Dirt 3 is an upcoming rallying videogame in the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters.It contains a new racing mode, gymkhana, which is featured in the teaser trailer. “Colin McRae” has been removed from the title of the game.The game will feature split screen and a cockpit camera view. It is scheduled to be released globally on 24 May 2011 for Microsoft Windows.
“This is the biggest racing game that the racing studio has ever embarked upon,” asserts producer Matt Horsman, and given this is the same team that conjured up ludicrously generous games such as TOCA: Race Driver 3, that’s quite some claim. Like that game the scope of DiRT 3 is vast, the roster of cars taking in everything from the Mini Cooper S that was made famous by Pat Moss and Paddy Hopkirk in the ’60s through to Kris Meeke’s Peugeot 207 S2000.
There’s much more in between the two, and DiRT 3′s vehicle list makes for heavenly reading for petrolheads. The ’70s lends cars such as the Lancia Stratos, the famously fierce Group B cars of the mid-80s are represented by Quattro S1, RS2000 and Peugeot 205 among others, while the ’90s gives us the Celica that Carlos Sainz worked his magic in, the sublime Lancia Delta Integrale, and of course Colin McRae’s iconic 555 Subaru. It’s no less than a celebration of the history of the sport.
And fittingly it feels like a return to the ideals of the series’ forebears – the Colin McRae games – with the addition of Finland, Norway and Monte Carlo as well as the introduction of the all-important WRC licence lending DiRT 3 a more traditional air. It helps that Ken Block, the American star that’s taken McRae’s position as series’ figurehead, has made the shift to the premier rally series, and as Codemasters returns to its roots its game feels remarkably more mature.
Gone is the elaborate, extreme sports flavoured front-end of DiRT 2, and in its place is an equally slick yet more minimal menu set, told in stark monochrome with occasional flashes of colour. Beyond it lies a game that’s markedly more attractive than its predecessor, no mean feat when that game’s sporting some remarkable good looks in the first place. A new lighting model ensures the cars now feel more a part of their environments, while the car models – despite the colossal number of them – are supremely detailed.
Those environments themselves promise to be just as spectacular. The aforementioned additions mean, of course, snow, but that’s not the only weather effect being introduced to DiRT 3. Rain’s a concern too, as are differing light conditions as some stages take place under the cover of night. Threading the 470 horses that sit under the bonnet of an Audi Quattro S through a pitch black, snow blanketed forest as the headlights bounce beams through the forest promises to be a unique thrill.
All this isn’t to say that the American contingent have been ignored, and it’s in some of the other arenas that the DiRT formula is reprised – albeit in a smartly refined form. The X Games licence is retained, and this time out the extreme end of driving is explored much more effectively. First up there’s Gymkhana, an event within tightly confined spaces wherein deft flicks and drifting are the order of the day. It’s a spectacular discipline that should be well served by DiRT’s trademark deft handling.
Easily the best manifestation of the fast and loose approach to motorsport is in the Compound, an all-new arena set in a more expansive recreation of DiRT 2′s Battersea Power Station. It’s an open-ended, free play area available both online and off. Featuring corkscrews and side missions, it’s like an automotive skate park that can play host to various mini-games, and as a multiplayer addition it promises a refreshing alternative to point to point racing – especially with the introduction, for the first time in the series, of splitscreen.
And all this is built around a chassis that’s already proved itself admirably twice before; as you’d expect from a Codemasters racing title, the handling is impeccably balanced between excess and subtlety that conveys perfectly the feeling of a car teetering on a knife edge, something that’s apparent in a brief stint behind the wheel of some very early code. It doesn’t give away much but already there’s a sense of refinement, with the best aspects of DiRT 2′s handling being retained.
Also returning are the crashes that have, thanks to Codemasters‘ unsurpassed damage model, become DiRT’s trademark, and they’ve been given a little added functionality. Have a spectacular prang and it’s now possible through the rewind feature to publish the video with the press of a button. It’s part of a bigger push to integrate DiRT 3 with social networks such as Facebook, which also includes the ability – much like Bizarre Creation’s Blur – to easily share stats and figures.