The Dirt series has always stuck to an authentic approach, but Codemarsters latest instalment is quite the opposite. With Dirt Showdown, realism goes straight out the window. Instead of the traditional rallying, Dirt Showdown is more about destruction and speed. It's not really the next big Dirt game, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. Dirt Showdown is more of a spin-off from the franchise, offering a more arcady feel instead of realism.
The first difference with Dirt Showdown is it's handling. It's far more easy to control. It's also more forgiving, allowing you to perform donuts and drifts around tight corners more freely. With the handling more easy, the game is still a challenge. AI can be very aggressive, and with the game focusing more on crashes, anything could happen.
New to Dirt Showdown is nitrous. Each vehicle is given a quick speed boost. Simply holding the A button will turn your car into a speeding bullet, allowing you to catch up to your competition, or simply cause major destruction to an opponent. The boost is unlimited, but you have to earn it by either crashing or drifting. The bigger the crash or drift, the more boost you will earn. It's a neat touch and fits in well with the games approach.
The career mode is split up into four tiers, Pro, All-star, Champion, and Legend. There's a variety of different modes available. Some are brought back from Dirt 3, and some are brand new. Modes like Domination have you racing past checkpoints for the fastest time. Elimination is also back, where you must try to take first place, with a vehicle been eliminated after a certain time. These modes are still very enjoyable, but Dirt Showdown really shines with it's new destruction modes. Rampage stands out the most. This is a demolition derby style mode. Here you simply have to crush your opponents by crashing into each other. The more damage you cause, the more points you get. Some tracks also have you on a high up arenas, allowing you to send them flying off. It's great fun to play and makes Dirt Showdown something unique from predecessors.
Joy Ride, which was a sandbox experience from Dirt 3 has also returned. It also returns to familiar ground with the Battersea Compound. If you came here in Dirt 3, there's nothing really new to offer. Missions are very similar. Pull of donuts around a certain object, drift around a corner, etc. But it's still enjoyable again, and there's much more to do this time around. Not only is there more hidden packages around the compound, there's also an all new compound. It will take a while to complete both compounds, and it makes up for the not so meaty career mode.
Dirt Showdown never felt like the next big game, as it's a spin-off. But if you are looking for a less serious and more thrilling experience, Dirt Showdown should be on your wish list this year.
Review by Gareth Smith