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Colin McRae: Dirt 2 (Xbox 360)

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Genre: Driving & Racing / Video Game for Xbox 360 / To Be Announced / ESRB Rating: Teen / Release Date: 2009-09-11 / Published by Codemasters Limited

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      02.08.2010 23:11
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      If you like racers, you need this game.

      Awesome.

      If one word could gain the dooyooMiles, that would sum up this game. Before the DiRT series came along, the 360 was seriously lacking in decent racing games and had no rally games worth mentioning. Yes, PGR is a brilliant racer, but it focusses on tracks - and lets face it, off road racing is so much better.

      This follow up to DiRT is certainly worthy of Colin McRae's name, with cars which feel like proper rally cars. They respond differently on each surface in a way which surpasses the feedback in any other game - if you get a steering wheel, you'll feel like a proper racer.

      The campaign is huge, with loads of countries to race in and tons of races from rallies to truck raids. There's also the handy feature known as flashback, where for a limited number of times a race (depending on difficulty) you can reset your car by five seconds if you happen to destroy your car. While it may take some of the challenge out, it does allow you to be more reckless - which is, lets face it, the fun of a rally game.

      In all, if you're at all into racers then this is the game for you.

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      18.04.2010 18:42
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      A MUST HAVE FOR ALL GAMERS!!

      After playing Colin McCrea Dirt 1 all over the Christmas period and into the New Year, I very wisely decided to invest in Colin McCrae Dirt 2 and to be honest it is absolutely the best £40 I have ever spent. I love racing games and love playing the Xbox so this game totally had my name written all over it!

      The best element of Dirt 2 is that even though it can be quite tough when you first begin the new tracks, it is completable and you can play at whatever level you feel comfortable at.

      Dirt 2 is a round the world tour so you will be racing in many different countries and the weather conditions are simulated perfectly, so watch out for the rain or the sun shining and adapt accordingly! In my opinion this was great as you felt like you were getting to see a little bit of the world, it made me feel like a jet setter!

      When you first turn Dirt 2 on, a map will appear and you can view all of the events that you have been invited to attend. You begin racing at small local events, and as you build your reputation, you are then invited to attend global tournaments. This element worked for me and I think that for someone who loves racing games like myself but is not a total pro, this hierarchy system gave me time to build my confidence at my own pace, rather than being thrown into really hard tracks from the beginning and ending up beating my head off a brick wall and throwing the game out of the window!

      As you work your way through the game, you gain experience (xp points), the more you gain, the more vehicles and events you unlock. Along with xp you will also generate cash for competing in events, you can use this to buy new vehicles and upgrade your existing vehicles. I thought that this was good as it gives you something to work towards and spend your hard earned winnings on!

      Even though Dirt 2 is a 1 player game, which personally I feel is a bit of a let down, it does actually have a multiplayer function which enables you to compete against other competitors on xbox live.

      For the more laid back racer, you can have a little fun having a jam session or you can compete in the pro tour mode. The racers on live are of a very high standard so in my opinion even though I win the odd race, I will never be in the worlds top 10! At any time you can check your stats and racing history and you can also view the Dirt online leaderboards. Also, Dirt 2 only requires 400kb to save all those winning times!

      As in Dirt 1, before you race you get to choose from the available vehicles that you have. All of the stats on the vehicle are displayed which is good. It is my advice not always to go for the fastest car as the more powerful the car, the harder to control - this takes practice and experience to enable you to utilise the vehicle to its maximum potential.

      As with most Xbox 360 games, the graphics are of a very high standard in Dirt 2. One of the many additional functions that Dirt 2 has from Dirt 1 is that throw downs are also incorporated into the game, this is where other drivers can challenge you to beat their fastest time on the track, and in return you will win money and gain influential friends.

      There are three different types of throwdown, in a one on one its just a versus race. A shootout throwdown means that you have to finish in third or higher to win and the timed throwdown challenges you to beat the time. I personally prefer the one on one because you can see if you are winning throughout the laps and if not it hopefully makes you pull your socks up in time to win!

      There are a lot of different racing disciplines within this game, rally, raid, landrush, trailblazer and rallycross. My favourite of the disciplines has to be rallycross. I love this track as you are racing on a level surface, one minute you could be on tarmac having a smooth ride and the next second you are on a dirt surface. I find this a real test and it is one of the faster types of race.

