Colin McRae: DIRT

Key events

3rd October 2007

Colin McRae DIRT

12th June 2007

Colin McRae: DIRT

Dead Space, DiRT on GoD today

Space horror and rally reboot go digital.

Microsoft has confirmed that Dead Space and Colin McRae: DiRT will both be made available on Xbox 360's Games on Demand service today.

Powersliding, while a glorious, evocative word for petrolheads, proved an irritatingly elusive dynamic for driving game developers of the 1970s, eighties and very early nineties. Indeed, it was only the remarkable acceleration the genre benefited from as a result of videogaming's transition to 3D (coupled with the renewed processing power of enhanced hardware) that finally enabled the recreation of drifting a box of polygons sideways through a corner in a manner that felt satisfyingly convincing. Up to then, even the most fervent member of the Sprite Generation knew deep down that adding smoke and screeching effects la OutRun just didn't cut it. If you're going to give the illusion of powersliding, you need to do it in three dimensions. Namco's absurdly popular Ridge Racer was an early front-runner in this regard and soon found a rapidly growing number of efforts from other publishers in its slipstream.

Colin McRae DIRT

Colin McRae DIRT

A fitting finale.

It's fair to say that being a PlayStation 3 owner has, to date, demanded the sort of patience that would test even the most hardened Sony apologist. If the European launch delay wasn't enough of a bitter pill to swallow, this year has seen all manner of top-tier titles launch weeks - if not months - later on PS3. By the time games like GRAW 2, FEAR, Rainbow Six Vegas, Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Oblivion turned up on the Sony system, they were already old news. And the trend has continued recently, with a succession of irritating delays to highly regarded titles like The Darkness, Skate, Stranglehold, Medal of Honor Airborne, and Colin McRae DIRT.

We've taken the unusual step of re-reviewing the latter title for a few reasons. Firstly, PS3 owners might not necessarily appreciate just how good this game is - by their very nature, tardy ports tend to go under the radar, with hard-pressed publications likely to prioritise new stuff ahead of a conversion that's likely to be functionally identical. But DIRT deserves an extra push, partly because it's largely excellent, but also because it got unfairly overlooked when it was originally released on Xbox 360 June. Unfathomably released alongside the juggernaut that was Forza Motorsport 2, it didn't quite get the attention it perhaps deserved.

Aside from all the scheduling recriminations, it's a game which deserves to be hailed as one of the best racing games of the year on PS3, and certainly up there - if not better than - Motorstorm in many respects. Needless to say, Colin McRae's untimely passing the day after its release on PS3 also grants it a special significance. His enthusiastic input, inspiration and influence on this excellent series is something worth celebrating.

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Codies responds to McRae tragedy

"Will never be forgotten."

Codemasters has issued a statement responding to the tragic death this weekend of Colin McRae, expert adviser to and inspiration for the famous rally game series that bore his name. We are reprinting that statement here in full.

Rally driver Colin McRae - known to millions of gamers as the face of the Colin McRae Rally game series that he helped create - died along with his young son in a helicopter crash on Saturday.

DiRT demo on UK PSN

But US has lots more.

Codemasters has traipsed mud all over the PlayStation Store this afternoon, where it's left a Colin McRae: DiRT demo for you all to try out.

Forza 2 in pole position

McRae: DIRT in at four.

Microsoft's Forza Motorsport 2 continues to outpace the competition, is reporting, remaining at number one in the UK All Formats charts despite a 34 per cent drop in sales.

Colin McRae: DIRT

Colin McRae: DIRT

Now wash your hands.

We've only just noticed this, but there hasn't been a good rally game since Rallisport Challenge 2 on the good ol' Xbox. That's pretty shocking really, especially when you consider that before that, you'd see a new off-road racing game every few months. Then again, perhaps that's precisely what killed off developer enthusiasm for the genre - as the market filled with uninspiring rally titles like Rally Fusion and Richard Burns Rally, the world just seemed to lose interest. Who better, then, to breathe new life into this ailing sub-genre than Codemasters, the guys who first showed us how well consoles and rally racing could coexist back in the early years of the PSone? And with the very same series that showed us just how exciting real rallying could be the first time around, no less. C-Mac in the house, y'all.

