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Colin McRae Dirt 2 Review

Mud-dling by or kicking up a storm?

The clue's in the name. Colin McRae: Dirt 2 is the first of the late Scot's rally games to appear on the Wii, and it's about time too. The series to date has gone from strength to strength, evolving from faithful representations of rather lonely timed stages, to a series of other disciplines featuring a range of different vehicles. Now we have this, a game which basically consists of a World Tour of races through a variety of locations.

So, yes, there's dirt aplenty - and that's just what you want in a rally game. Dirt is plastered all over your once pristine car's paintwork as you career through clay, sand, mud, dust and a range of other surfaces. Perhaps the other crucial element of rallying, one that sets it apart from strictly track-based racing, is crashing - spectacular, barrel rolling, tree flattening, photographer-scaring write-offs.

Click to view larger image

Around The Bend

Dirt 2 has a proper crack at recreating that feeling of an epic smash up being just around the corner, but the problem is that if you stray too far off the trail you're 'respotted' back onto it. Thus you won't see your ball of twisted metal smashing down a cliff, no matter how hard you've tried to launch it on its way.

Of course, it saves you losing too much time in the actual race, but if you take the driving aids off you'll find yourself regularly clipping rocks and flipping over mid-race. Not in a frustrating way, but in an exciting, going-for-broke way. Just like the way Colin McRae himself used to drive, in fact.

The game is oh-so-nearly stalled by the slack Wii Remote control option. There's an option to control Dirt 2 by holding the Remote on its side and tilting it to steer, with the 1 and 2 buttons braking and throttling. The thing is, the Remote is far too unresponsive to get your car around a course. It's too hard to detect the dead zone (where the steering wheel would return to its neutral position) and so directing your ride is a nightmare, though the Wheel does alleviate this somewhat. You're much better off connecting the Nunchuk and taking control the traditional way. Trouble is, there's no indication in the Options menu that you can do this. The control system alters itself depending on whether you have the Nunchuk connected or not, so that's something to be aware of.

In The Mode

There are three main modes: World Tour, Arcade and Challenges. The first is a fairly standard jaunt around the world through four basic levels of difficulty, taking in dusty desert trails, tarmac-based urban tracks, rusty-red clay ridges, hill climbs and other recognisably rally-esque locales. You're limited to racing against just three other cars, all of which seem to be driven by Mary Poppins for all the threat that they pose. All regulation stuff.

Click to view larger image
The first thing you need to do is get those driver aids switched off so you can have some proper fun, initiating huge slides round the looping bends and racing through corner sequences sideways. This is when Dirt 2 really comes alive; when you're out in front of the field and concentrating on nailing the best line through a section, or indeed wrapping your radiator grill around a tree. We're content with either outcome as they both get the adrenaline pumping.

Arcade mode is a more condensed version of World Tour, a single event or string of races, while Challenges mode is perhaps the closest in spirit to rallying (see the panel up there for more on that one).

It's not a knockout for the eyes - there are some basic shading and texture effects here, giving the game a flat overall look - but that's not detrimental to the sense of speed that is by far Dirt 2's most likeable feature. There's also a decent selection of vehicles, such as the zippy Subaru WRX, the Evo X and even a Hummer. Structure and control issues aside, Dirt 2 is a very welcome addition to the rather sparse Wii racing roster. With this and Formula One 2009 on the way, it seems Codemasters is looking to cement itself on pole position as the leading driving game developer.

Comments

23 comments so far...
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  1. Zeni Geva Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 11:55

    Glad to see ONM educating a new generation on the greatness of Sega Rally and the arcades... oh wait.

  2. thecoop Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 13:05

    This is why we need SEGA back on the racing games. Such a shame AM2 don't exist anymore. :cry: That used to *almost* guarantee a great game back in the day. Having said that, if I find it cheap enough, I might give it a go. Disappointing score though. How many courses are there by the way, ONM?

  3. LEGEND MARIOID Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 13:32

    I don't see the point of a racer on the wii that has the wii wheel style controls poorly implemented. That's just my opinion. I think your rating is a tad high by the reading of you review as well.

    Are you going to review the DS version as well?

  4. Andew Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 14:39

    I don't see the point of a racer on the wii that has the wii wheel style controls poorly implemented. That's just my opinion. I think your rating is a tad high by the reading of you review as well.

    Are you going to review the DS version as well?

    it's compromised by the nunchuk controls, that, or they sucked trying with the wiimote and opted for more control schemes

  5. Hellb3nt12347 Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 15:51

    wow i was expecting the game to be right up there... :(

  6. swearingmonster Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 16:57

    ohh no!

    codemasters had a great oppertunity and blew it (not completely though).

    This was game was going to decide whether I should delve into the racing games genre, but it has really put me off. I want excite truck but its too expensive everywhere at the moment (i never pay more than Ł20.00 for a game) :D

  7. Mrlizard Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 17:20

    christ that looks awful. can't wait for the 360 version tomorrow though =D

  8. ChrisONM Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 18:52

    Glad to see ONM educating a new generation on the greatness of Sega Rally and the arcades... oh wait.


    Why should we though? Just because this is a rally game? I'm confused.