      Dirt 2 also hosts a few special modes within the game. Gatecrasher is one of my favorite special modes and this basically involves skill and control on a course against the clock. There are scattered barriers along the course and each time you hit one of these you gain a time bonus. The object is to complete the course within an allocated time.

      Domination is also another special mode, however I did find the elements of this a little hard to grasp. The object of this mode is that the track is split up into different sectors and you get points for dominating each sector over a total of multiple laps - sounds straightforward (its really not).

      Another one of my favourites is the last man standing mode. Basically a timer comes up on the screen at intervals during the race, and the driver in last place is eliminated until there is a winner. This is frantic as everyone is panicking to overtake each other and is lots of fun.

      There was one element of Dirt 2 that initially disappointed me when I first learned about it, and this is a flashback. Basically what this means is if you crash you can rewind and when you hit play you can start from an earlier position to avoid the crash! Cheating or what? Well at first I thought this was cheating a little but after a while flashback did save me now and again and help me win a race or two but as a general rule I only use it when I really need to and try to keep it to a minimum.

      In summary, Dirt 1 was the first game that I played on Xbox live and I love Dirt 2 for also. It is amazing being able to race people from all over the world with a headset on, and when you do this from a gaming chair it is heaven! In my opinion, Dirt 2 makes you feel that you are right there in the car, and it is scary how 'in to it' you get.

      Beware this game is highly addictive and a fantastic game. The only problem that I had with it was that once I had broken the wrapping I was constantly playing it and dreaming about it at night until I completed it. To be honest though I also found that it is good value for money, the game is quite complex and does take time to complete. It really annoys me when I spend £40 on a game and it only lasts me a week!

      I also loved the soundtrack that the game has, I found that I was singing this in my sleep too!

      I would highly recommend this game to anyone, even if you do not generally play rally or racing games, you will get into this game very quickly, the controls are easy to use and it is very user friendly.

      The game is straightforward, the aim is simply to win!!

      5/5 a must have!!

      and if you buy it........good luck!! (not with the races by the way, with the other half - if they are not into gaming you could be in trouble!)

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      • More +
        21.02.2010 14:19
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        An unparelled arcade rally experience. A must-have.

        Colin McRae DiRT 2 is a straight-up incredible racing experience. Encompassing different racing styles from across the sport, DiRT 2 sacrifices some realism in favour of entertainment.

        The main thing that hits you when you first load up the game is the breathtaking presentation and graphics. Okay, maybe the menus aren't the best things to judge a game on, but this presentation runs throughout the game, and it really is better for it.

        But this would count for naught if the gameplay wasn't up to scratch, Fortunately, it is. If you were a fan of the original or GriD, then you'll love DiRT 2 - the same kind of events are in here, along with novelty ones such as 'Last Man Standing' and 'Domination'. However, problems may arrive if people want to try the DiRT series out after enjoying the official WRC games - don't expect the same experience here. WRC's simulation gameplay is completely different to DiRT 2's semi-arcade stylings, and long-time WRC fans will be disappointed with the number of official racers in DiRT. I recommend checking out the first DiRT on the cheap before spending £30 on DiRT 2 for these people.

        Online isn't as popular as it was, but you can still get into some great races but, although idiots who deliberately crash into you are eventually penalised, there are enough of them to annoy you after a while.

        On a whole, DiRT 2's arcade-like experience is second to none on the 360. If you want simulation, try Forza 3.

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        09.02.2010 10:57

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        Great game

        Colin McRae Dirt 2 is an immense game and is a testament to the legacy Colin McRae has left behind. I loved the first Dirt game and this is even better. The racing itself feels perfect, the steering, sliding, breaking and grip levels are all what you would expect from a classic racing game. Playing the world tour mode, you will play a variety of modes such as rallycross and gatecrasher. Rallycross is set on short circuits with a mix of dirt and tarmac surfaces. Gatecrasher is set on rally stages but is timed and as you crash through the gates you earn more time. This really tests your ability to control the turning and speed around the whole stage. I personally feel that the Forza games are the best for track racing but for an off road outlook you really cannot beat Dirt 2. The choice of cars, trucks and buggies is vast enough to prevent boredom of racing the same vehicle. If however you are getting bored you can mix it up with different paint jobs for the cars and even trinkets such as skulls and dice to liven up the interior of your pride and joy. Overall, Dirt is a fantastic game that will please any true racer/car fan, the only thing i dont like is the rewind feature that allows you to rewind if you crash and continue the race from before you crashed. This is fine but i believe it has no place in a racing game.

