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OS Scores Explained DiRT 3 Overview (Xbox 360)
Pros
Beautiful graphics, responsive controls, great depth.
Cons
Uninspired voice work, forced genre racing, lack of season options.
Bottom Line
Not only a great off-road racer, but a great racing game in general.
8.5
out of 10
DiRT 3 REVIEW

DiRT 3 Review (Xbox 360)

Read about how we complete our reviews. You can check out the review process here, and then you can scope out the scoring guidelines and scoring rubric.

The latest title in Codemasters' Colin McRae Rally series is out in the form of Dirt 3. If you have ever felt the desire to race in the L.A. Coliseum, the Rocky Mountains or the deepest part’s of Kenya, but found you didn’t have the money, time or courage to do so -- no worries. Codemasters is going to give you an opportunity to do so in a much cheaper, safer environment. And the developers will give you that opportunity all while delivering an incredibly realistic and fun experience.

Gameplay

When your tires rip through the gravel for the first time in Dirt 3, you will instantly feel the excitement and realism. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the series or a first timer, you will find the experience both thrilling and engaging. Codemasters has decided to go back to the roots of the series and focus on rally racing, as opposed to the X Games theme of its predecessor, Dirt 2. The racing is fun, authentic and incredibly varied.

Dirt 3 allows the user to take control of multiple styles of off-road vehicles on many different types of tracks. You will find yourself racing through the gritty back hill’s of a foreign country to the snowy mountain tops of the Rockies to a wharehouse facility in Michigan.

Each venue and vehicle allows for a different style of racing, and the physics and mechanics of each will change drastically, which forces the user to govern their aggressiveness and change up their approach. Dirt 3’s depth of gameplay, realistic physics and multiple off-road offerings will give the user a chance to try many different styles and see what they like best.

The game will throw true point-to-point racing at you, followed up by Rally-cross events (part dirt, part road) and hit you from the blind-side with its drift-style Gymkhana. In the Gymkhana events, the game forces you to use all of your skill and different driving techniques to master drifts, spins, jumps, and most of all, vehicle control in a controlled environment.

The game also offers up the ability to change the difficulty before each race, as well as the chance to “rewind” a mistake that caused your vehicle to look like it just came out of a car crusher. This feature is a great tool because it allows you to really find out how aggressive you can be on a certain jump, blind corner or S-curve, and still know that there is not any mistake you can make that can’t be undone. This year’s title also offers up the inclusion of weather elements. Try driving in a rainstorm or blinding winter storm, and you will get a true appreciation for what Codemasters has done with this aspect of the game.

Presentation

While Dirt 3 does so many things right, the presentation can be a bit underwhelming at times. Whether you are in Dirt Tour mode, race now or online, the game provides repetitive views of the outside of your vehicle and limited views of the track. However, the video explanations detailing some of the different racing disciplines with people like Ken Block explaining how Gymkhana works are a nice touch. For someone who has never played the Dirt series, or has no idea what certain styles of racing are, these tutorials can be very helpful.

The sound design is also a strength for the game. Dirt 3 could possibly be the best sounding racer to ever hit a console. Not only do the engines sound incredible, but the atmosphere is just as alive and will suck you in for sure.

I am not a fan of the way the developers approached the liveries and car unlocks this year. In Dirt 2, you got the feeling of accomplishment when you unlocked a vehicle, and it felt like it was yours. Dirt 3 does it in a way that feels like you are just choosing a vehicle from a random list, as opposed to walking into your garage and deciding which of your vehicles you want to drive today. You feel very disconnected from the whole unlocking experience.

The game also gives you the option to upload small clips of your race directly to YouTube. My only complaint with this really cool feature is the allotted time frame that you have to upload. The game allows you to upload 30-second clips at a time, which is nice, but a minute would have allowed gamers to show off tricks and jumps in a little more depth.

Online

While the Dirt 3 single-player experience is really deep, the online experience and multiplayer elements only add to that depth. You can race in one of three multiplayer modes:

Pro Tour is the first of these modes. It allows a driver to jump in and race in ranked matches. These events stick with the rules of the discipline, and they can be very challenging and fun.

Jam Session is about grabbing a bunch of people and having fun online. This mode allows a person to set the rules they want, grab some friends and race how they want to race.

Codemasters has also included a split-screen option this year, which allows two people to jump on the same console and race at the same time. This mode also includes AI cars, which was a great move by Codemasters.

In general, racing online was a very smooth experience with no lag. There are plenty of good times to be had in this area.

Career

Dirt Tour mode is the career mode for Dirt 3, and it’s a very deep and fun experience. It has the driver race through four seasons, and as you progress, so does the race length and difficulty. Tour mode is a blast to play through, and the only real complaint is that it forces you to race certain disciplines that certain players may not enjoy. It would have been nice if Codemasters would have included different types of season options that allowed gamers to only race rally point-to-point -- assuming that’s what they wanted to do.

As you move from race to race, your objective is to finish in the top three and reach the podium. Each season consists of four different forms of racing. Each style has four races and a championship at the end. If you win the championship in all four, you open up the next season. While the mode is very deep, the in-season presentation is very drab and not very immersive. You have a management team that will guide you through it, and even congratulate you on a job well done. However, the voice-over work here is poorly done, repetitive and adds nothing tangible to the experience.

Nevertheless, the career mode is a great time, and it will make you come back to the game more often.

Final Thoughts

Dirt 3 does not apologize for being “just” an off-road racer, it actually embraces it. It give's gamers a chance to really explore all types of off-road experiences, and it does so with style and substance. You will be hard pressed to find a racing game that does a better job of providing realism, fun and depth all in one package. In a genre that does not see a lot of competition, Codemasters raises the bar to new heights. This is one off-road game that does not get stuck in the mud.


