Dirt 3 Updated Hands-On - Sweden, Kenya, and Gymkhana, Plus Multiplayer Details

We spend some more quality time on the track and run some gymkhana stunts in the next Dirt game.

Dirt 3--the third game in Codemasters' popular rally racing series--is branching out. Instead of just being a game about the lifestyle of a racing star, Dirt 3 is going back to the series' roots by focusing more heavily on the rally racing gameplay of the first game. But it's also going to offer some alternative gameplay in the form of gymkhana-style stunt racing--the kind that has been popularized by racer Ken Block. These different elements will both appear in the game's revamped Career mode, which you'll begin as an established racer who travels freely across the world circuit with more much freedom to hop between different international venues (rather than being stuck in the same region, rerunning the same races until a season ends). When you're not competing on the circuit, you'll have access to your own custom lot behind South London's Battersea Power Station, where you'll be able to practice gymkhana-style stunts before taking on a variety of different challenges. We sat down with the game and tried out a few of the standard racing tracks, as well as puttered around the stunt course for a bit.

Dirt 3 will have more-realistic handling and tracks modeled on the great rally racing tracks of today, and of yesteryear.

The two circuit tracks we tried were the Sweden course we've covered previously, along with a brand-new track based on the Kenyan Safari Rally course, which has sadly been abandoned by the World Rally Championship but remains as challenging as ever. In the case of both tracks, and all other tracks in the game, multiple play-throughs will be different because Dirt 3 will have alternate lighting for different times of day (including pitch-black night races for which you'll need a codriver calling the next turn), as well as different weather conditions. These include driving rain, which obscures visibility; it also makes asphalt roads nice and slippery, as well as dust roads muddy. As designer Paul Coleman explained, the real variety in running Dirt 3's courses will come from the combination of weather and road conditions, along with Dirt 3's tighter handling, which models a slightly lower center of gravity for its cars.

We experienced how the slightly modified physics make a real difference in the game as we played through the Sweden course and then, again, on the Kenya run. While Sweden was a relatively easy course with a wider-than-normal road, the Kenyan Safari Rally took place on an appropriately narrow road that alternated between cracked pavement and full-on dust bowls. While cracked pavement is already not ideal for high-speed racing, dust roads slow your vehicle noticeably, adding an additional challenge to the course's tight turns and occasionally hilly terrain. Even on our Sweden run-through, which was in clear weather, we occasionally found ourselves struggling around hairpin turns when we tried to get cute and play the game like a full-on arcade racer. Yes, you can absolutely drift around turns by jamming the hand brake and accelerating into the turn, but depending on the road and on your vehicle (we played our courses in a rally-ready Quattro), you can and will go flying up that quaint little Swedish atoll to slam your rear bumper into that tree.

In addition to traditional rally racing, Dirt 3 will also feature the art of gymkhana.

The lower center of gravity for Dirt 3's vehicles lets you really throw the chassis's weight into a drift (or a gymkhana-style donut), but overdoing it will generally have you flying off track and looking like a jacka**. Fortunately, Dirt 3 will have ambient crowds that will show up to spectate certain races (depending on the weather and time of day--you won't see many crowds in the driving rain at night, for instance), so at least you'll have an audience for that shining moment when you go overboard with the oversteer and over the rail.

And, of course, the game will realistically model damage on your car, from layers of grime that pile up on the chassis after a hard day of rallying to all the dents, cracked windows, and hanging-by-a-thread bumpers that are the wounds of war to a rally racer. (In Career mode, having a damaged vehicle will actually impede your performance on the track, but in multiplayer, the damage will mainly just be for show.) More practically, Dirt 3 will have the flashback function of Dirt 2 and GRID, which gives you a limited ability to rewind your race if you completely screw things up. It'll also have an optional, per-race racing-assist function that will help you around turns, collisions, and other challenging hazards at the cost of limiting your absolute top speed.

After our whirlwind tour of Sweden and Kenya, we retired to the River Thames to explore the Battersea Power Station--our own personal gymkhana practice course. The station was already set up with numerous challenges baked into the layout, and the challenges activated seamlessly as soon as we approached. These included doing perfect donuts around a series of poles; knocking out piles of stacked boxes around corners; and jumping gaps, which we accomplished with a minimum of banged-up fenders and cracked mirrors. Each of these challenges requires a different approach to conquer, and they'll be color coded so that you can tell at a glance, for instance, that the next stunt will require you to drift around a turn to take out a pile of boxes in the advanced challenges. This is definitely a very different experience from the ebb and flow between the careful, calculated turns and the pedal-to-the-metal hard driving of rally racing. The final version of the game will have challenges narrated by Ken Block himself. (Don't worry, rally purists--while the gymkhana content will appear in the single-player experience, about 60 percent of Career mode will be devoted solely to rally racing.)