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        15.01.2010 20:44
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        Must buy for racing fans.

        As a massive fan of the Colin McRae Rally series since its inception and an admirer of the man as a racing driver, the best thing Codemasters can do is drop his name from their product, the otherwise excellent Colin McRae Dirt 2 because after his death it can't help but leave a bitter taste in the mouth, no matter how good the game is. And it is fantastic. Technically marvelous like you'd expect after the wonderful Race Driver Grid with both titles blowing most first party titles on 360 and PS3 out of the water which is very rare for a multi-format title.

        Dirt is an accurate summary, it's all offroad but only a small part of it is still point-to-point-against-the-clock-on-the-limit rallying. While it lasts, it's wonderful. The package is fleshed out by good but not great trailblazing and hill climb events where you feel more at the mercy of the AI drivers because of the floaty nature of controlling these vehicles.

        In spite of some disappointing niggles for me, the direction the series has taken has probably been a big bonus for some and my criticism doesn't lie with the game, but the fact that it's not the game I used to love.

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        07.01.2010 12:52

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        Dirt 2 is the best rally game available, the £20 price tag is not to be sniffed at.

        Dirt 2 is easily the best rally game available, it has a large variety of cars, including rally cars, rally raid trucks and buggies.

        The game has amazing graphics with great dust effects behind the cars. The cars also feature basic damage models, no deformation but parts of the car can break off.

        The games tracks vary in location, spread across the world, from America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

        There are various types of race types in Dirt 2, Rally, Rallycross, Trailblazer, Rally Raid and Landrush.

        Rally is on your standard Rally tracks, the objective is to compete for the best time on the stage.

        Rallycross events are taken place inside a stadium, or an enclosed circuit, were 8 drivers must all drive simultaneously for first place.

        TrailBlazer takes place on hill climb type tracks, often involving driving through forests or deserts were the track is not so easy to make out.

        Raid races are usually taken place rally style dirt tracks, and involve 8 Rally Raid Trucks driving simultaneously for first place. The tracks are in the same point-point style as a Rally track.

        LandRush uses the same vehicles as the Raid events, however are taken place on circuits similar to that of the Rallycross events.

        The game does not feature any local splitscreen multiplayer, but features up to 8 player system link and online events.

        Probably the biggest downer for me was the like of a split-screen mode, none of my friends owned this game, so I had noone to play with, which was a shame, DiRT 3 however does have a 2 player split-screen mode which helps the game immensely in my view.

        Overall the game is great, has realistic physics, the cars feel great to drive, the replays are fun to watch, they've managed to make it relatively easy to look good in a replay. The variety of events also help the replayability, if it had just been rally, I could have imagined myself getting bored with the game quickly. The mix of new and classic rally cars it also a nice touch, it's great to drive a Ford Escort Cosworth in a new video game.

        Now that DiRT 3 is out, you'll probably want to use that instead, it has better physics, graphics, features and harder AI.

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        05.01.2010 22:02
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        Best Racing game out

        Colin Mcrae games have had the nack of being the best rally games around for a while now, and they continue to impress people with yet another stunning gaming. I didnt really enjoy the first Dirt game on playstation 2, but I decided to give Dirt 2 a chance and I was left shocked by the brilliance of this game. It not a totally pure rally game, which may leave some fans disappointed, but the new racing modes add much needed variety to the game.

        The set up of the main menu is a great feature of the game which makes it unique, it consists of a caravan that you take around the world as you travel to race in different venues across the earth. When you start the game you will be racing as a nobody, so to become a legend you have to race in 8 or 9 different countries which builds up your stats by earning money and levelling up. The more races you compete and win the more money you earn which allows you to customise your cars.

        There are six difficulties which only differ from each other by resulting in you earning more money in the harder levels. As you progress through the game certain races get unlocked and there are 8 major events. These are the X Games (Asia, Europe, America) and the 5 World Tours which cover the world, hence the name.

        These are the other racing modes available:

        Rally Cross - A mixture between track and rally events.

        Domination - In this game mode you have to dominate most parts of the track over a 3 lap period to win.

