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Codemasters Dirt 3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £27
inc VAT

Variety, but not at the expense of consistently high quality. Dirt 3 is a driving game that goes all-out to entertain - and it succeeds


In addition to Gymkhana, all the events from the previous edition make a comeback. It’s a smorgasbord of racing delights, many set coincidentally in Scandinavia. Rallying is still a big part of the menu, with classic point-to-point races against the clock; while Trailblazer is a very similar event on less sinuous courses and with far more powerful cars – its our personal favourite (see video below). Rallycross lets you race against multiple opponents over multiple laps on short tracks, while Landrush is a similar deal with big trucks and dune buggies – it’s our least favourite with a very knockabout feel.

We cackled with glee while taking this 800bhp monster down this hill

As YouTube has played a big part in Block’s popularity, it makes perfect sense to integrate it with Dirt 3. Simply put in your YouTube login details when you first load up the game, and then you can upload your most impressive feats for others to watch. Frustratingly you are limited to 30 second clips, so no full runs are possible for bragging rights, and you can’t upload in HD. Still it’s a nice extra and the sort of social media tie-up that we can expect all top-end titles to exploit in future.

The front-end is as slick as usual, in fact it would be impossible to imagine how far we’ve come from the text-on-a-screen menus of old. Striking graphic design and lots of flashy 3D effects are only marred by the cloying enthusiasm of your American career advisors.

This pair of yapping idiots keep up a constant chatter, mainly kissing your behind when you’re great and mollycoddling your occasional failures. If they are representative of the kind of sycophants that talented drivers have to advise them, it’s no wonder such stars have problem egos. Thankfully, it’s all peace and quiet once you get behind the wheel – bar the restrained warnings of your co-pilot in rally events.

Dirt 3 menu
Beautifully presented, with cars drifting through the menus

This brings us nicely to Codemasters’ EGO graphics engine. It’s hard to see where improvements could have been made from the old version, one of the first we saw to use DirectX 11; it’s a great example of providing spangly graphics on both consoles and fairly low-end PCs. Dirt 3 continues the trend, so much so that we’ve taken it up as one of our graphics benchmarks. The tracks are detailed and atmospheric, the car models look good to enough to climb into and damage is fully modelled. Snow and rain effects have been added in this version to give greater immersion, though we couldn’t tell how, or if at all, they affect the handling model.

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