After a lavish introductory sequence, DiRT stumbles for the first time as it's introduced not by Mr McRae but by American counterpart Travis Pastrana. This in itself is no shortcoming, sure, but Pastrana's X-Games past starts to come out as he congratulates you for victories with suitably unexpected terms such as 'wicked'. We'd expect that from Neversoft or even EA but Codies? Nope, didn't see that one coming. Even your co-driver indulges in similarly gnarly skate speak, often commenting on how totally stoked he is or celebrating a race victory like a loudmouthed jock might celebrate a touchdown. All this is somewhat jarring, especially given the wonderfully clean and mature presentation of the game. We can safely say that we've never had a rally game address us as 'dude' before.

This Americanisation is even carried over into the core of the game itself, which now encompasses a variety of CORR off-road events from the States. From remarkably nippy dirt buggies to hulking big rigs, there's plenty of variety here but just not a lot of entertainment. Perhaps that's not entirely fair - the buggies are a speedy and suitably different challenge but the problem is that once you get into anything bigger than an Impreza, things get so sluggish and messy that you'll be left longing for the next traditional rally race. Career mode pulls of a major coup using the relative weakness of these new elements, as starting out with a fairly tiresome CORR event makes the rally stage that follows it feel shockingly fast, exceptionally tight and almost like it just fell out of a totally different game. But as things go on, you'll quickly learn that the rallying masterpiece that shone through during that second career race isn't a different game at all. DiRT is, for the most part, an impeccable rally title, let down only by a fistful of dodgy events and the odd technical hiccup. Allow us to digress.

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Colin McRae demos live

On Xbox 360 and PC.

As promised during yesterday's promising, Colin McRae: DIRT demos are now available for Xbox 360 (768.9MB) and PC (875MB).

Colin McRae: DIRT dated

PC, 360 demo tomorrow.

A source close to Codemasters has revealed that Colin McRae: DIRT will be released on Xbox 360 and PC on 15th June. The PlayStation 3 version is expected to follow at a later date.

FeatureCodemasters' road ahead

The publisher shows all at its Code07 event.

Codemasters showed key titles for the year ahead at its Code07 event in Bedfordshire earlier this week, airing nine titles and making announcements for Operation Flashpoint 2, Rise of the Argonauts and Race Driver One.

Solid CORR at heart of DIRT

Sadly not Andrea.

Colin McRae: DIRT will include the US-based Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) series when it ships on Xbox 360 and PC this June, and PlayStation 3 shortly afterward.

DIRT will push next-gen

"Right from the off" - Raeburn

Colin McRae: DIRT will push next-gen systems in ways we've not yet seen, executive producer Gavin Raeburn has told Eurogamer, and it's all thanks to the newly designed "Neon" engine.

McRae DIRT in June

Codemasters says so.

Codemasters is planning to launch Colin McRae: DIRT simultaneously on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC in June, the publisher told Eurogamer this morning.

The DIRT on Colin McRae

New name, first shots.

Codemasters' first rally outing on next-gen platforms will be called Colin McRae: DIRT in PAL territories, where it will launch on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC simultaneously in 2007.

Next-gen McRae confirmed

Next-gen McRae confirmed

And coming in 2007.

Codemasters has confirmed that a new Colin McRae Rally game is currently in development for next-gen platforms.

But which platforms, exactly? Well, they're not saying just yet, but we do know that the new game "will go beyond the series' point-to-point rallying to deliver the most diverse selection of extreme off-road competitions." EVER, presumably.

You can expect mud, dirt and gravel racing events from all over the world, including Hill Climb and Rally Cross competitions. There will be officially licensed cars and tracks based on their real-life counterparts, plus an online multiplayer mode.

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