        Land Rush - You have to race off road in trucks and land buggies.

        Raid - Requires you to race 4x4's through rough terrains and obstacles.

        Gatecrash - You have to hit the gates as you race around the track to add 2 seconds every time you hit a gate so you can stay in the race.

        I think that Dirt 2 is not only the best rally game out there but undoubtfully the best racing game on all platforms. I bought this game not expecting much after the previous game and I can honestly say I am really surprised at the depth and playability of this game.

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        18.11.2009 13:44
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        A great game but not a true classic

        Colin McRae: Dirt 2 is good, albeit it mainstream (a little too dumbed down?) fun.

        As far as visuals go, my really did hit the floor when I saw this in motion. This is one mighty meaty 3D engine that Codemasters have brought to the table here. The vehicles and inverinoments look truly beautiful. This even managed to make Forza 3 look a bit dull for me, to give you an indication of how good the graphics are.

        In terms of gameplay, the depth of this game is akin to a paddling pool ie, not very deep. It seems as though the dveloper may have knocked it into reverse from the last game and just gone all out with crowd pleasing simple-ness. This is a good thing for the mainstream gamer but not for those who were expecting more of the same. On the plus side the game is more accessible but to the hardcore player, things feel undeniably constrained.

        Colin McRae: Dirt 2 is a great game and it will give you a lot of fun but it is missing what is required for classic status.

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        13.10.2009 18:31
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        A light but stunning racing game which is a moving tribute to Collin McRae.

        Colin McRae Dirt 2

        Colin McRae Dirt was a pretty high quality racer back in it's time. It featured fantastic (if prone to slowdown) visuals and was a tight, if lighter, racer in its own right. A year later Codemasters delivered again with the excellent track racer Race Driver: Grid. It improved the visuals and introduced the flashback feature, which seems to be borrowed from most racing games nowadays. So it's hard not to be excited for Collin McRae Dirt 2, the latest racer from Codemasters which is gunning for a podium position by expanding the racing modes, improving online play and more. Does it take the crown or does it not do justice to this great racer's legacy?

        You play as an up and coming racer who has the unfortunate luck of being thrown on the track with racers like Travis Pastrana and Dave Mirra. Thankfully, rather than mercifully thrashing you, they seem intent on guarding you along the way along with other racers as they give you tips on how to succeed in the crazy world of rally racing. The main meat of the game comes from the huge career mode spanning one hundred events which usually have more than one race. Thankfully the menus are neatly laid out like Grid, with bold text clearly highlighting what menu does what. During load times you'll see statistics, though now you can access them instantly through a menu in extras.

        Like I said, you'll be spending most your time with Dirt 2 in its meaty career option. The game has over 100 events which contain usually more than one event. It's bursting with races, and thankfully there are plenty of different event types to go around. As you win career events you'll earn cash to buy cars and also earn respect which can unlock new items like vehicles, liveries and even dashboard toys (not Xbox 360 dashboard sadly) to customize your cockpit view. Respect also unlocks more events, so doing well events quickly ramps up what you can do. There are also quite a few challenges available to earn you some more respect, like driving miles, spinning donuts and more. The structure of Dirt 2's career is great because you start to unlock higher tier events without having to finish all the lower tier ones and you can mostly stick to race events you like because of the game's freedom.

        While sticking to small events is good, there are some bigger events which you may want to prioritise first though. As you get plenty of respect, you'll unlock X Games in Europe, America and Asia which earn huge cash prizes and respect. They are quite hard though so make sure you have good cars and some decent skill before you jump into these events-they won't be going anytime soon. There's also World Tour events unlocked a bit later in the game, where you must win a qualifying event to enter a World Tour event. These are basically a selection of the toughest race course from the eight locations in the game. They too give high respect and money, so again it's worthwhile doing these events. However you're first going to have to earn enough respect to unlock these events by playing the lower tier races first.

        There are about eight different race types in Dirt 2. You have your standard rally racing, coupled with RallyCross which replaces the varied terrain of Rally races with the tight circuit tracks. There's also trailblazer which is kind of like Rally but the tracks are longer and more about high speed than technical racing. There's also competitive racing in the form of Raid which takes place on tracks which go from point to point, and Land Rush which is a crowded truck/buggy racing which has more than a few bumps and knocks to the finish line. Then there are the more unique modes, like Gatecrasher which has you smashing foam signs to give you seconds of time, domination which splits the track into sectors and requires you to get the best time in as many sections as possible, and Last man Standing which elminates drivers who are in last place until the last person in first is left. It's a nice list which balances rally style events with racing.

