in the previous two games, most of the tracks are punk and rock songs but they fit perfectly with what the game represents. If you’re lucky enough to play the game on a 5.1 audio system (or better), everything is going to sound as if you’re actually driving a rally car on a championship and the feeling is incredible, very little racing games manage to do this.
The gameplay is the best aspect from the game definitely; it’s very easy to get into but hard to master. Like most racing games nowadays, DiRT 3 has assists available for the braking; steering and can even show a very helpful recommended line to follow in the tracks. All of these can make the game very enjoyable to casual gamers or people who are simply getting used to the gameplay, which is usually very different from course-based racing games like Forza or Gran Turismo.
But when turning those assists off and making the AI a little more difficult is when the game is more enjoyable. There is even a mode that turns off all assists and forces you to play from the cockpit view, which is jaw-dropping and perfectly recreated for every vehicle in the game.
In the online multiplayer (which requires the now-famous online pass most of the developers are using now days) is where the real fun is at. You can play both ranked and unranked games with random people from the internet or your friends list. The game usually chooses the mode and track and you have the option to veto it if you don’t like what the game selected for you.
The multiplayer runs very smoothly at all times and is always filled with tons of people ready to race (and crash) you. I really see it as the best way to learn how to really play the game since the single player mode is usually more oriented to unlocking new things like cars, tracks and new contracts with better teams who pay you more for your wins.
For closing comments, I can say that DiRT 3 is definitely the best off-road racing game of this generation. Both the single player and multiplayer modes have enough variety to provide hundreds and hundreds of hours of gameplay to most kind of players. The graphics are some of the best in any console or PC game, same with the gameplay and sound effects. All racing game aficionados and gamers in general out there MUST try their hand at this game because it easily competes with Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5.
- Graphics, sound and gameplay are very realistic
- The events are always different, avoiding repetition
- Very competitive online multiplayer
- Beautiful landscapes make looking at the game just as fun as playing it
- You can’t choose what mode and track to play in the online modes
- There’s no penalty for people who play only to crash in the multiplayer.
Graphics and Visuals………..10
Music and Sound Effects……..9
Overall Score………………..9.5 / 10