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DiRT Showdown is the latest entry in Codemasters' popular DiRT racing franchise, which takes white-knuckle racing off of paved roads and into dirt, mud, gravel, snow and plenty of obstacles. The new game outshines previous titles in many ways with more cars and more to do. The only major downside is that this time around, many of the cars are unlicensed knock-offs of the popular real-life rally racing models featured in the previous games. Other than that one foible, this is a great and semi-realistic arcade-style racer that should provide great replay value for any fans of the genre.
Graphics and Sound
DiRT Showdown looks and sounds outstanding. Each car, whether it is a real-life model or an original creation, is rendered with loving detail and features full damage modeling for when you inevitably smash it into obstacles in your way. The sound track is simple but effective, with great engine tones and all the bumps, groans and crash noises you'd expect in a game that tends to focus on destruction.
Racing is divided into three categories. Circuit racing pits players against each other on dirt tracks with tight corners that come up fast, plus plenty of obstacles in the way between you and the goal. Hoonigan mode mimics the gymkhana-style precision rally cross driving that has turned ace wheelman Ken Block and his Ford Racing Fiesta into internet celebrities. Finally, demolition derby mode is just as it sounds: a no-holds-barred competition to destroy all the other vehicles and be the last one standing. Each of the events offers a few different play styles, based on the availability of different maps with very different characteristics.
DiRT Showdown differentiates itself from previous titles in the series with a robust and fun multiplayer mode, complete with easy race matching, results tracking and a persistent leaderboard to keep track of your progress against other players. You can play against another driver using the split-screen mode, or connect your PC to dedicated and always-on servers to duke it out against friends and strangers in one of the many multiplayer modes.
Lag is nearly non-existent and never takes away from the game experience, at least in the game's early stages without too many players on the servers.
Fans of previous DiRT games will find lots to love with Showdown and endless replayability thanks to the diverse and robust multiplayer experience. More real cars and less generic ones would have created a more immersive experience, but overall this is an outstanding arcade racing game with a nice touch of realism in its game play and impressive crashes.