Control Scheme: It handles beautifully with a controller or wheel.

Audio: The sounds are amazing, and the audio will pull you in.

Online: This element is very deep, and the options are plentiful. It is essentially lag-free and runs very smooth.

Learning Curve: Easy to drive, hard to master.

Score: 8.5 (Great)


DiRT 3 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Lop_Huckawuckie @ 06/02/11 06:29 PM
Does it have in-cockpit views, where you can see the steering wheel, dashboard, etc?
 
# 2 bluengold34_OS @ 06/02/11 08:03 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lop_Huckawuckie
Does it have in-cockpit views, where you can see the steering wheel, dashboard, etc?
Yes it does, and they did a great job on it.
 
# 3 LingeringRegime @ 06/02/11 08:32 PM
Had no idea this was out. Will buy very soon. After the Game 2.
 
# 4 RunN1st @ 06/02/11 09:25 PM
I have it for the PC right now and my son plays it all the darn time. I'm probably going to pick up the 360 version for him eventually. The split-screen option is very cool since not many racers do it on PC.

Thanks for the review, Bob! Nice short and to the point.
 
# 5 Dazraz @ 06/03/11 02:00 AM
How many cars/tracks are available straight out of the box in Race Now mode? Thinking about picking up the game but don't really want to plough through the career mode to unlock everything.
 
# 6 LiberNull @ 06/03/11 02:42 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazraz
How many cars/tracks are available straight out of the box in Race Now mode? Thinking about picking up the game but don't really want to plough through the career mode to unlock everything.
You can play most tracks out of the box... at least the rally tracks (in single play mode). And about the cars most of the cars you unlock are the same as some of the cars you have access to out of the box (just with different liveries).
 
# 7 Dazraz @ 06/03/11 07:39 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiberNull
You can play most tracks out of the box... at least the rally tracks (in single play mode). And about the cars most of the cars you unlock are the same as some of the cars you have access to out of the box (just with different liveries).
Thanks, LiberNull. I will pick the game up later today.
 
# 8 Hjkflannel @ 06/03/11 04:25 PM
Already traded this game, The rally stages are so open you hardly need to break and gymkhana events are so fiddily. The worst thing of all tho is the fact there are only 4 rally locations and the stages are so short you will get bored fast. The career mode is so uninspired and if the announcer keeps asking you to upload to YouTube after every race.
 
# 9 VDusen04 @ 06/03/11 11:45 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hjkflannel
Already traded this game, The rally stages are so open you hardly need to break and gymkhana events are so fiddily. The worst thing of all tho is the fact there are only 4 rally locations and the stages are so short you will get bored fast. The career mode is so uninspired and if the announcer keeps asking you to upload to YouTube after every race.
I respect those viewpoints and it's certainly not outlandish for users to come to such conclusions. However, I thought it'd at least be worthwhile to state that I have felt the opposite in regards to the rally locations. I came in with the understanding that the locations would be limited (as they were in Dirt 2) but I feel the rain, snow, morning, day, and night driving helps turn what may seem to be a limited group of locations into something that feels much more varied and new. In Michigan, for instance, it feels to me as if there are at least 10 different variations of tracks (actual track variations - meaning different paths, roads, etc) on top of the weather alterations. This is contrast to Dirt 2, where the rally courses felt much more limited to me.

Gymkhana is the biggest surprise to me. Like a lot of you guys, I was banking, praying and planning on a bunch of rally. That's what I was looking for and that's what I was interested in. So with that, even with a pessimistic eye, I was surprised with how much I really did not mind the Gymkhana mode. There's no doubt the mode felt super loose in comparison to actual rally races (my car felt like it was spinning all over the place) but somehow, through a medium amount of practice, the Gymkhana cars begin to feel comfortable and one's skills can quickly become very capable. So as I said, I wanted nothing to do with Gymkhana at the start, but it's been a pleasant surprise. The cars seem to handle better with experience.

Finally, I feel you on the YouTube voice. I've been quite tolerant of it thus far; I just don't see the point of it existing in the first place (aside from shilling YouTube, which may be reason enough).

Into the fourth season, I continue to have a lot of fun with this game. It's great to me.
 
# 10 Dazraz @ 06/04/11 03:04 AM
It's a shame that with a game that looks as amazing as Dirt 3 does fails to include the ability to watch a replay at the end of each event. So much of the wonderful visuals go past in a flash that you don't really get the chance to appreciate just how good everything looks.
 
# 11 VDusen04 @ 06/04/11 08:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazraz
It's a shame that with a game that looks as amazing as Dirt 3 does fails to include the ability to watch a replay at the end of each event. So much of the wonderful visuals go past in a flash that you don't really get the chance to appreciate just how good everything looks.
On the 360 version, there is a replay option after each race, where you can rewatch your entire run from multiple camera angles with the option of capturing highlights on YouTube. Though, I feel as if you are referring to something different?
 
# 12 LionsFanNJ @ 06/04/11 11:15 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazraz
It's a shame that with a game that looks as amazing as Dirt 3 does fails to include the ability to watch a replay at the end of each event. So much of the wonderful visuals go past in a flash that you don't really get the chance to appreciate just how good everything looks.
um. you can immediately watch your previous race replay from multiple camera angles.
 
# 13 The Amaizen Blue @ 06/04/11 03:50 PM
I'll stick with Gran Turismo 5
 
# 14 Dazraz @ 06/05/11 04:20 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by LionsFanNJ
um. you can immediately watch your previous race replay from multiple camera angles.
Sorry, I stand corrected. I had been playing the game on a 4GB 360 whereby due to memory limitations there is no replay option at the end of the race. I will try it on my 60GB console to check the replays out. Thanks
 

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