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PSP  header logo

DiRT 2

For: PSP   Also on: DS

Off track

Product: DiRT 2 | Developer: Sumo Digital | Publisher: Codemasters | Format: PSP | Genre: Racing | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: US
 
DiRT 2 PSP, thumbnail 1
Like a fresh mud pie, DiRT 2 is dense with content, but sloppy preparation makes for an unappetising prospect.

The handling is too muddled to deliver squeaky clean rally racing. While there's some limited fun to be had mucking around with the single player game, it just doesn't sparkle.

World Tour is the main attraction, presenting four leagues - Clubman, Amateur, Pro-Am, and Pro - comprising four events apiece. Within these events are individual races that are completed to unlock new venues and vehicles.

Tackling them sequentially is all but required since races are unlocked in small numbers, granting little choice in which events to enter at any given time.

That's not as much a problem as the lack of options for selecting and tuning vehicles.

Forcing use of particular vehicle classes in World Tour strips the game of variety. You're able to choose from a couple cars from within a class, but there's no distinction in handling and performance. The absence of tuning only exacerbates the lack of choice, as well as keeping the game from achieving depth. At the most, you're able to change livery before rolling up to the starting line.

DiRT 2 could conceivably leave these shortcomings in the dust with white-knuckle racing, but the action is mediocre at best. With only four cars competing, it's difficult to achieve a high level of intensity. Instead, it's a matter of racing against yourself, aiming for the best possible driving line in each event.

Computer-controlled opponents do press you in the later stages of World Tour mode, though beating them is still a matter of sticking to an optimal racing path.

Of course, that's what rally is all about: devising the best route forward, taking instructions from your navigator in order to tackle tight turns and anticipate obstacles in the road ahead. Less than perfect handling makes this sort of proactive racing difficult, causing more complications than welcome challenges.

On tight turns, the inability to effectively drift through corners forces you to brake in order to turn without spinning out or colliding with the edge. This encourages you to drive more conservatively than the game's gritty style would suggest, judicious application of brakes being a far lesser evil than trying to take a turn at high speed and crashing into an obstacle for a complete stop.

The handling is good enough to get you through gradual turns, though any sharply angled manoeuvres highlight the game's weakness. This is exacerbated when driving on varied terrain, such as the rolling hills of Ethiopia, where catching air complicates steering.

Tighter handling would make it easier to enjoy the courses, as DiRT 2 features some fun, varied venues. Races in the aforementioned Ethiopia feature hilly sections, a climb up an enormous steppe, and a descent framed by rock walls. Other courses have you speeding through the deserts of Mexico, snow drifts in Iceland, and even paved Japanese streets.

Complementing World Tour are one-off races in Arcade mode and more than a dozen medal Challenges. The latter actually lend some of the more entertaining moments of the game, having you compete in lap-based elimination races, drifting and air-catching contest, and straightforward time trials.

There's also multiplayer, but with support maxed at four players via Ad-hoc mode it's not exactly a reason to buy.

Even with improvements to the handling, DiRT 2 would remain a basic racer. The amount of content here isn't the problem - it's the lack of depth. Introducing finer handling, online play, vehicle tuning, and a more liberal options for progressing through World Tour need to be baked into this mud pie before you can feel good about buying a slice.
 
DiRT 2
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 13 October 2009
Imperfect handling and shallow gameplay leave DiRT 2 in the dust of more compelling, competent off-road racers
 
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