In addition to authentic rallying and stunt racing, Dirt 3 will offer several new multiplayer modes that encourage group play on the couch, supporting up to eight players online and two-player split-screen. These include party modes such as Cat and Mouse, a team-based mode in which two teams of four players each have three "cat" rally cars and one smaller "mouse" car (a 1960s-era Mini). In this mode, the mouse of either team must cross the finish line first to win, but the cats on either side can do whatever they want, whether that is protecting their mouse car from being run off the road or aggressively running down the other team's mouse first. In keeping with the continuing popularity of zombie outbreaks in video games, Dirt 3 will also have an Infection multiplayer mode where one player will start as the "infected" car (and carry a glowing-green aura) and must get close enough to infect as many other players as possible.

In addition to stunt racing and rallying, Dirt 3 will have all-new multiplayer modes.

And, of course, the game will include head-to-head racing by way of its customary track playlist mode, though the game will also include a new Pro Tour mode for hardcore players, which locks each player's perspective into a first-person headcam mode (no third-person view to see upcoming turns or obstacles in advance) and all mechanical damage affects your car's performance permanently over the course of however many tracks are lined up. Dirt 3 will have a lot to offer both rally purists and more-casual racing fans when the game is released later this year for the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and the PC.

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Discussion

156 comments
ste-g
ste-g

@Zobat-X its hard to call dirt the best driving game really, its the best rally/arcade racer but for racing sim then nothing beats forza. but i really cant wait for both dirt 3 and forza 4. i hope that there is plenty rally stages with horrible tight twisty corners like the first dirt too test my skill/patience.

Zobat-X
Zobat-X

Dirt Is The Greatest Driving Game All The Time !! It's The Godfather Of Racing Games Graphics Are Great Driving Is Amazing Codemaster Thank You For Your Games

EISPower
EISPower

This will be the racing game of 2011

da2g
da2g

I loved Dirt 1 because of its WRC rally style. The second Dirt really lacked good rallying and instead we had Baja cars and small circles that was making me mad - I hope there will be a lot of speeding on the muddy tracks and some tarmac/asphalt tyres screeching.

mitch22041972
mitch22041972

Not going to listen to eny reviews after i got burned with f1 2010 for the pc bug fest if you dont no what i on about head on over to the codemasters f1 2010 furom

mechag2
mechag2

Awesome! I can't wait for this baby! ^_^

patriotsnake171
patriotsnake171

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Halvo84
Halvo84

I am really glad they have brought back split screen multiplayer!!

vasgko2
vasgko2

dirt 2 had nice graphics but it was undrivable with my steering wheel for some reason. i hope this one will get it right

DriftMachine
DriftMachine

@exponential7216 Have tried right clicking and run as administrator. I have that issue with a few games, including GRID. You have a good card, but the ram and CPU specs are a little shy. I don't know how good your finances are but you can build a good pc out what you have plus a newer CPU(Q8300 for $120) and mobo (Gigabyte ep45t ud3 $130) and ram(gskill 4 gigs $100). I assume you got a 600 watt or better PSU. I don't use steam. Did you try that link I posted earlier? I can send you a newer os.

exponential7216
exponential7216

yeah, there are a few of us in Steam with Dirt 2 when we start it and get a "Dirt 2 is preparing to launch" then nothing happens problem. Got the same problem with 2 other Codemasters games...

exponential7216
exponential7216

windows xp media center edition, AMD athlon 2 x4 630, 2.81ghz, 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon 4870...I've reinstalled openAL, drivers, directx, Games for Windows Live, disabled CA firewall and antivirus....so many hoops, still hopeful though :-) maybe a patch will be posted...maybe until then i'll dust off my copy of TOCA 3

DriftMachine
DriftMachine

@exponential7216 what are your PC's specs? If I can help you I will. Just let me know. Specs are important. Video card being the most important one.

exponential7216
exponential7216

I actually got Dirt 2 off steam during a $5 sale, long after the initial release date. Still, that's $5 down the drain since i havent been able to play it....Downloaded driver updates, Directx updates, etc. still no go :-( still, most ppl won't have any problems with Dirt 3 but I'm still wary buying...

