Dirt Showdown: Back to basics would drive better

Has there been a worse song or song title than I Wanna Sex You Up?

Dirt Showdown

From: Codemasters

For: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Two and a half stars (out of five)


Supplementary question: is there anything more frustrating than a quality game deciding it needs to "sex up" its sequels?

I loved the first Dirt game, the rebranded addition to the Colin McRae Rally series.

It was a smooth, deep rallying simulation that featured an absorbing career mode, a phenomenal range of events, vehicles and surfaces, and basically the perfect mix of fantasy and reality.

It was "sexed up" enough. Then Dirt 2 and Dirt 3 played with the format a bit, though still retaining a core of realism that made more traditional driving gamers happy.

Well, all Dirt Showdown has retained is the prefix. The game bears almost no resemblance to the original titles named for the late great Scottish rally ace.

Showdown is big, loud, brash, in-your-face, arcade-style motor racing, and it does not pretend to be anything else.

It's all head-banging music and garish colours and jazzed-up driving modes and hectic action.

Rallying for the attention-deficit generation, if you like.

It does have its good points, obviously.

The game structure is simple, encouraging you to compete and unlock new events and better vehicles.

Some of the plainer racing modes are moderately enjoyable, and the demolition derby-type events are surprisingly good fun.

But the game feels quite linear, and too often sinks into style over substance. The "hoonigan" events, where you must complete a variety of skids, smashes and jumps, is an example of that.

Showdown is fun, in patches, but I'm not sure I see it having a long shelf life.

I'd prefer more old school, less sexed up.



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