        The driving model is just as fantastic as Grid and Dirt. The damage modelling is incredible, with the bumps and knocks realistically dealing damage to your vehicle.You'll see paint scrape off only on the area you hit and head on collisions send plenty of metal flying. Speaking of which, the flashback feature from Grid returns in Dirt 2. Like before, you can only rewind and use flashbacks a certain number of times, which gets smaller depending on which difficulty you happen to be playing on. The hardest difficulty completely cuts them off full stop making for a true challenge as one slip up and its game over for you. It's still a nice feature which helps you out of a sticky crash and, if used properly, can even help you overtake another driver at the last corner, yet it's not something you can use to cheat. Cars handle great too, changing depending on your vehicle, and there are also some options to tweak your vehicle before races.

        So where does Dirt 2 falter exactly? Well, despite the sucess of Grid, there's a tedancy Codemasters always seem to follow by. They focus purely on the racing, instead of supplying plenty of modes and features. Grid managed to suceed because its racing was so damn good alone, but it lacked features. And with new racers like Midnight Club LA supplying great racing and a nice supply of modes, it's hard not to be slightly saddened that all you get with Dirt 2 is career, quick race and online. There's no deep vehicle customizing, no race creators and not much more. Don't get me wrong, the racing itself is fantastic, but it doesn't give you enough modes to enjoy the racing in. This is also noticable in the vehicle selection which has about 48 cars altogether spread across the race types. There's very little customization for them either aside from the aformentioned dashboard toys and liveries.

        However there is a pretty sweet online mode which does warrant value. The first Dirt had disappointing online because it was simply rally track racing, by yourself, against 100 players you can't see or communicate with. While Dirt 2 is now 16 players online, it's much improved as the game almost plays exactly like it does on Career. You can access every race type available in career and race every car and track in that mode. There's also the same respect system, just with less rewards because everything is unlocked from the get go. Of course if you aren't into laying the smackdown on the track, or getting smacked down altogether, you can play casually with mates in custom races where you can pick the track and whatever you want really. Games never lag and trying to mess up other drivers by reversing into them or driving the wrong way will get you banned from the race completely.

        Dirt was a fantastic looking racer but suffered from considerable slowdown. Grid had a stunning look plus a smooth frame rate, making it the best looking racer made. That was until Dirt 2. This is incredible with so many delicious lighting effects; intense damage modelling, light relfections and smooth motion blur effects going on at once all at a smooth frame rate. It's just so lush, with awesome desert, jungle and city race tracks making quite a diverse set of race locations. Online hasn't seemed to have suffered from visual downgrade either, and trust me, playing this game in high definition will blow your mind, not that it doesn't look bad in Standard definition either though but Dirt 2 is a stone cold stunner in beautiful high definition. An onlooker saw the game and said to me 'what are you watching on TV?'- Seriously.

        The sound is pretty cool too. It features an indie rock soundtrack which actually kind of fits well with the game. Winning a race, only to have a song singing 'save it for the bedroom' in the background was kind of a cool feeling. Other songs like They Say by Scars on Broadway and Little Sister from Queens of the Stone Age create an exciting atmosphere when you are out of races, though it's a shame there's no music while racing. The taunts and quips from other drivers are cool at first, mainly because you can pick your name most likely (unless it's supercalofragilisticespialobocious) but after playing this game for about 15 hours during career, they start to grate, though it's cool when you are struggling at the back of the pack and other famous drivers start to taunt each other while racing. The effects are great with roaring engines and the subtle sound of the wind whistling by you at high speeds as you drive straight into a brick wall.

        Is Dirt 2 good, bad or ugly?

        Dirt 2 is a great racer, but it suffers from what Codemasters do with most of their racing games. It nails the driving experience-the wind whistling by your car as you go at 160 miles per hour and the fantastic visuals, damage modelling and handling means it's a fantastic racer in terms of gameplay. But it is too thin on features to live up to the highest tier of racers because it's three modes aren't comparable to Midnight Club LA's career, creation tools, customization options and online on top of fantastic racing. It's a bit like a smoothie sundae, it feels good while you're eating it, but once you've finished it you can't help but feel like you want more. Its fantastic racing makes it recommendable to racing fans, but if you're looking for long term racing, Midnight Club LA or Burnout Paradise may be more up your racing track. It is a respectable tribute to a legend however, with a moving clip and race event dedicated to the racing legend Colin McRae at the end of the game.

