PC Review: Colin McRae DiRT 2

Colin McRae may be gone, but his games still kick arse…

After the tragic death of Colin McRae, I expected the end of any racing games with his name attributed to them. Instead, it seems I was wrong and Codemasters decided to keep the name to honour the man by making a direct sequel to the best game in the series, DiRT. But does the game do justice to the racing legend?
DiRT 2 came out for consoles a few months ago, but alas I never got around to picking up a copy…so the G4WL version is my first time with the game. I must say from the start that DiRT 2 is simply beautiful on the PC as it uses DX11, runs incredibly smoothly and luckily offers support for both Xbox 360 wired controllers and the traditional PC keyboard/mouse layout. I personally prefer the controller for racing games, but each to their own…

DiRT 2 is made up of different types of events to do with many locations over the world. It’s not confined to just roads like in the original, so expect plenty of mayhem on the “track”. The rewind feature from GRID also makes an appearance which helps a great deal with some of the tougher races. The great thing about DiRT 2 is that you can play it at your own pace and there’s plenty to do.
Sure, we’ve had the brilliant Forza 3 since then…but for PC owners, you simply will not find a better racer this year. Ultimately, the game improves upon the original in every way. Races are more fun; tracks are more varied, AI is more aggressive and challenging. Not only that, but the entire flow of the game is much better and you can pick and choose races at your leisure.
If there’s one concern I have it’s with the achievements that are only earnable online. I have had my gripes with GFWL in the past because after a game comes out for the service, a few months down the line and the online playability is very slim…making these achievements very difficult to get as a result, but not for the reasons that were originally intended. I’m not saying this will definitely happen to DiRT 2, but I’ve seen it with great PC games that deserve and crave more people playing them online. Examples that spring to mind are Halo 2, Gears of War and GTA IV. On the plus side, I’m sure that given time some players can boost them online if they go to an achievement site and exchange gamertags.

Vehicles handle superbly and look stunning…the detail is jaw-dropping, not just because of how great it looks, but because it has no detriment on the framerate. Tracks are also beautiful with superb effects like sand, dust and water all playing their parts. It’s also quite nice to be referred to by your real name through audio; it gives it a nice personal touch. Music is fitting of the series and does not disappoint.

The Verdict

While not a revolution by any means, DiRT 2 is more than a worthy successor to the original game. It’s a game that not just defines the series as a whole, but one that does Colin McRae justice. The name hasn’t just been slapped onto a poor title…the team has worked at making a game worthy of the legend and they sure have succeeded. PC gamers looking for the best racing game of 2009 need not look any further.