Most gamers are well aware that they should keep their wallet handy whenever Rockstar put out an open world action game, or when Blizzard release some that has to do with adventure or strategy. The same should be true for Codemasters and racing games, as the British developer/publisher has proven their skills over many years and excelled in their genre.
Something they can prove once again with Dirt Showdown, what could be described as a little snack in between the main releases in the Dirt franchise, and our preview code proved to be as explosive as anything we've raced with before.
The game oozes of a loving attention to detail from the very first second as colourful, transparent menus appear to blend into the backdrop. The road is wide open with opportunities, and we push the accelerator to dive straight into the action.
There is less of a serious nature to this instalment of Dirt and a uncreative PR rep would probably refer to it as the "bad boy of the genre". It's a completely unnecessary labelling of a game where races are made up of, for the most part, chaotic experiences with lots of smashed up twisted metal and wreckless driving.
One of the first tracks we tackle in the preview code is shaped like a figure eight, which means you don't just have keep an eye on what's happening in front of you and behind you, but also what might be about to ram your side. Other tracks start out more peacefully, but suddenly several routes merge into one and turns into metal mashing contest.
If you don't even want to bother with the pretence of a race you can go straight into the "Knock Out" mode, where 8 cars try and knock each other out in an arena like experience. You're always short on time here, and the player who has caused the most frontal collisions is awarded with first place once time is up.
The third and final mode available in our preview code was the returning and improved Gymkhana mode found in Dirt 3. In this mode you're tasked with performing tricks such as power slides and donuts in certain sports, make jumps and generally push the envelop when it comes to the capabilities of your car. It feels more polished this time around, and the few problems I experienced in Dirt 3 getting my car to behave the way I wanted are nowhere to be seen.
Codemasters have found an extra gear in the graphics department, with an engine that was already best in class. It's difficult to say whether the game looks better than Dirt 3, but Dirt Showdown is a great example of the potential that lies buried in this generation of consoles and a great example of what lots of colours adds to a racing experience.
It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that we're excited about the prospect of yet another racing experience from Codemasters, but given that this is something of a side track or special stage if you will, we were still a bit unsure of how we'd like it. This preview code indicates that is a game racing fans with a inclination towards chaos and speed have a lot to look forward to.