DiRT Review

20 05 2008

Ahhh DiRT the 360’s first (decent) venture into the field of off-road racing. DiRT is brought to us by Codemasters the same company that brought us the ToCA Race Driver series. DiRT is an interesting rendition of high speed, high risk off-road point-to-point racing (also known as Rally Racing), while the core race type is Rally Racing, other types of races are present and equally entertaining such as cross country circuit races, hill climbs, and one on one showdowns.

DiRT brings many things to the table, it has incredible graphics, sound, and physics, it has a massive selection of cars and tracks, and it’s one of only a few off-road racing games available on the Xbox 360. But… there’s always a but, there are also things to be desired, so without further ado, here’s the GBU!


  • Impressive Graphics: Cars deform realisticly in collisions, paint scrapes, the track and debris effects are amazing, and the dashboard view is one of the best I’ve ever seen)
  • Good Sound: From the throaty rumble of the classic muscle, to the Citroen C4’s turbo whine, all the car sounds are believable and powerful
  • Good Design: The game is well put together, a user friendly menu system, audio track navigation (more on that later), and well balanced controls combine to make this game accessible to a variety of age and skill groups.


  • The handling of certain vehicles can be touchy at best.
  • The weather effects (rain, mud, etc.) on the grip and control of the cars seems over the top.
  • The group race AI will often run you off the road in the beginning of large scale races as they take a set course each and every time. This forces you to start the race and worry about staying on the track, rather than getting an early lead.
  • Multiplayer only supports virtual racing, what I mean by this is, while you may be “racing” against 5 other people, they are not represented on the track, so essentially DiRT’s multiplayer mode consists of online time trials.


  • The voice support is hit-or-miss, it’s pretty difficult to get it to work, and when it does it cuts out frequently. Interestingly enough, Codemasters foresaw this and insituted a text chat system in which you select a line from 100 or so options, and it is posted into the “Chat” blade of the multiplayer lobby.
  • You cannot choose what track or car type you prefer when searching for a room, you can’t even control those when you host your own! All tracks and cars are decided by a voting system, with 60 seconds in between races, let’s see you refill the chip bowl, dash to the bathroom, and back in less than 60. Go.

The Meat:

DiRT is a game you would get for singleplayer, as there is virtually no interaction with other people aside from a flimsy, “Beat That!” multiplayer mode. Singleplayer is where DiRT really shines, you can set up a quick race, participate in a Tournament, or work on your racing career in the aptly named “Career mode”. Career mode is where most of the effort went, and it shows, upon entering the Career mode screen, you are greeted with the triangular monstrosity that is the Race Pyramid. You start on the bottom tier, and every time you finish a set number of races the next tier opens up, you continue on your quest for the top, until you eventually reach the summit that is the Champion of Champions event. Throughout your journey to the top you can purchase new cars, liveries (paint jobs), and tune your fleet of cars to perfection using DiRT’s deep tuning capabilities, while it may not rival Forza, those who actually know how to alter a wheels camber will feel right at home. Don’t sweat it if you (like I) can’t tell a camshaft from a carbuerator, there are a series of helpful tutorials for each part to help steer (ha) you in the right direction.

Once you have bought, tuned, and selected your new car, you are ready for a race, you can choose from a large list of off-road race types each with it’s own gimmick. Hill climb tends to have longer stretches of straight track for the high powered cars, Rally generally will have lots of turns and chicanes perfect for a quick compact car, and the Lucas Oil Truck series is perfect for the suppressed road rage in all of us. Throughout all your races you will have someone with you, whether it’s via Radio, or someone in your passenger seat, helpful voices will chime in to let you know that your clear to pass, going to fast, or that there’s a grade 2 turn coming up in 250 feet. The co-pilot feature in the rally races is really well done, the guy sitting in with you will tell you how far away a turn is, and how severe it is. Scaled from 1 to 6, 1 is the most severe whereas 6 is the long lazy turn you can take a 180 MPH.

Overall DiRT is a very enjoyable racer, with good physics, great visuals, and solid singleplayer, what it lacks in the multiplayer department is more than made up for the in the singleplayer options.

  • Visuals: 9.5/10 Beautiful in every way, easily one of the prettiest racers on the 360.
  • Gameplay: 7.5/10 It’s a racing game, on dirt… there’s no real originality, and the races seem to bleed together after a few hours of playing.
  • Audio: 9/10 The engine sounds are fantastic, and the in-game music isn’t too bad either.
  • Overall: 8.8