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No, I don’t mean a mechanic that can drive

As good as a game may look though, a driving game of any sort really is nothing without a fun driving mechanic in place and it pleases me to no end that DiRT 3 is right on the money with its car handling and overall feel behind the wheel. While not much has changed over DiRT 2, the cars all really do feel like a ton of fun to drive, and this is also down to your individual choices.

Options have been put in place that make the difficulty range from cars that brake by themselves, show you driving lines and have ABS, traction control and more… to… advanced modes that allow real enthusiasts to rely on nothing but their sharp skills behind the wheel to keep them out of the walls and trees.

No Codemasters racer is complete with the Flashback ability anymore, and with DiRT 3 you are given five to use during a race and rather than limit them according to difficulty, you are rewarded with extra points for not using them. This is however, an off-road game, and the tiniest little bump can always cause ten levels of hell for you instantaneously, so the Flashback system is still a welcome feature, not to mention it allows you to appreciate your magnificent accidents without feeling sour.

Even people who aren’t generally fans of racing games will not be able to deny that DiRT 3 offers a driving experience that is just too much fun to put down for almost anyone, and major kudos have to be given to Codemasters for listening to their fans and fixing all of the previous problems.

Putting everything on the line, online

Speaking of a fun driving experience, DiRT 3 also includes some great new multiplayer features that give it some real edge over its predecessor. Firstly, you can actually play DiRT 3 in split-screen mode with a buddy, and for a game that’s easy to pick up and enjoy, that’s a real bonus for when your buddies are over.

The online play is still in place and worked as solid as can be for our sessions. While staggered-start rallying or rally cross is fun and all, the real fun is to be had with the new Gymkhana modes. While there is an assortment of points runs and modes that have you smashing as many robot-shaped cut-outs as possible, there is very little that comes as close to the fun of playing capture the flag, in a gymkhana lot… in rally cars.

Overall, the online modes are actually more than just some events with online connectivity. The rallies and other events are still a lot of fun in their own right, but the introduction of the Ghymkana adds a new level of gameplay that can be enjoyed by anyone and not just people who like racing.

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Conclusion:

DiRT 3 is what you would call a fantastic all-rounder that will prove itself to be a fun experience for just about anyone. The single player campaign is fun and as challenging as you want, the cars are tons of fun to drive and the online modes are the cherry on top.

If you are looking for something car-related to have fun with, you really can’t go wrong with DiRT 3 and off-road/rally fans can take this as a no-brainer.

Scoring:

Gameplay: 9.0

It may not be perfectly realistic with all settings off, but its close enough for hardcore fans to have a blast and with the assistance settings, a 6 year old can enjoy it. It’s fast, fun and frantic.

Design and Presentation: 9.0

Fantastic graphics, gorgeous sound, menu designs and a campaign that progresses at a great pace. The only thing wrong in this department is a soundtrack that’s just all over the place. One moment it sounds like 90’s pop, the next moment its hard metal, it just makes no sense.

Value: 8.5

The campaign will keep you nice and busy, especially if you want to get 1st place in all events. The separate Gymkhana mission mode is enough to drain hours out of your life and the great multiplayer (including split-screen) adds great value and bang for your buck.

Overall: 9.0 [Not an average]

It’s an absolute blast for anyone looking for this sort of game and the best in the series by far thanks to its new additions and streamlining of other less-popular events.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360 – also available for Playstation 3 and PC]

Last Updated: June 6, 2011

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DiRT 3
9.0

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