Dirt 3 is a nice looking game, from the cars to the aesthetically pleasing environments. The graphics arenít just for show either, the mud, the snow and the rain all realistically impact the physics of the game and obscure the cockpit view if you play in that mode. Each location is created with a gorgeous eye for detail and the Dirt 3 engine is the best iteration yet for the series, it delivers some truly stunning vistas in places like Kenya and Finland. The frame rate is also rock solid and never shows pop in, pop out or stutters. Itís a finely tuned graphical engine this time around. The cars look the part and thereís a lot of detail in terms of livery and sponsorship logos on these motors.
The UI and HUD are also nicely done, the in-game HUD is packed with information but itís not cluttered at all.Physics
Dirt 3 features a significant upgrade to the physics engine used in Dirt 2. Itís a lot more responsive this time around, the cars handle better and thereís a lot more play in terms of drift and slide skills. Thereís also independent suspension so the cars rock, they roll and they move pretty realistically. It looks great in cockpit camera too. Damage can be visual or downright catastrophic depending on your settings, if you go for the full Damage Monte expect to total your car, leave a wreck on the track and get smashed to bits in the more aggressive rallycross and land rush modes.Animations
Peds get out of the way, the backgrounds are animated and thereís a lot of life to these tracks even in the most remote of places. The interior of the cars are all very well modelled and animated too. AI
The AI can get downright aggressive in some of the modes and it knows how to block effectively, especially on the higher difficulties Ė beware grudge holding vengeful AI knocking you off a cliff for example. It doesnít seem rubber-band based at all either, so you can see them make mistakes, oversteer and crash just like a human player.Sound
Dirt 3 is packed with lots of quality sound, from the tooting horns blown by pedestrians as you race around a corner, the various roars of the car engines and the screech or slew of tires. Itís all there and itís all well modelled audio wise.Music
Dirt 3 only plays music in menus and in replays, leaving you to enjoy the sounds of your co-pilot and the cars themselves.Voice
Dirt 3 has some decent voice acting, the various members of your team give you advice and encouragement as you finish or start a race. They arenít too annoying and they grow on you after a while. Your co-pilotís voice can be selected from a variety of voices and the instructions come through in-race clear and precisely regardless of the accent. In night time driving you may come to rely on that voice as you tear around a bend and nearly hit a tree.Multiplayer
Once youíve tapped in your VIP code, you can access the gameís online content. Youíll get the ability to upload videos to YT and get 5 additional cars. Of course itís no good if the Playstation Store is down at the moment, which of course it still is. Fortunately this is the 360 version so we were able to dive into the mp madness, and it is madness. Thereís little or no lag, thereís a lot of fun to be had and all of the single player modes are here to play. Sure there are points based matches that you might expect in many racing games...but...
Party mode is where the true fun of Dirt 3 lies. You havenít experienced anything until you have played the infection based Outbreak mode where one car is the zombie green car and passes on the infection to other cars until the last man is standing. Thereís a Cat and Mouse mode where two teams play escort or attack, one team tries to block access to the VIP underpowered Mouse Car whilst the other team tries to take it down.
Thereís a load of fun to be had here and exploring all the modes in detail would take a longer review, suffice it to say that thereís just something great about playing CTF in a car (which is crazy and probably should appear on Top Gear).
Thereís also split-screen multiplayer which is a first for Dirt 3.40, over sharp right.
Yes, Dirt 3 is probably one of the best rally racing games to tumble out of Codemasters fevered hands for a long time. Arguably better than Dirt 2 and packed with more fun modes than you can shake an angry Stig at. This is probably one of the most fun casual and hardcore racing games weíve had the pleasure to sit down and review and definitely more fun than the standard fare. Weíve had our Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (aka Cop Burnout) and our Forza 3, but Dirt 3 sits just between the two with enough fun for the casual crowd and enough depth for the more hardcore obsessed, itís a fine achievement and one worthy of play regardless of your gamer type.
Give it a go and you may just find you become a convert.