Opposable Thumbs 

Opposable Thumbs

DiRT

Codemasters Studios

The sixth installment of the Colin McRae off-road racing series DiRT offers gamers a reprieve from American-style racing; no tracks, no reinforced safety walls, no grandstands. It’s racer versus the natural terrain; gravel, foliage and, of course, dirt.

The rally racing format differs from American motorsport in that there’s no bumper rubbing or paint swapping, but primarily racer vs. clock time trials. But, there’s no lack of cocksure nerves here, as the dirt roads are, often, just wide enough for the car’s wheelbase and at high speeds, trees, boulders and fence lines lurk inches away ready to impale your vehicle. With a multitude of damageable parts, a blunder around a 180-degree turn can render your vehicle with a heap of mechanical problems affecting the driver’s ability to keep a trashed Peugeot out of the woods.

In an attempt to Americanize the game, Codemasters added CORR racing events — an American off-road format that features various trucks and buggies racing across desert courses in the Southwest — which consists of head-to-head racing. To further appeal to the red, white and blue, X Games gold-medalist and motocross poster boy Travis Pastrana lends his extreme sport California-isms ("Wicked!" "Dude!") — a fuckin’ bogus addition to the game.

Career mode pits gamers against the best off-roads drivers in the world competing in a variety of terrain — gravel, dirt, and blacktop — all with a distinctive feel as cars careen around the bends with varying grip. The helmet-cam view within the car awards gamers with a genuine sense of realism as white-knuckle terrain and eye-clenching collisions plunge through the windshield.

DiRT is a solid, attractive — some of the best scenery graphics around — alternative to the traditional racing simulators currently available. The ability to handle horsepower-out-the-tailpipe racecars up a mountainside road and actually turn right crafts a game with a playability that surpasses its peers.

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