If you're acquainted with Dirt 2 - and the chances are you are! - you bravely assume the role of an up-and-coming racing driver who'll be competing on the off road circuit against such mighty pros as Ken Block and Travis Pastrana, maybe for the first time, even, which could be a daunting prospect in itself. However, one of the great things about Codemasters' latest racer is the amount of fun you can enjoy with it and bring to an end the lengthy dirt tour career mode of a champion irrespective of your level of skills. But your opponents aren't pushovers. In fact, they contest a believable fight from start to finish, yet you can forgive the vehicle handling and damage, since the level of difficulty can be altered prior to each event. Also there's a slick flashback feature which provides the option to replay instantly sections of a race if you make a dirty mess of it!
Although Dirt 2 isn't as realistic in comparison to some of the other excellent off-road racers which have preceded it, it remains just as accessible and exciting as any of them.
And whether you're driving a rally car, a trophy truck, or a buggy, Dirt 2's controls are responsive and maintain the job of keeping your wheels where you need them as you navigate tight corners, big jumps, or expanses of shallow water, not forgetting the transitions between loose surfaces and tarmac. Of course each vehicle in your ever-expansive garage handles in a different fashion, except pleased to say it's not jarring, even when you're climbing out of one vehicle and jumping into another. And all the vehicles look spectacular (both internally and externally!), not forgetting they can be customised with various unlockable liveries plus interior decorations, get covered in dust and mud while you drive them, and, if you lose control even for a split second, they can be both damaged and deformed beyond recognition! It's your choice if you decide to play with purely cosmetic damage that will impact on the car's performance, although it's worth mentioning that if or when you opt for the latter, adverse effects are all but minimised. It goes without saying that a wobbly wheel or a damaged engine will slow you down - that much is probably inevitable - but you'll never ever be limping around the track or fighting to keep in motion in anything resembling a straight line. Of course it's possible to "total" your car if you crash into anything at high speed, but remember this doesn't necessarily mark the end of your race provided you haven't used all your flashbacks!
And bear in mind too that the frame rate rarely falters either on or offline, however superb the cars, or however various the environments through which they travel. And you'll note the sense of speed is great, whether you're racing through a jungle deep in Malaysia, across the Utah desert, through the dizzying streets of London, or inside a Los Angeles stadium. There's superb attention to detail in all of these locations which borders on the excessive since there's sparse time to take in the scenery, yet it makes watching all the action replays all the more satisfying, and far more greatly fulfilling - even if there is really no option to save them!
And what about the audio design? you might be asking. Well, it's also worthy of praise! Whilst much of the time maybe spent listening to the awesome revving of the engine, plus the energetic soundtrack which plays when not racing, there are also ambient noises to hear, at each and every location, and not forgetting the mighty cheer of spectators as you pass them. However, the most impressive audio of them all comes courtesy of your co-driver who does an excellent job of keeping you well and truly informed regarding turns and hazards you might be approaching, anytime you're participating in a rally stage. He or she - you also get to choose! - does exceedingly well so you hardly ever feel the need to glance up at the mini-map, unlike other events held at the same locations. Not only that but you're co-driver will react believably, if not credibly, to your amazing driving skills, so if, for instance, you slam sideways into a wall, you might well hear a scream, whilst, after brushing against a tree, you might be reassured that your car only suffered a scratch.
At the same time, however, it's not details like these which make Dirt 2 such a superb racing game. What makes Dirt 2 so special, in fact, is its multiple difficulty levels and forgiving game-play mechanics which renders it accessible to newcomers, whilst offering a great challenge for veterans of Codemasters' Colin McRae rally series, and other off-road racers.
Apart from this there's also the single player mode which spans no fewer than 100 events - that often comprise multiple races - a suite of multiplayer options including plenty of different modes and leaderboards, and notwithstanding your sweet RV that just fills with souvenirs from every racing location as your career progresses and goes from strength to strength!
If you even have just a passing interest in off-road racing you won't regret a second spent behind the wheel of Dirt 2.
And with OpenWheeler you have the most desirable driving simulator on the market. And it's not only desirable but reasonably priced too, particularly if you bear in mind the hard or difficult times people might be experiencing from time to time.
Playing your favourite car racing games like Colin McRae Dirt, Formula One, Need for Speed, and many others besides, will bring a joy you never even expected, whilst using a racing car simulator seat like OpenWheeler will take you to the next level of unmatched driving realism.
It will enhance and multiply your enjoyment as you experience the “real thing”, keeping up to speed, of course, and bringing total professionalism to your life and racing career!
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