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Codemasters have brought the DiRT franchise back for a third round of rally, racing, off-road and not-so-off-road action after moving away from the original rally-centric Colin McRae series.

While the first DiRT was a success, the driving mechanics were deeply flawed to the point that the developers spoke of large amounts of feedback from fans about the cars’ strange grippy handling and lack of sideways-action – and by fixing it – they created a gem in DiRT 2.

What more could they possibly have done for a third game? A lot more, actually. Full review after the jump.

Dusting off the history books

On the off chance that you have no idea what the DiRT games are about, let me give you the quick rundown.

Codemasters ran a franchise of rally games called Colin McRae’s Rally (named off of the now-late rally driver). The franchise started getting a little stale at around about the same time as the young Motorcross hotshot Travis Pastrana became very involved in rally and boosting into events like the X-Games.

The result was that Codemasters chose to make some changes to the Colin McRae franchise (Colin McRae was still alive at this point in history) by not only integrating the new cool-factor that Pastrana was bringing to the sport, but to also broaden the experience and introduce more than just rally events.

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And so… DiRT was born, it was more a celebration of extreme sports and all sorts of off-road racing rather than a game based on a bunch of strange European men blasting through forests on muddy roads all day long.

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While DiRT 2 tried to make you feel like some sort of driver that was traveling the world and rubbing shoulders with some of the best pros out there – what with its first person walk-around menu system – DiRT 3 is a return to form, as well as the incredibly stylish and slick interfaces that Codemasters used to be so famous for back in the Colin McRae days.

Woah dude, you’re like totally the best racer like ever, bro, dude, homeboy. Rad!

The campaign is moved along by the voices of some random people who love to say words like “totally awesome”, “rad” and pretty much anything else that sounds like they are trying too hard to be hip with the kids of today. They try to fit in, but it just sounds lame at the end of the day. Travis Pastrana and Ken Block may have sounded a little out of place in the previous games, but hey, at least they already have some street-cred with fans of the sport.

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Life in the fast lane

The campaign itself is split into seasons that comprise of different events. Each event is then split up into individual automotive disciplines that include everything from rally, trailblazing, rally cross and dirt buggy races to the newly introduced Gymkhana, courtesy of Mr. Ken Block and his crazy YouTube videos that became such a craze.

You earn points by competing in the different disciplines within an event, and the disciplines always vary from event to event, so you always get a nice mix of the different modes. You earn points during the event by placing as high as possible, and as long as you earn enough points, you keep unlocking new events in the season until you finally unlock the final event.

Last Updated: June 6, 2011

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DiRT 3
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9.0

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since ’08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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