Take all you know about the DiRT series and throw it out the window, because Showdown is a unique specimen in this on-going series. The focus on destruction is huge, and with 13 different race types, there’ll be many opportunities to twist metal. Great graphics, fluid control and lots of variety. What more could you want?
For racing fans, the DiRT series has proven to be one of the best for the genre, serving Colin McRae’s legacy very well. Each of the series’ titles so far have offered top-notch graphics, fluid control, realistic environments and most importantly, have been fun.
The best thing about DiRT might be the fact that it helps fill the void in a genre where few quality titles exist, much like Codemasters’ other popular series, F1. Combined together, ambitious racers get their choice of Formula 1 and rally – but what about those times when you just want to let loose and not take things too seriously? The answer should be obvious based on the title of this review: DiRT: Showdown.
To best understand what Showdown is all about, combine DiRT 3 and 20 tons of twisted metal in your head. Sure – accidents happened in previous DiRT games, and your car could get wrote-off, but Showdown takes things to the next level. It’s the ultimate destruction derby where the only thing that matters is that you reach the finish line first.
Making it feel more like a first-person shooter on paper than a racer, Showdown includes a staggering 13 race modes to choose from, three of which are exclusive to multi-player. We of course have our standard races, along with elimination and domination, but have things like 8-ball and arena tracks added to the mix, along with others focused on tricks. To say that there’s variety in Showdown is a gross understatement.
That variety carries over to the location list… as long as you don’t mind sticking mostly to the US. There, we have San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nevada, Baja, Miami, Michigan and Colorado. Bringing us to the opposite side of the globe in Japan, we have Yokohoma and Tokyo, and returning from DiRT 3, we head over to London for Battersea. We’re battling extreme heat, frigid temperatures and terrential rain – this is DiRT after all.
Like the other games in the series, Showdown‘s story is non-existent – you’re a determined racer, and you want to be #1. Want to race against others for the love of a certain girl? Race because it’s the only way you can afford medical school? Beat your fierce rival in front of everyone? Then your imagination has a lot of work ahead of it.
It’s impossible to not compare DiRT: Showdown to DiRT 3 because both games are similar in so many regards. The game engine, for starters, is identical. The car models look great, and the control feels similar between the two titles. Even the menu system is familiar, though it’s been tweaked (no more Triforce knock-off in Showdown). The audio, excellent once again, and graphics? Where racers are concerned, there’s none better.
For benchmarkers, the DiRT series has been the go-to choice ever since the original, as the games have been some of the select few that have actually pushed our current-gen hardware. The developers are clearly interested in utilizing the power our PCs offer, and proved it with DiRT 2 by being one of the first to support DirectX 11. In Showdown, a Global Illumination option has been added for enhanced lighting, but unfortunately we found the differences to be minimal at best, while the GPU performance impact could be as much as 50%.
To help keep the blood pumping, Showdown features a large soundtrack spanning a multitude of genres, with the de facto rock and electronic genres making a big prescence. And because it’s oh so important nowadays, you can also expect to hear some dubstep.