        Controls: 8
        Gameplay: 9
        Graphics: 10
        Sound: 8
        Value: 7
        Overall: 8.4

        Dirt 2 was released on September 11th, 2009 for Xbox 360, Playstation Portable, Playstation 3, Nintendo DS and Wii. It is rated 12+ for language and can be bought for around £30-40. PC version coming later this year.

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        • More +
          27.09.2009 18:02
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          Buy this is you're proper into rally, but not if you just want a game to mess around on.

          OVERVIEW:
          I didn't like Codemasters' new direction since the move to next-gen consoles. On the Xbox, they made some of the finest racing games available, giving more variety and close racing than anything the competition could offer, even Turn 10 with Forza Motorsport. Earlier than the Xbox, they made the excellent BTCC titles and, of course, the Colin McRae rally series.

          It's been a long time since the first Colin McRae rally game was released a decade ago on the PlayStation in 1998, and since then, the motorsport legend himself has sadly passed away. With DiRT 2, I didn't think or expect that Codemasters would design a fitting tribute to the Scotsman, but I was wrong. DiRT 2 is actually a good game; indeed, in some areas it's the best in its genre and definitely the best game Codemasters have done to date on 360.

          The first thing you'll notice in DiRT 2 is the snazzy presentation. Instead of a standard menu system, Codemasters elected to design the main hub of the game around an RV trailer that you supposedly travel and live in whilst jetting around the world to various off-road events. The main modes within the game are accessible whilst inside the trailer: DiRT Tour, the single player career mode, Multiplayer (online only, there's no split screen) and My Stuff which is where you can keep tabs on everything from achievement progress to unlockables and personal statistics. Whilst this unusual menu system may not be to everyone's taste, it's certainly original and I believe it works quite well both in terms of presentation and practicality.

          GAMEPLAY:
          But where DiRT 2 shines most, thankfully, is during racing. There are several off-road disciplines represented in DiRT 2. Standard point-to-point Rally stages obviously feature, as well as a slight variation of Rally called Trailblazer, which features faster cars and more open stages, and no co-driver. The other disciplines all feature other vehicles on track, vying for position throughout. Raid events feature point-to-point stages, often with multiple routes and jumps added in for dramatic effect. Baja events take place on circuits, again usually with jumps added. Rally cross events take place on stadium-style circuits, which usually feature a lot of surface changes and, yes, more jumps.

          Like the PGR series, DiRT 2 walks the line between realism and arcade style gameplay, but also like the PGR series it appears to have the balance spot on. The game is arcadey enough to be accessible and fun, but realistic enough to be believable. It's something few games get right, and something Codemasters previous games on this generation didn't get right in my opinion. The sense of speed, for example, is something usually done well by arcade racers but not by actual sims. In DiRT 2 it's very much present and helps to contribute to the immersion and excitement the game frequently creates.

          The most immersive and exciting way to play DiRT 2 though is from the in-car view. The in-car view is without doubt the finest I have seen in quite some time, with the windscreen gradually becoming dirtier and dirtier during the course of a race, and sometimes getting cracked or destroyed completely after a crash. The best effect though has to be the water splashing on the windscreen, which happens if you drive through one of the many large puddles in DiRT 2. It will obscure your vision for a while as the windscreen wipers come on, frantically trying to clear you view as you see the water running upwards due to the speed of the air passing over the windscreen. It's annoying when it makes you crash, but nevertheless a really nice effect.

          GRAPHICS:
          The graphics in general are excellent and possibly the best ever seen in a rally game. Everything from the car models to the environments look stunningly real and it's hard to see that Codemasters have cut any corners in regards to graphics. The replays in particular show off the game's visuals superbly. The sound, too, has not been neglected. The cars (well, the rally cars at least; I can't really speak for the other vehicle types) sound similar to their real life counterparts, and hearing the engine scream in protest as you tear down a gravel road at 130 MPH, with the sound of stones flying up and hitting the side of the car continually, is almost as thrilling as the accompanying sense of speed as you watch the environment fly past you, almost in a blur.

