Dirt Showdown Preview - Less Dirt, More Destruction

Forget rallying. Dirt Showdown is all about arcade thrills, spills, and destruction.

Is it possible to please everyone? For those in the business of making video games, probably not. Even for hugely successful franchises like Call of Duty--which have reached the kind of critical mass that many developers can only dream of--there are still people out there happy to complain about short campaigns, foul-mouthed 12-year-olds, and an overreliance on linearity. It's not just shooters, either.

While Codemasters' Dirt 2 was by all accounts an excellent game, there were some who lamented its in-your-face extreme-sports theme, craving a return to the simulation days of old. Then came Dirt 3, which began to lean back towards simulation, upsetting those who had grown to love the extreme-sports angle of its predecessor. It's a battle that seems impossible to win, but Codemasters thinks it has found the solution with Dirt Showdown, an arcade-style spin-off that takes the extreme-sports elements of Dirt 2, mixes in the Gymkhana events from Dirt 3, and then throws in some Destruction Derby action for good measure.

It's a mix that boldly differentiates itself from the main Dirt series (which will make a return with a renewed focus on simulation in Dirt 4), offering up three different types of anarchic racing, online multiplayer for up to eight people, and two-player split-screen play. The whole thing takes place in what Codemasters is calling a "theatre of racing"; that is, an extreme-sports theme that harks back to Dirt 2, with a festival atmosphere of cheering crowds, over-the-top pyrotechnics, and arena-based tracks. The handling has been changed too, eschewing simulation for a simpler arcade feel that should make keeping your car on the track and performing outrageous stunts much easier.

Stunts are integral to winning Hoonigan events, which make up one of the three types of racing on offer. There's Smash Hunters, where you have to smash objects within a certain time limit; Trick Rush, where you perform stunts for points; and Head 2 Head, a trick gauntlet where you take on an opponent and compete for the highest score. If tricks aren't your thing, there are standard races too, including Lap Attack, Eliminator, and Domination. Finally, there are the Demolition events; Rampage, where you try to destroy all the other cars; Hard Target, where you have to try to escape the other cars; and King of the Ring, where all the cars race towards a central point, meeting in a spectacular crash.

All those modes are available in Career mode and in multiplayer, either online or split-screen, as well as Joyride, which is a mission-based mode that ties in to Showdown's social features. Similar to EA's Autolog, Showdown lets you send challenges to friends, so if you've just run a stellar lap on your favourite course, you can challenge your friend to do the same. Standard leaderboards will also be included but will be more prominent in menus, so you'll be able to keep track of your friends' progress with ease, and no doubt get riled up when you see you're being beaten.

To ensure each race is action-packed, each of the courses has been designed with pinch points (areas of the track which close up and clump cars together), giving each driver a chance to catch up and. of course. encouraging contact between players. There are also numerous ramps scattered throughout each circuit for yet more destructive mayhem. The courses are based on popular locations from previous Dirt games, plus some new ones, and include Colorado, London, San Francisco, Yokohama, and Michigan.

There are three different vehicle types to take around each course, which are a mixture of licensed and fictional cars, trucks, and buggies. They're divided into three categories, each designed for a specific task: Racing, which includes muscle cars and SUVs; Hoonigan, which includes Ken Block's Fiesta; and Demolition, which is made up of strong, powerful vehicles. Though not every vehicle is officially licensed, most are based on real-world vehicles, just without the badges. There are some completely off-the-wall vehicles too, including a destruction-ready hearse-like car covered in skull decals and over-the-top exhausts.

We grabbed a brief hands-on with a very early version of Showdown, which featured a Baha racing circuit and a Destruction arena. Visually, there was little to differentiate Showdown from Dirt 3 at first glance, barring some enhanced details in the crowds and more in-your-face lighting effects from the fireworks that punctuated leaps we took off ramps. More noticeable was the handling of the cars, which felt very different. Whereas Dirt 3 required some practice just to get a car around a corner smoothly, here it was much easier to keep them on the track. The handling was very forgiving, even on the dusty Baha track, with our buggy hugging each corner and letting us pull off some impressive-looking drifts.

The Destruction arena let us get a taste of Showdown's multiplayer as we competed in an eight-player Rampage. Each car was launched into the center of a circular arena, where we inevitably smashed into each other, sending shards of debris flying through the air. Our goal was to smash our opponents as much as possible, with points awarded to us depending on how much damage we did. The small, enclosed circuit meant we were always in contact with another player, and before long our car had become a crumbling wreck, with a scrunched-up hood, missing wing sections, and a boot that flopped around as we drove around the arena. Eventually, our car gave out altogether, causing the wheels to fly off and forcing us to enter the arena with a new car.

