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Colin McRae Dirt 2 improves on last year's game in all areas. Although it's not the thorough bred rallying game I imagine Colin would be drawn to, it does him proud by keeping his name at the top of the video game rallying scene.
The late, great Colin McRae lends his name to another game in the popular series from Codemasters. I'm sure if he were here we may well have got some proper rallying in the style Colin is best known for.
Well actually I think that is the point right there. This is Colin McRae as he was known in America. It seems this is somewhat different to the Colin McRae we all knew and loved here in the UK, flying through the forests of Wales on two wheels in the Group A and then WRC rallies.
This is all too much for me to handle, as a long time Colin McRae fan, so for the sake of the game I will rename it 'Ken Block and his mates (one of whom was Colin McRae) Dirt 2' . Now that's better.
True to form of the latest generation of driving games, you are fired into the action with ease and bombarded with stunning graphics, excellent sounds and of course those clever and attractive menus. It all looks very promising - this may well be quite good.
It's immediately clear, the feel of the car is a massive move forward for this series.
Armed with my G25 wheel and seat combo I floor the throttle to start a rally cross style - half gravel half tarmac - two lap sprint. It's immediately clear, the feel of the car is a massive move forward for this series. The previous incarnation was hard to drive with the wheel, in fact I was regularly quicker using the standard controller and believe me there is nothing worse than having a few hundred quids worth of wheel setup sat in your front room taking up far too much space and finding you can go quicker without it!
Dirt 2 really brings the game into your living room and involves you as a driver. As usual, I adopt my favourite, and in my opinion the only way to play, driver's seat viewpoint. This simply is the best way to access as much game reality as is available, and it really works here. Graphics are smooth and action is handled well, even on my very large projector everything holds together to provide a believable driving experience.
This is what I expected the original Dirt to be like. But somehow the previous game had never quite hit the mark. But this was not the case here at all as I battle for first position, not allowing the car to drift too much and dabbing the brakes to tuck the nose in at the apex of the final bend. Back on the throttle and carrying more speed I pass Ken what's-his-name in the nick of time!
This was great for the kids who would dip in and out of the game and that didn't seem to matter to the overall playability.
Progression is fairly standard. You win races, you get more stuff, you get more tracks, the usual. Although this is nothing new and I guess this is how we like our alternate realities to be. Everything seemed to flow well and progression, though challenging, was not too difficult. What was appealing was the ability to be first or last and still you could progress, albeit more slowly. This was great for the kids who would dip in and out of the game and that didn't seem to matter to the overall playability even though each of them play at very different levels.
The menu system is a bit like Marmite. You will either love the flowing graphical style and enjoy the way the music ambience changes depending on where you are or you will hate it and want your old menus back. Personally I loved it though sometimes it felt a little slow.
After a couple of laps of the Monza circuit the game started to make a lot more sense. This was a proper racer's racing game.
Online is a blast with quick races and tournaments to play. The whole experience was particularly addictive and proves yet again how much online play has become a proper part of modern gaming.
Dirt 2 is a very accomplished driving game. It is fun to drive with good feedback and challenging courses to work through. I am really enjoying completing the levels and I certainly haven't tired of it as quickly as I did with the first Dirt.
I still find myself slightly disappointed that this is not the rallying epic it could have been, and somehow the game doesn't really do justice to the legacy of the Colin McRae as I remember him. It would seem we will have to continue waiting for a return of the proper rally Sim. In the meantime Colin McRae Dirt 2 will be more than sufficient and is certainly worth your hard earned cash.
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