  9. Zeni Geva Thursday 10th Sep 2009 at 19:00

    Glad to see ONM educating a new generation on the greatness of Sega Rally and the arcades... oh wait.


    Why should we though? Just because this is a rally game? I'm confused.

    I was thinking more along the lines of graphics, DiRT2 on Wii looks like a sub-par PS2 game. Its pretty laughable, even if it behaved ultra-realistically the visuals would negate that.

  10. lminett Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 12:21

    grahically it does look a bit dull but so far most of the racing games on the wii do, even Mario kart wii as much as i like it could look better. Still as long as the gameplays good then ill take a look

  11. lol364 Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 15:42

    i want to get it for psp coz its only Ł15 and the visuals are better and well i need a racing game on the go :lol:

  12. NintendoWiiNath Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 16:09

    Aint Colin McRae Dead?

  13. FreddieC Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 17:36

    I think this is a real shame, I was really looking forward to this game. It looks like this is a classic case of a multi-platform game not converting very well to the wii. The graphics on other systems or amazing, its a shame that the wii can't operate at the same level.
    Also I think it's worth mentioning that it is not codemasters' incompetence that means that the wheel controls don't work perfectly, it has never had a brilliant level of sensitivity and is OK for games such as mario kart wii but struggles with full on racing sims, e.g. ferrari challenge.
    Having said I still think that this game has a lot to offer on the wii and I will probably still buy it if I see it at the right price.

  14. LEGEND MARIOID Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 17:39

    Its unresponsive with the remote held on its side. However, the whole dead zone problem is negated "somewhat" by the wii wheel. SO, how bad is it exactly to control with the actual wii wheel? Surely, most people holding the remote on the side will go for the wii wheel attachment as so many have mario kart.

  15. Shaun K Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 18:09

    Aint Colin McRae Dead?

    Colin McRae himself is dead, yes...

    As for the Wii version, it looks appalling. NFS Carbon looked better, and that's been out for years. Truly shocking.
    I know that graphics isn't everything, but being unable to tumble off the track and wreck yourself? It's like as if they dumbed it down for some reason.

    I'm just glad I own a 360 as well as a Wii.

  16. Kolo67 Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 19:08

    It doesn't look that bad, and the actual way you see things on this site doesn muffle it a bit.

    I'm gonna ask for this for christmas as I bought Prime Trilogy and I can't get another game till christmas. Thats 3 months!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. LEGEND MARIOID Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 19:29

    Aint Colin McRae Dead?

    Colin McRae himself is dead, yes...

    As for the Wii version, it looks appalling. NFS Carbon looked better, and that's been out for years. Truly shocking.
    I know that graphics isn't everything, but being unable to tumble off the track and wreck yourself? It's like as if they dumbed it down for some reason.

    I'm just glad I own a 360 as well as a Wii.


    360s have over 56% "breakdown rate" though. Ie. they are very unreliable

  18. Zeni Geva Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 20:04

    Aint Colin McRae Dead?

    Colin McRae himself is dead, yes...

    As for the Wii version, it looks appalling. NFS Carbon looked better, and that's been out for years. Truly shocking.
    I know that graphics isn't everything, but being unable to tumble off the track and wreck yourself? It's like as if they dumbed it down for some reason.

    I'm just glad I own a 360 as well as a Wii.


    360s have over 56% "breakdown rate" though. Ie. they are very unreliable

    Glad I have a PS3 then.

  19. catscan93 Friday 11th Sep 2009 at 22:51

    Good thing I bought the frankly epic PS3 version, then, isn't it?

  20. ShadowofPain Saturday 12th Sep 2009 at 09:44

    The graphics on other systems or amazing, its a shame that the wii can't operate at the same level.

    Actually that's not necessarily true. You see it's not that the Wii can't operate on the same level it's just that the developers were seemingly too lazy. They must've been thinking "let's create a PS2 port and slap on some sloppy PS2 controls and BAM there we have it" rather than creating a game from the ground up specifically designed for the Wii.

    The Wii is capable of producing 360 like graphics (in a lesser resolution of course) but it takes a lot of work because the Wii doesn't come with its own tools and shaders. Developers actually have to make their own shaders (whereas with the other two consoles the shaders are already there).

    So yeah overall I think that this game really had a lot of wasted potential. :(

  21. LEGEND MARIOID Friday 18th Sep 2009 at 20:13

    Aint Colin McRae Dead?

    Colin McRae himself is dead, yes...

    As for the Wii version, it looks appalling. NFS Carbon looked better, and that's been out for years. Truly shocking.
    I know that graphics isn't everything, but being unable to tumble off the track and wreck yourself? It's like as if they dumbed it down for some reason.

    I'm just glad I own a 360 as well as a Wii.


    360s have over 56% "breakdown rate" though. Ie. they are very unreliable

    Glad I have a PS3 then.

    33% PS3 > 6% Wii :wink:

  22. LeeJay7214 Sunday 27th Sep 2009 at 18:55

    Aint Colin McRae Dead?

    try a little respect

  23. Nintendo Boy Wednesday 28th Oct 2009 at 09:10

    This looks good, although i'm not sure if i should wait until F1 2009 on Wii...

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