By Wayne Webb
This is a driving game that you will either love or hate, I am firmly in the former category and I loved it from about two minutes in and never looked back. This is an arcade driving game so is not intended to be that realistic or simulation heavy, but it’s still a Rally game, so drifting and lack of control is what it’s all about.
One reason I love about this game is the Joyride gameplay. This is usually my first port of call in a racing game as I get to try the cars out and see how they handle and how you drive them. What I got were simple and easy to handle controls in an open space that you drive around like a maniac trying to beat records, skill up to perform challenges and collect trophies and collectibles. It’s like Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 – with a rally car. Gaps, stunts, hidden objects – the Joyride feature was really a joy to play. Imagine my delight to discover this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Campaign mode is four large multi-leveled sections where a top three placing will move you on until you complete the section. The modes and levels are not always self-explanatory if you are not a rally nut, but with a bit of commentary and a bit of experience you soon pick it up. Some levels are pure racing; others are exercises in destruction or survival. Sumo and Knockout, for example, place you on a large platform and you have to knock other drivers off for points, preferably while not driving off the edge yourself, which I did a lot of initially until I got the hang of it. Huge fun in cars!
Multiplayer is not limited to split screen but also opens you up to beating your friend’s cars savagely online as well. There’s so much to see and do with Dirt Showdown, yet it’s fun doing it all. This is a game that will get played often and will be just be for fun long after all the races and events are won and all the secret trophies and areas are unlocked.
The soundtrack is predictably thrashy, loud and repetitive but goes with the aggressive and violent nature of the game as you demolish car after car in. There’s a feature to upgrade your cars as you select them. I didn’t see it for the first few goes and as it was quite subtle with no explanation attached, I could have missed it indefinitely; so that could have been explained better.
I really am looking hard for things to pick on though, because this is just fun all round and if you like driving, fighting, destroying things, or going head-to-head in any kind of game with mates, then this is one of the better ones so far this year.
Pros: Destruction, speed, collection, varied gameplay and modes, multiplayer off and online, what’s not to love here?
Cons: Some things need extra explaining/instructions, music can get annoying.
4.5 Shacks Out Of 5