etcbrendan
etcbrendan

exponential7216: number one dont listen to conroybrink's previous post and dont ever give into console, number two try to stay away from downloading brand new games although convenient, i myself also could not play cod mw 2 multiplayer until they resolved the issue, weeks later. good luck

conroybrink
conroybrink

lol thats what you get for downloading off of steam,buy a console then you wont have to worry about it.

exponential7216
exponential7216

Buyer beware. I bought Dirt 2 on Steam, installed it, but it just wont start. I've had similar problems with other Codemasters titles as well as demos. Codemasters support hasn't been able to help, neither has Steam support. I know this is won't happen to the majority but I'd be a little wary. Maybe give the demo a try first and see if that problem raises its head or do a net search for "DIRT 2 won't start". I suppose if your system runs Codemasters titles with no problems then you have nothing to worry about...

daveyy6
daveyy6

Can't wait for it. Dirt 2 = Epic Dirt 3 = More epic

mrmime777
mrmime777

Codemasters > many other game companies because: They show love for the PC and optimize ports quite well. Their graphics and physics are jaw-dropping. They take feedback and ACTUALLY IMPLEMENT IT. They branch out in different directions with their games, and, if not what everyone wants, at least they're fresh and unique (Dirt, GRID, Dirt 2 were all highly enjoyable for different reasons). Craptivision, take a page from CM's book, please.

SPBoss
SPBoss

Back to proper rally and gymkhana = WIN

nyran125
nyran125

theres nothing on a console that PC doesnt have accept Tekkon, Fight night, grand turismo and the new Mortal Kombats. Oh and Uncharted 2 and a few of the recent EA sports titles. Practically Everything else (if its any good) is on a pc. Even NBA 2K11 is on PC. i can think of many more games than only 5 that are on PC, that arent on console though. Games that are simply to good to ever switch back to console. Total war and STALKER and The Witcher 1 and Race 07 and RFactor are only a few , I havent even mentioned Starcraft or the hundreds of adventure games and RTS's and FPS's dating right back to 1990 either. the F1 racing games (F1C 99-02 and Geoff Crammonds Grand Prix) and other Racing Sims on PC OWN OWN OWN console racing Simulation games. race 07 alone beats most on console just on PURE racing. On PC racing games your award is getting 1st and practicing the track for hours and hours just to get good at the track, not just turning a corner in a nice way to get some stupid award points like most console racing games. I like Dirt , i like GRID, I like Grand Turismo but they still dont come close to a real PC racing sim like Race 07.

philp37
philp37

I hope this game returns to the handling and overall game experience of the original DIRT.

ersten
ersten

@ phillkillv2 I quite agree and Dirt 2 was the worst of the two. At least CM took feedback from their "fans", which is not always easy: remember what happened with F1 2010. This said I've rarely used my G25 but the one day I tested all the PS2 and PS3 compatible games Dirt 1 was the winner.. by a big mile. It's still the same gameplay, we just need the rallies, and the last Dirt should be quite good. I hope. We'll see.

phillkillv2
phillkillv2

I don't like DIRT. It seems as if they took Colin Mcrae's series and just turned it in to a generic console game. All of his older hits like Colin Mcrae 04 were the best. Probably Rolling over in his grave. RIP Mcrae.

kyleh615
kyleh615

@nyran125: Sebastion Loeb has an exclusive deal with Polyphony Digital and is in Gran Turismo 5.

DriftMachine
DriftMachine

@THCpariah I sure anything can be hacked. I am trying to push the PC market up a bit. The more popular PC gaming is the more likely for more pc releases to come out. My experience with consoles has not been good. But consoles have more games available. I bought both x360 and ps3, and neither lasted much longer than a year. After spending several hundred on RMA's shipping or repairs or new units, I went to PC's. Best decision of my life. The Graphics are better, and you can do so much more than just gaming. I play about 3 to 5 hours daily. I run tripple boot. Mac osx Hackintosh Linux x64 mint julia Win 7 ultimate x 64 q8300 @ 3.0Ghz mounted on a Gigabyte Ep45 ud3p Thermaltake V-1 CPU cooler 4 Gigs Corsair PC-8500 1 Gig Saphire Vapor X 4890 3 1 ter hard drives 32mb cache 1 1.5 ter 64mb cache I am a little outdated but i still can play most games maxed out. with fps locked @ 60 BY THE WAY CODEMASTERS IS AWESOME GRID2 IS WHAT I AM REALLY WAITING FOR. I will settle for dirt 3 in the mean time. I hope it surprises me and i end up liking it more than grid

