Dirt: Showdown is a Demolition Derby type of racing game where anything goes. The rules are simple. There are none. You can pretty much do anything in this game and you will be rewarded for it. In my opinion this is the best thing about this type of racing. You can completely screw up and still be rewarded. For instance: you can be going around the track minding your own business when all of a sudden a car goes across your screen and gets T-Boned by you. This will give you an on screen message telling you how awesome it was. Doing this will earn you more money at the end of each event. The goal is to win (obviously), but winning without causing a little destruction is never satisfying. You don’t want to go around the track at the pace of Driving Miss Daisy do you? Well do you? No. You want to be causing as much destruction as possible before you finally cross the finish line in your nearly wrecked vehicle.
Dirt: Showdown was released between May 25th and June 12th Worldwide, meaning that this title is just over a year old. Just before release, Codemasters hyped up this title by showing it off via IGN and Gamespot (and probably more) saying it was something the fans wanted, something we cherished. That may be true, but they hyped this game up a little to much for my liking. Yes, the fans have missed video games like this, but we wanted more. To me, this game was just something they could throw out to keep us happy before the release of Dirt 4 (actually, where is Dirt 4?). The gameplay was great, don’t get me wrong. It was just the longevity which was the problem for me. You start off racing in the Pro tour working your way up to the Allstar tour, Champion tour and then the final group, which is the Legend tour. Each tier consists off 12 races each with a final race at the end. This sounds like a lot of races but you can easily get through these events within 3 – 4 hours. In the single player you have 10 different events which you have to complete in order to unlock the next tier. These events are: Race-Off – A straight forward race fought out between 8 cars on track. The distance of each of these races can differ from 3 laps to 8 laps I believe. These can be quite entertaining if you don’t just sit at the front of the pack trying to have a clean race. I suggest that you stay in the middle of the pack for a few laps and smash up some cars. That is the objective of this game after all. Domination – A points based mode where the track has been divided into 4 sectors. Winning is based off who sets the fastest times in each sector. You are awarded points depending on your position. The winner is decided on who has the most points rather than who crosses the line first. Elimination – A race which features a timer. When the timer reaches zero, the driver in last place is eliminated. The last car standing wins.
Rampage – Eight cars compete inside an arena in a demolition type mode. Points are given to the driver for inflicting damage on the other opponents. The driver with the most points at the end of the times event wins. Knock Out – Just like Rampage, this even takes place in an arena. The only difference is that you are put on a higher table-like structure. You are awarded bonus points for knocking the other drivers off of the table. Cars are able to get back into the arena via ramps and jumps. Hard Target – The player (you) starts in the middle of an arena and you must fend off attacks from other drivers, with more drivers being added into the mix as the time ticks on. The winner is the driver who survives the longest onslaught. 8-Ball – Now this is my kind of destruction… race, I mean. Racing takes places on circuits with multiple cross overs which can result in chaos. Any time during the race, drivers can collide with one another, meaning the outcome of the race can change.
Trick Rush – This game mode is very similar to the Gymkhana mode in Dirt 3. Players are given a set time to complete as many tricks as possible. Each trick gives the player a score. Head 2 Head – Two drivers must complete an obstacle course as quickly as possible, completing tricks on the obstacle course in front of them. At the end of the first round, the drivers switch lanes for a second attempt. The winner is the driver who has completed the course in the fastest time over the two rounds. Smash Hunter – The player must smash through coloured foam bricks in the order that they are called.
Now the multiplayer also had all those game modes and more. The only problem with the multiplayer was that the lobbies were quite dead. Every time I played online, I would be competing against the same guys over and over again because not a lot of people (compared to Dirt 3) had purchased this video game, sadly. The multiplayer had so much potential. It was brilliant. Even with only a handful of people, it was still a great experience. The races were rather exciting compared to the single player races. People colliding with each other just to get that first place was quite the adrenaline rush. My overall favourite race type has to be the 8-Ball races. You just didn’t know what was going to happen. You could be happily in first place when all of a sudden another driver plows into the side of your car, sending it off down another lane. The unpredictability of these races was brilliant. You didn’t care if you came in first place or eighth. It didn’t matter as long as somebody got side swiped or wrecked. The multiplayer also had party games, which I never played. They were the same party games as Dirt 3 though, so I understand what they played like. You had Smash & Grab – A race where one team grabs the loot whilst the other team try to steal it by ramming into them. The team that holds the loot for the longest period of time wins. Transporter – A capture the flag game mode (yes, CTF with cars) where each driver fights over the flags on the course. The driver to deliver the most flags to his own base will win at the end of the round. Speed Skirmish – A time-based mode in which the drivers need to race through 6 checkpoints before finishing the race.
So all-in-all, Dirt: Showdown is a good game. It just could have been so much more than it was. The nostalgic feeling I had whilst playing this should have been a great feeling, but it wasn’t. That feeling just made me miss the Destruction Derby series even more. I remember how fun those games used to be. Sixteen or more cars on track at once and it was just pure destruction. The Destruction Derby series was perfect in my opinion. You didn’t care about your position, you just cared about wreaking havoc on the track. Dirt: Showdown had the potential to be much more than all of those old games but it just wasn’t up to the job. This title was released on the current generation of consoles, meaning that this title was two generations ahead of it’s predecessors. With all the technology used in today’s video games, Dirt: Showdown could’ve been the new Destruction Derby, but better. I thought we would’ve had 20 cars battling it out on the track, causing so much chaos. This was not to be, sadly. This video game was an arcade game at best. It definitely should not have been £40 ($60) on release. You can pick Dirt: Showdown up for roughly £8 ($12.50) on Amazon. This is completely worth it. If you are looking for a quick, entertaining video game where you can just smash other cars up for fun, this is for you. I would give Dirt: Showdown a solid 6 out of 10 for effort. I’m just sad that this wasn’t what it could have been. Codemasters make brilliant racing games but I think they just rushed this title. Keep those engines running and let’s hope that Dirt 4 is released on the next generation of consoles.