Sunday, September 16, 2012

First to last place

DiRT started out as the superior follow up to the Colin McRea series. It had a relatively tight focus for a racing game. This narrow idea of what it was and what it was trying to do made it better; it wasn't everyone's racing game but it was the best rally racing game ever. As the series went on this focus was lost, spreading out into gymkhana, the X-Games, and all sorts of other things that may or may not be real events. It was still good, but it was diluted. Not all of the content was worth playing. Actually, most of it wasn't, but the hill climbs and rally's were still of such quality that I could stomach everything else to get to the next one.

Along comes DiRT Showdown and the game has gone completely off the rails. It shouldn't even be called 'DiRT,' it should be called 'another failed attempt to recapture the glory that was Destruction Derby 2, oh, and here is some racing just in case you still want that.' I can't think of a single dedicated demo-derby game that lives up to Destruction Derby 2, and that game came out in 1996. I think there were a few more in the series, perhaps even on modern consoles, but they never got it right again. Showdown decides to give it one more try, throwing in several (not fun) permutations to hitting other cars as hard and as often as you can. It's not fun. The crashes have no impact, the car damage is unimpressive, the way the cars handles is poor both in a derby and during races.

What happened?

It's hard to tell. I honestly wonder if Showdown actually started out as a DiRT game. This could be the Doki Doki Panic of racing games, only Doki Doki Panic was good and this is not. What bothers me most are the randomness of the derby levels. I have been leading all the way up to the end and then some computer controlled car scored an impossible number of points from somewhere else on the map. At least when I get rubber banded out of a racing victory I can see the guy who passed me. How can I prevent the CPU from wrecking itself for points?

Such a let down. I will play it for another day or two, splitting the time between it and Tekken, and not feel bad about not seeing everything the have has to offer.

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