          MULTIPLAYER:
          Perhaps the most impressive part of DiRT 2 however is the online play. It is the first game, to my knowledge, to allow both ranked match made games (dubbed as 'Pro Tour' in the game) and unranked custom games ('Jam Session') which you can still search for and join without the need of an invite from the host. There is also a party system, which allows you to party up with up to three friends if you wish to team up in a ranked match, or up to seven if you wish to start your own custom game. It's a near flawless online setup, and the matchmaking is smooth and hasn't yet taken longer than 15 seconds to get me into a game lobby. I've seen an instance of lag only once whilst playing DiRT 2, and I've never been disconnected from a game. Codemasters has always been good at the online side of things in their racers, but this time they appear to outdone both themselves and every other developer of racing games out there.

          REPLAYABILITY:
          So what do you actually unlock by progressing through career mode? Mostly cute little extra like car liveries, horns, and objects to place inside your car such as fluffy dice, a skull, DC kicks and even a Ken Block bobblehead. More importantly, you'll unlock new events, which bring with them new tracks and eventually new locations. The nine locations in the game are London, Los Angeles, Morocco, China, Japan, Malaysia, California, Croatia, and Utah. Each location is unique and some feature mainly events from a certain discipline, like California for example which offers only Baja events, and Croatia which offers only point-to-point stages. Anyway, back to the unlocks; surprisingly, new vehicles must be bought with cash earned from events and only a handful are unlocked by ranking up and competing in certain events, such as the X Games.

          In online matches, all of the vehicles you can buy in career mode are available to the player, but the few you have to unlock are not accessible until you've got them by playing through career mode. The problem I have with the unlock system is that the things you unlock are mainly just cosmetic trinkets; I would have liked to unlock more vehicles and not had to wait until near the end of career mode before getting the chance to do so. Moreover, I would have liked the online ranking system to actually have a point to it. Currently, it is nothing more than a number next to your name which represents how much you've played DiRT 2 online. To me, combining the ranking system online with the one in career mode (given they work in exactly the same way) would have been a smarter move. I dislike the fact that I have to play single player to earn cars to use online. Even without adding more vehicles, Codemasters could have chosen not to have the majority of cars available from the start in the online modes, thus allowing them to be unlocked via ranking up. The cars are certainly balanced enough for this to be possible.

          NEGATIVES:
          So, it all seems pretty much perfect so far, but like all games DiRT 2 does have flaws. Few of them are to do with the actual gameplay or the graphics for that matter. They are to do with the unlocks and rewards system. Now, I love a good ranking system with unlockables, hence why I made it all the way to 10th Prestige in Call of Duty 4. In DiRT 2, the unlockables all come from the Dirt Tour career mode, which in itself is a flaw in my opinion. You progress through the numbered ranks by gaining XP, which you get for racing in events or by completing CoD4-style Challenges, such as driving for a certain number of miles or drifting a certain distance. These challenges will keep popping up throughout your career, as once completed they move on to stage two, then three, four and so on. The online side of the game has separate ranking system, although it works exactly the same. You earn FP (fame points) from completing races and challenges, which also carry over to the online side of the game, though they are separate so any challenges that might be on stage two or three in career will be at 0 in the online modes.

          I'm also disappointed with the lack of classic rally cars in DiRT 2. I understand that the MG Metro is available as a rally cross car, and the Mk II Escort as a rally car, but there are tons more classics which could have been included. The Escort Cosworth, Celica GT-Four, Lancia Delta Integrale, and the king of them all, the Audi Quattro are all sadly missing from DiRT 2. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if the vehicle set for the rally, trailblazer and rally cross events wasn't essentially the same. However, the other events with unique vehicle sets do go some way to making up for the lack of cars, and they are generally fun.

          CONCLUSION:
          The Colin McRae Rally series has come a long way in a decade, and although some hardcore fans won't like the Americanised and slightly Rally-lite DiRT 2, it's a thrilling racing game in its own right. If you find games like Forza 2 where the focus is on precision and realism boring, or if you do like those games but are looking for a change, DiRT 2 is a good game to have in your collection. If you've been waiting for a rally game to have a great online section for a long time, DiRT 2 is a game you must have in your collection. It does online multiplayer better than any rally game before it and arguably better than any racing game full stop. Well done Codemasters, you surprised me.

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