Game Review: Dirt: Showdown (Xbox 360)
Dirt: Showdown is the newest racer in the Dirt off-road racing series. There are several types of driving splendor in this game which mostly revolves around smashing your opponents out-of-the-way to be the first across the finish line. Dirt: Showdown is set up a bit different from its predecessor Dirt 2. There are no long distance races this time around. Instead you race on combined dirt and/or pavement tracks which occur in a tour set up. You get to race in different locations around the world and though this was cool, by the end of the game I found it to be repetitive; same courses with increasing difficulty with each level. Though I found the game entertaining it was missing one element that I thought made Dirt 2 a great game; the point-to-point rally races that spanned some form of rugged terrain with jumps, drift opportunities, and fast action.
Dirt: Showdown tries to entertain the player with more of a destruction derby-style of racing. Even if you are racing a standard race you get kudos for knocking or spinning other racers out-of-the-way. There are three basic race methods: Racing, Demolition, and Hoonigan. Each method expands with certain twists that are often entertaining, but sometimes frustrating.
For the racing modes, you have your standard races where your objective is to come in first place. Domination sets four track zones where you get points based on how fast you complete each section. Your goal is to race fast and maintain that lead in each section, so using your boost capability sparingly is key in this race. Elimination is a frantic style where at certain timed intervals you need NOT be in last place or you are out of the race. Of course, your objective is to finish first without being eliminated.
There are four different types of demolition races…which I found most entertaining on this edition of the Dirt series. In Hard Target, it’s survival of the fittest. Everyone is trying to smash you into oblivion for a certain amount of time. Avoidance is a key factor here, but that’s often hard to do. Invest in a strong vehicle and you will do well. Rampage is your basic arena demolition derby. You are awarded points by smashing into other cars as hard and frequently as possible. Knock Out is pretty much the same as Rampage except you are on an elevated platform and you get extra points for knocking a car off the platform. 8-Ball is by far my favorite event in this game. It is just as it sounds; a race on a track in a figure of eight. So, the likelihood of smash-ups and crash-ups at intersections is quite high.
There are three types of Hoonigan races. For these, they seemed to be really easy or really hard and mildly frustrating. Trick Rush is where you are given a limited amount of time to rack up points by doing donuts, smashing barriers, hitting jumps, and drifting. This event is quite frustrating until you find the right vehicle with good handling. Head-2-head is where two cars race and perform certain tricks along the track as you go. It’s a short point-to-point race and if you miss performing a trick points are taken away. The last race, Smash Hunter, is where you drive your car hitting colored barriers. You need quick hand to eye coordinating to make this one because the game tells you which color barrier to drive through. Mostly, the race is pretty linear, but if you spin out a little bit you regain control and may find yourself staring at a multitude of colored barriers. A car with good control helps here.
Dirt: Showdown is not a bad game, but it didn’t take long to get through. There is no simulation here, it’s a basic arcade racer. I miss the rally racing feature most, but some of the demolition events made this game worth it and fun to play. Racing on the tracks provided did get monotonous because as you advance from Pro to Legend you race on the same tracks over and over. As you progress, you race more laps and the AI’s ability increases with you. It would have been nice to be introduced to newer tracks as the game progressed.
I did NOT play this game online. I find racing games can be frustrating to play since many racing gamers tend to be kids who like to screw around instead of trying to play the game as intended. Overall, it is a fun game, but definitely wait for the bargain bin price, borrow it, or rent it over a long weekend. Dirt: Showdown is a good time for a short time.