THCpariah
THCpariah

@DriftMachine its called a j-tag you can run 360 games off a external harddrive and ps3 can do the same with a jailbreak what do you mean consoles can't run no cd just because you can't do it doesn't mean it can't be done

DriftMachine
DriftMachine

I can't wait for this come to out. I am more anticipating when Race Driver G.R.I.D. 2 is getting released. I will get this first, since it will be released first. I have both current versions. I still play grid, but I nearly never play dirt 2. Pc always smokes consoles, if you have a good card. Many people have converted to PC's after playing on my system. But PC's have less game titles available. But there is always a new emulator to try if if you want to play console. Besides who wants to swap disk, when you can get the no cd crack. Can't do that on a console. Codemasters has been pumping out many good releases lately.

sakin123456
sakin123456

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Timmy_Gwar
Timmy_Gwar

@nyran125 I would call you a minimalist, but you seem to enjoy swapping disks between your console and the mass of space taking hideous neon-green plastic boxes that litter your...wherever you keep them. Me, and I'm sure a lot of other people here would rather they add a bunch of new content and then slap in all of the previous stuff as what we like to call "a well deserved bonus for spending $60 on a game". If you would rather receive less for more then please allow me to eat the first half of all of your expensive NY meals sir.

nyran125
nyran125

FIRST of all, can someone tell me WHY Sebastion Loeb, the best rally driver on the planet and leader and KING of the WRC is not in this game. i hope theres nothing from DIRT 1 or 2 in it. The trick is if you like pikes peak in DIRT 1 but annoyed it wasnt in DIRT 2, GO BUY DIRT 1 and enjoy it, the graphics arent THAT much improved in DIRT 2. Heres the real trick buy DIRT 1 , 2 and 3. Then youll have all of the tracks and cars for all games. if you have DIRT 1 you have Australia, Italy, Germany, UK, and many others with more than 60 career events, nearly 50 vehicles to unlock, and more than 180 liveries to buy for those vehicles DIRT 2 you have Malaysia, USA, China, Japan, London, Croatia, with less vehicles and stuff than DIRT 1 Now DIRT 3 you have Kenya, Sweden, Finland to name a few and heaps of old rally cars also Get all 3 games and you have everything :):):)

Ultra-Dms
Ultra-Dms

Damn i cant w8 for this game, the gymkhana event looks AWSOME i loved Dirt 2 i never played Dirt 1 but i fell in love with Dirt Series by only playing Dirt 2, i love this game more "I suppose" because there is the Group B cars HELL YEAH, FTW.

F-14-D_TOMCAT
F-14-D_TOMCAT

For me the WRC lost alot of appeal when Kenyas Safari rally, touted as the worlds toughest rally, was dropped from the wrc callender. It is great that it will be included in dirt3.

joaand
joaand

@Duniq It says Norway because USA think Norway is the capital of Sweden :D

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Prepare for broken bugged game AGAIN wich u cant run normally without issues, every latest codemasters games have same issues for anyone.. search the web about bugs before you buy broken game

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Prepare for broken bugged game AGAIN wich u cant run normally without issues, every latest codemasters games have same issues for anyone.. search the web about bugs before you buy broken game

DKHardee
DKHardee

@KamuiSupremo DiRT is known as Colin McRae's DiRT overseas

KamuiSupremo
KamuiSupremo

Colin mc rae was a good game, dirt sucks. I loved it when the great colin was with us specially the Mcrae 2.0 they were pure driving not the stupidity of going around in a circuit, or driving endlessly in china, croatia where u can participate in the same track but different lenghts and checkpoints DIRT 2 sucks and I BET A MONTH OF MY SALARY that this is going to be the same.

sonic0491
sonic0491

Zombie mode? Gees what ever happened to the posh Colin McRae Rally series like 04 where it was just a nice challenging rally game? Its all zombies and rave parties in the background with the latest ones. The guy would be rolling over in his grave, pun intended.

Duniq
Duniq

Sweden? It said Norway on the frontpage index.... I feel cheated :(

franticfrost
franticfrost

wont hold my breath tbh..ive give up on new rally games,aimed at carebears and the wider market...ill stick with richard burns :D

larycv
larycv

I just want older vehicles (Peugeot, Ford, Audi...), gameplay from Dirt 2 but a bit improved and new tracks.... All the stuff you need to produce a great rally game

dillonpeterliam
dillonpeterliam

I loved Dirt 2 and cant wait for this. I like to turn the driving options on a lil easy so the game is like half sim and half arcade, I find it more fun that way.