Destruction Derby was one of my favourite games on the PS One, it had everything a next generation game needed; (compared to SNES) proper music, 3D graphics, car carnage and some laugh a minute fun when it came the bowl. So why has it taken 15 years or so for another game of its ilk to hit a console?
Well, I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that Codemasters have decided to replicate the thrills and spills of a destruction derby with their latest offering/spin off. DiRT Showdown.
And with DiRT Showdown, Codemasters seems to have nailed the multiplayer angle that blights so many other racers. You see, the down side to online racing is sheer numbers, far too many playing which inevitably leads to there being more losers than winners. Thanks to the variety of gameplay styles and its all-important Battle arenas and knock out stages that that makes this game shine from the normal race to the first place podium.
And it’s a good thing too that Codemasters have put a lot of time and effort into the multiplayer aspect of the game as the single player falls a little flat.
You have your traditional bowl, where you and your fellow racers start at the edge and all drive to the middle at the same time, causing some serious pile ups, and really putting Codemasters damage modeling to good use. A neat twist on this is the knock out arenas, where the game turns into more of a sumo match than a racer; the idea being to push your opponents out of the arena to score big points. It’s a nice addition to the game and breaks up what is otherwise run of the mill racing.
The racing itself works well, With cars handling with ease and more forgiving than most ‘serious’ racers, you can throw your car around the track and initiate some serious drifts in no time, meaning it’s perfect pick up and play material. There are a multitude of cars that become available as you go through the game from dune buggies to hot rods, there isn’t much in the way of tuning and customisation, which further embeds the ‘arcade racer’ style that codies are reaching for with this spin off.
The main concern I have with DiRT Showdown is how ‘lite’ it feels, the single player campaign can be completed in a single sitting, with first place finishes coming on my first play through with no real challenge, and I’m not a racing game expert by any stretch of the imagination. It simply serves as a way to unlock the various arenas and modes as you proceed up the obligatory career ladder. It’s simplistic and basic and could quite have easily been a downloadable title rather than a full boxed release. But it’s not to say the brevity of the single player mode is bad, it does have a lot of modes under the hood, including races, eliminators, drift attacks and of course the all-important destruction derbies, all of which are ready and waiting for you in multiplayer.
Dirt Showdown, it is what it is. If you’re expecting a hardcore racing sim like what the Dirt series is famous for, then you may want to skip this latest offering. If you’re looking for a solid, single player racer, then again, you may want to miss this pit stop. But for multiplayer thrills this is one hell of a ride.
Sure the single player is brief, but to really get the most out of Dirt Showdown you need to speed your way into the multiplayer arenas, there simply isn’t anything else out there for online, over-the-top mindless fun, couple that with some pretty special visuals and a damage engine that’s working in over drive, you have yourself a game that can get as seriously addictive as a bottle of moonshine.