Codemasters Ruin Rallying!

Patrick AllenAnalyst IAugust 22, 2009

JYVASKYLA, FINLAND - AUGUST 02:  Khalid AlQassimi of United Arabian Emirates and  Michael Orr of Great Britain compete in their BP Abu Dhabi Ford Focus during Leg 3 of the WRC Neste Oil Rally of Finland on August 02 , 2009 in Jyvaskyla, Finland  (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

I am an X-Box 360 gamer and a Huge WRC fan. I did own a few early PC rally games, but my computer was never fast enough to run them properly. Imagine my joy then, when I could play on Colin Mcrae’s Dirt on the X-Box 360 with high quality graphics, and I hoped a realistic feel.

Now I enjoyed Dirt, and when I heard that a sequel was being made my face lit up. However, I had also bought and played Codemaster’s ‘Grid’ racing game and was thoroughly disappointed with the overly arcadey feel to game play. I am now writing this article as a furious protest having just thrown my controller down after playing the Dirt 2 demo.

I would like to stress that I have only played the demo and so I am obviously not 100% certain of the final product, but I think the demo gives a pretty scary insight into the direction that Dirt 2 has taken. This only terrifies me further when you consider that my other love, Formula One, is now in the hands of these people!

Although Dirt wasn’t specifically a WRC game, its main focus seemed to be on rallying. Sure I enjoyed the buggy racing and hill climbs, but nothing compared to taking a Celica around Spain, Wales and Italy to name but a few stages. The main career was OK I suppose, but where the game came into its own for me was the Championship section of the game.

In this I could either do one rally event, a European or the ultimate World Rally Championship. This sounds silly but after things like a lack of qualifying in ‘Grid‘ (an aspect pivotal to circuit racing) to do a super special stage at the end of a rally event on Dirt literally made me melt with joy (I know…I’m sad).

The cars were pretty great too. I am a Toyota fan and whilst I would have liked to raced in a Sainz Corolla, to throw a Celica around was good enough for me. I could also rally in Citroens (like my Hero Loeb, as they had the C4), Mitsubishis, Suzukis and of course Subarus. I was a little bit pissed off that I couldn’t use a Ford Focus (as I’m personally fond of the car and they are my current favourite rally team) but I was more than happy with the selection available. I could even race in a Lotus Exige, which again I was fond of having driven one very badly around Silverstone in real life.

Imagine my shock and anger then when it became apparent to me that the closest thing to the modern WRC that I can race in Dirt 2 is a Mitsubishi or a Subaru! For Christ sake you can rally a BMW in Dirt 2.…..when did you last see a BMW in the WRC!!!??? This really shocked and appalled me!

Now we move on to the drivers, and here Dirt 1 was poor too. Sure we had Mcrae to race, but where was Loeb, Gronholm, Sainz, Makinen, either Solberg brother etc? The answer nowhere! We were left with the game’s narrator and in house idiot Travis Pastrana.

So in Dirt 2, are we going to at least have the five-time World Champ in this game? No! Again, we have the American bloke who only raced in couple of rallies, with mixed results. Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with Pastrana……I just can’t believe there aren’t more WRC drivers, past or present there as well!

On to the events now and it seems as if Dirt 2 is moving more towards a skate game than a realistic rally sim, with graffiti writing and an extreme sports vibe. I don’t mind the trailer and some of the customisation options, but little hula girls on the dash board and crap hanging off your rear view mirror…..what the hell!!???

This game is turning more and more into a flashy stadium filled arcade game rather than a good all round, off road racer. I think the problem is marketing. Perhaps a rally game wouldn’t sell as well in the States, maybe the demand isn’t even there in Europe, I just hope that one day rally fans can have what F1, Moto GP and NASCAR fans have, a chance to race their heroes in their favourite cars and on their favourite stages.

Judging by the press releases and the Demo we’ll either have a long wait, or else we’ll simply have to keep plugging away at Dirt 1. I really do welcome comments on this article as I’d love to know what other people think of the game or whether people even want a WRC game. I am just one person, I’d love to know what other people are thinking……


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