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Colin McRae: Dirt 2

Colin McRae: Dirt 2

Race Driver: Grid is one of our favourite racing games. Sweaty and action filled, and every race ends up as a giant rush of adrenaline. That's why we fought hard when trying to decide who would end up reviewing Dirt 2.

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Dirt 2 feels like the secret lovechild of Race Driver: Grid and Colin McRae: Dirt. It mixes the best elements of both games: the rally-feel of Dirt with the brutal physics-based racing in Grid, and the result is excellent.

As usual you start as a young and inexperienced driver out to win races to claim fame and money. Money spent expanding his car pool and gaining access to more races and competitions.

It's well worth mentioning the start of the game, because Codemasters has really made and effort in making you feel like a real race driver. You start backstage in a racing arena, surrounded by crew, racing fans and competitors. From here you can enter your trailer to select races, edit options, play multiplayer, etc. It's atmospheric and well-produced, and reminds me more of a snowboard game than the usual clean and shiny racing menus that accompany games in this genre. The menus immerse me in the game in a way normal menus wouldn't. For the first few hours it's a thrill to return to your trailer between the races to watch TV, study the fans walking by, and selecting a new race.

The first few hours, mind you. This interactive menu is graphically very demanding, and takes ages to load. And you will grow tired of waiting. Believe me. After four hours with Dirt 2 the statistics proclaim I've spent a mere 37 hours behind the wheel. Sure, I've been dabbling with decorating my cars or watching TV in the trailer, but I've mainly been trying to race. And loading the menu every time I finish a race, just to be allowed to choose a new race and then waiting for that race to load gets to be very irritating after a while.

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Which is a shame, because the racing in Dirt 2 is great. Codemasters again prove that they are masters of mixing arcade and simulation in a racing game. The cars feel heavy, the turns require accuracy, but the game isn't as merciless as the more simulator-like competitors on the market. It's about active drifting and brutal battling with your competition. It's about taking risks. When the speedometer is peaking and your car races past trees and dunes while wobbling unsteadily at every bump in the road, you feel on the verge of loosing control. This feeling of pushing yourself to your limits, and beyond, is what makes racing in Dirt 2 so lovely.

Graphically it's beautiful. Smoke and particle effects, combined with lovely background graphics makes this one of the prettiest racers I have seen. You can literally feel the heat from the desert sand, or the moist Indonesian jungle air from the crisp graphics. Dirt 2 is beautiful all the time: in the menus, the loading screens, and when racing. The sound is equally great, except the rather mundane soundtrack with rock music.

Despite having several different race types, I miss some more variation both in the car park, but also between the different races. The different cars feel very similar in races.

Codemasters wants to taking the racing culture seriously, something they accomplish very well in the atmospheric menus. They also get a little bit of help from international racing stars like Ken Block. Other racers talk to you and send you messages, and eventually end up as your buddies. The whole package makes me feel like a part of the rally circuit. The X-Games Rally circuit, that is, not WRC.

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Dirt 2 is another demonstration of Codemasters' almost perfect understanding of what makes a racing game fun. And I'm dangerously close to rewarding it 9/10. But as I built up my career and progressed through the game I found the long loading times and the atmospheric menus got more and more annoying, and actually made the game less fun to play in the end. It really is a hassle to be forced to wait ages to be allowed to choose a new race.

But it's an irritation I forget as soon as I sit behind the wheel again and cruise through Japanese streets or over Slovenian mountains. Then it's about me, my car and the road and a powerful engine hurtling me through a lovely rendered landscape at breakneck speed.

Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
Colin McRae: Dirt 2
08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Gorgeous graphics, tight control, exciting races.
-
Slow and extremely time consuming menus, could do with more variation.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Colin McRae: Dirt 2Score

Colin McRae: Dirt 2

REVIEW. Written by Marve Fleksnes

Colin McRae might be dead, but his games live on. Dirt 2 embraces the X-Games Rally-culture, and we like it a lot.



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