Showdown certainly felt like a big change from the precision rallying of Dirt 3, but given the so-so performance of recent arcade racers such as Blur, Split/Second, and Motorstorm Apocalypse, it's one that could prove risky, even if it appeals to wider audiences on paper. That said, it was a lot of fun, with the vicious destruction modelling making Destruction mode in particular all the more exciting. Dirt Showdown is still in the early stages of development, so we're expecting a few more surprises from Codemasters before the game is released in 2012 on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Look out for more on GameSpot soon.

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137 comments
ger14
ger14

I hope that the destruction derby and damage is realistic. For example, the motor stalling, flat tires, tires coming off, radiators spewing out coolant, basically what im trying to say is, mechanical failure, not just cosmetic. I dont wanna just smash up my car and game over, i wanna start having problems with my car before its over. Right now test drive eve of destruction is still the best demo game out there IMO. Hopefully this will surpass it. Fingers crossed

Master_I
Master_I

Could be all good. I just hope that the actual "dirt4" is more rally, personally im not into the gymcarna or what ever its called, i just prefer streight up whizzing down narrow B roads, mud/snow/gravel/sand splattering all over the car!!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@markypants, Thanks for that, although i would of hoped CM would instead simply add all the new components into DiRT4 therefore providing a complete package, as opposed to the 'Nikel & Dime' approach.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

Just about a month ago i was talking to a couple of friends about how we missed the old destruction derby games, so for me this is fantastic news. And what a great developer to make it, one of the very best at racing games.Im glad that Codemasters are giving this a try, Its a bit of a risk for them, but hopefully it will pay off. I think its great, but i hope plenty of others will give it a chance also.

12345098765
12345098765

@markypants Finally someone explains it good.

markypants
markypants moderator

Err, just in case it wasn't clear, this is a spin off from the main series, so Dirt 4 is still happening. "It's a mix that boldly differentiates itself from the main Dirt series (which will make a return with a renewed focus on simulation in Dirt 4)"

CrashAce
CrashAce

Yeah! Finally, again the demolition derby is back from Grid.

sc_skullz
sc_skullz

yo, what is that song in the trailer. its beast.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Dont get me wrong, i love DiRT3 especially the Outbreak & Cat n Mouse modes and have always hoped for a map pack. I'm assuming that this is simply an addon DLC as opposed to a seprate product e.g. DiRT3.5, if so then i'll simply wait for DiRT4 thanks.

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

It'll be a pile of dog crap with annoying American rock music,with Ken Blocks surf dude annoying voice,Poor Colin Mcrea he'll be spinning in his grave god rest his soul.

e1337prodigy
e1337prodigy

@DJ8WORK Yea, I have been waiting for a DD game for years. I still remember the day when I brought that PS1 home and put in DD and that engine roared. Didn't like DD2 though.

e1337prodigy
e1337prodigy

I read up until I saw "Destruction Derby ", it's now on my top most wanted games. I have been waiting for a DD game for years.

DJ8WORK
DJ8WORK

Guys stop moaning.. this isnt Dirt 4, its a spinoff from Dirt 3 to please the more arcade gamer like in Dirt 2 where was Dirt 3 was more "Simulation" Im looking forward to this one with with more distruction derby action.. Hey who remembers that old classic PS1 game "Distruction Derby"?

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

Oh dear codies what have you done?

mediarays
mediarays

I need the mud splashing on the windshield,animals crossing the road and helicopters chasing me to take shots.Please bring back the legendary rally racing with some new roads and new cars.CMR is classic do not do anything stupid :)

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Yeahhh.. I don't know anymore about this series :? It seems once they dropped Colin McRae's name from the title it all went a little less serious. Dirt 2 was a brilliant game, but from everything I saw for Dirt 3 I was never interested. I understand they're trying to reach out to a wider audience with the whole 'extreme-sports' angle, but it's now nothing like it's predecessors. The Destruction Derby aspect is fun to think, Destruction Derby on the PS1 was a blast. However I still can't help feel they need to just reinvent the whole thing. By all means go off in a new wacky crazy extreme car jumping smashing franchise, but change the name. Dirt to me will always remind me of the legend that was Colin McRae and his rally games, but sadly this now no longer stands the case :(

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Sounds like a great fun, can't wait :D:D

guertt
guertt

I'm really sad about that news.I want a simulator rally game, not a kiddy racing game. I'm using a g27 wheel for god sake.not a controller. I guess i'll keep dirt3 and continu to dream.

rarson
rarson

@Purely_Awesome Yeah, I like the idea of demolition derby, and I get the connection to "dirt", but this doesn't seem to fit the idea of an actual Dirt title, which should be primarily rally racing, PLUS these other modes. Like, if they wanted to add demolition derby to the Dirt franchise, cool. But if they wanted to make a stand-alone derby/gymkhana game, why call it Dirt at all?

rarson
rarson

Looks pretty cool. Leave it to Codemasters to satiate my desire for demolition derby (it's about freaking time). There's been a few decent games over the years (I believe FlatOut had a few good DD levels) but none of them really managed to capture the fun of the original Destruction Derby for the PSX. I spent many hours with that game. I'm hoping this one will be just as good. The only thing I'm wondering is why they bothered to include Gymkhana. It seems a little out of place in this type of game. But whatever, can't wait to see how it turns out!

