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Colin McRae DiRT PlayStation 3

Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now

Back in June we reviewed the PC and Xbox 360 versions of Colin McRae DiRT. For a while it was thought that the PlayStation 3 version would be released alongside the PC and 360 versions but with the release date in sight, the PlayStation 3 version was delayed for a couple of months. Naturally this upset PlayStation 3 gamers, especially as the console still doesn't have a great deal of quality games, but as it's turned out the delay was worthwhile. Both of the PC and 360 versions had performance issues. The extra few months development has given the developers the time they needed to more or less sort this problem out for the PlayStation 3 and as a result it's the best version of the three.

Colin McRae DiRT offers three single-player modes. Career is where you'll spend most of your time with your game and here you'll compete in a wide range of events as you climb your way up through the numerous tiers as you endeavour to make your way to the top of the career pyramid. Doing well in various events will earn you points (that are necessary to unlock new events and progress to the next tier) and prize money. The prize money can be used to purchase new vehicles (there are over 45 officially licensed cars in the game) and liveries (there are over 180 liveries in the game). The amount of prize money you earn for winning an event will depend on what difficulty level you're playing on. There are five difficulty levels in the game and they range from the easy Rookie level to the challenging Pro level where mechanical damage is very likely, terminal damage is possible and the AI is very challenging to say the least. In addition to the Career mode there are Rally Championship and Rally World modes. Rally Championship allows you to take part in a European, International or Global Championship. European Championships are comprised of events in the UK, Italy and Germany whilst International Championships are comprised of events in Japan, Australia and Spain. Global Championships, as the name implies, are comprised of events from any region. Rally World lets you take part in a one-off race as well as taking part in time trials.

Rather than simply provide a standard rally game experience, DiRT throws plenty of variety your way. There are six different racing disciplines in the game. Rally is the more well known of the bunch and here you'll compete in point-to-point races with the winner being the one with the best overall time. Crossover is a head-to-head race where you and an opponent race around a special circuit. Rallycross is a wheel-to-wheel racing discipline where you'll get to races on circuits that are made up of both on and off-road racing elements. Rally Raid is where you'll drive Rally Raid vehicles, head-to-head, on long off-road circuits in the US. Hill Climb is a point-to-point race where, as the name suggests, you'll drive up a mountain with the winner being the one who records the quickest time. Finally there are the CORR (Championship Off-Road Racing) events which are wheel-to-wheel off-road races involving vehicles such as Super Buggies and Trucks.

For the most part DiRT is very enjoyable although a couple of things could have been better. The cars don't always appear to handle as they should on certain surfaces. On gravel and dirt for instance the cars seem to handle much better than they do on tarmac which is certainly strange. The handling felt a little floaty at times. The brakes also seem to be a little too sharp. Even when driving on fairly hazardous surfaces you seem to stop almost instantly when braking and this just doesn't feel right. With practice you do get used to the rather floaty feel the steering the game has but it's a shame that the handling isn't as good as it was in previous Colin McRae Rally titles.

Those expecting a good multiplayer mode in DiRT will be disappointed with what the game actually offers. There are no wheel-to-wheel races to take part in so you're never going to feel like you're actually racing against someone. The only two events you can play online are Rally or Hill Climb. Essentially it just feels as if you're competing against the AI and doesn't feel like a multiplayer mode in the slightest. In fact it's more of an online time trial mode which is bitterly disappointing especially when the single-player game offers a decent selection of wheel-to-wheel races which would have worked really well online.

The game's presentation is first class with the 3D menu system looking particularly impressive. As you're waiting for an event to load you'll get to see various details of how you've performed so far which is a nice touch. The PlayStation 3 version, like the Xbox 360 and the PC versions of DiRT, looks great and by far it's the best looking game in the Colin McRae series to date. Both the racing environments and the vehicle models look superb. The damage modelling on the vehicles in particular looks very impressive.  DiRT offers two in-car views (called dashboard cam and helmet cam) and they both look excellent. There are six driving views in all bumper, bonnet and chase cam views included. The PlayStation 3 version is practically identical to the 360 version. The main difference being the reduction in the amount of bloom being used but this is a good thing in my opinion. Of course there's also the frame rate to consider and as we mentioned at the beginning of the review, the performance issues have virtually been eradicated in this version. The 360 version in particular suffered frame rate drops when racing in wheel-to-wheel races (where you're competing against other cars). The PlayStation 3 version doesn't appear to have any such problems. Yes, there are times when the frame rate does dip a little but these instances are few and far between and it has no effect on the handling of the cars. 

There is a decent amount of speech in DiRT and, unfortunately, none of it is subtitled. When you're selecting an event to play in the Career mode you can press the Y button to obtain info on the discipline. This information is rather useful but it's verbal only. You're also given verbal only information before and after events which deaf gamers will be completely unaware of. During races none of the co-driver's pace notes are subtitled. You can choose to view directional arrows that have a coloured bar underneath them to show the severity of a bend in the road. The coloured bars are green (which indicates a safe turning), yellow, orange and red (which indicate a bend where extreme caution should be used such as a hairpin). This system works quite well although it still doesn't convey as much information as the co-driver's verbal pace notes.

There are many aspects of Colin McRae DiRT that many gamers will enjoy. The variety in the racing disciplines is certainly refreshing and will definitely widen the games appeal to attract those who may not have been interested in previous Colin McRae rally titles. The graphics are very impressive and include real-world roads and the vehicles all look superb. The poor multiplayer and the slightly floaty handling are both negatives that slightly take away from the experience. That said you do get used to the handling after spending an hour or so with the game. Sadly, due to the tragic events of Saturday 15th September when Colin McRae, his son and two close friends lost their lives, DiRT could well be the last game to bear the Colin McRae moniker. There have been some fabulous Colin McRae games over the years and Colin McRae DiRT is definitely up there with the best of them.

Overall Game Rating 8.4/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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The PlayStation 3 version of Colin McRae DiRT is just as visually appealing as the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game. The fact that most of the performance problems have been ironed out for this version makes it our preferred version. The game could have done with a more substantial multiplayer component however.