Purely_Awesome
Purely_Awesome

@scratchisme thank goodness I'm not the only one! Gymkhana was very unnecessary and I hated it but the pure rally races were awesome.

Purely_Awesome
Purely_Awesome

WHAT IS THIS!? DiRT 3 was great, but the game forced me to do the Gymkhana mode which isn't rally, which isn't great. I was hoping for DiRT 4 to be a pure rally game but then I saw this... this.. disappointment. I don't know about you guys but DiRT should have always been a rally game.

Nismology
Nismology

YYEEESSSSS!! Finally a current gen destruction derby game, and from the best developers to make it too! INSTANT BUY! Come on guys, I'm sure that Codemasters haven't forgotten the fans of their more realistic and serious games, I want GRiD 2 as much as the next man, but this game is the best news I've heard for weeks!

xeysz
xeysz

WE WANT GRiD 2!

JimInPT
JimInPT

Sounds perfect for all the backwards-hat mouthbreathers out there.

JudgeSim
JudgeSim

here we go with the 1 title per year releases. it isn't going to be much different than dirt 3

cloudwarrior79
cloudwarrior79

Codemasters Hang your heads in shame. If you make this then i want true rally and no bollocks in Dirt 4.

daivos
daivos

Couple of years ago I picked up Dirt 2 for $14.99 on Black Friday and played it to about half of the trophies. This year I picked up Dirt 3 for the same price and right now it is the primary game I'm playing. I think both Dirt 2 and Dirt 3 are really good. I don't know how they make money on this series. They come out for the standard $50-60, but drop incredibly fast. That being said, I've put too much time into learning to play and don't have any interest in a arcade-like dumbed down version, even if it looks great. If I want to race that style, I prefer ModNation or Mariocart.

Tzunoy
Tzunoy

Another franchise that forgot his core and go downward.

12345098765
12345098765

@pierrey22 I do love Rally. I love all DiRT games. But this seems finally to go on.

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

This could be good if it means all the stunty unrealistic crap is cut out of Dirt 4.

scratchisme
scratchisme

I hated the Gymkhana in Dirt 3 but loved the races. I could do without being forced to do the dumb Gymkhana stuff.

tgchan
tgchan

@jedikevin2 I know about rfactor but I am not into pc gaming at all. I play only cs on pc. Anyways I would love to see underground 3 even with arcadish driving damn!

12345098765
12345098765

What the hell is wrong with you guys!? This is going to be the first D derby since PS1. They finally made what sports that should be called "DiRT". The rallying was too much. What ever, it was a game to Mcrea. But we have passed that now. He's in gods hands now. We all love him, but they can't keep it forever.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of arcade racers, but I would much rather have dirt stay as a sim racer then have it go arcady

x4u4
x4u4

so max 160 u r fooling people right ?????????

Max_160
Max_160

yes they're splitting the game into short parts. for example look at the amount of dlcs they released. it has nearly as much cars as the full game itself. they release a 60 dollar half made game, make people pay another 30 for several dlcs, and few months later they announce another expansion called "Showdown" which has everything that Dirt 2, 3 has same maps and modes and cars but more casual handling(which doesn't mean it's a good thing) and give us 1 feature called derby. codemasters are starting to milk people big time. i mean i loved dirt 3, the physics the gameplay but the company is teasing people releasing small pieces to a game with limited features and by adding 1 piece at a time to steal more money. it's exactly like activision is doin. codemasters is starting to dissapoint me. all these dlcs seem so important to them that they forget to make big full games, make bigger rally tracks, and more licensed cars. :l

Dr_McTeabag
Dr_McTeabag

I just bought DiRT 3 wtf? So, instead of putting it all together in one game, they are splitting it apart and selling both pieces for retail price? I'll hold my judgment until release of both games but I don't think this would be good for the industry.

sasha08
sasha08

Hell Yeah Baby. Rock Solid Codmasters Can Do No Wrong. Tools That Don't Like It, R That.

link0206
link0206

this series get worse and worse, put more extreme sports stuff in, i won't be buying this again.

Pawfalcon
Pawfalcon

As long as they still make a more realistic Dirt 4 with a bigger emphasis on the "rally" part I don't really care if this one includes running over aliens and shooting at the mother ship. They can do whatever they want for the arcady fans as long as the real sport fans get their fix (that includes me). Might even be fun.