Dirt 2 on the DS at first was the game I really wanted to hate, but over time I just couldn’t bring myself to it. The thing is, whenever I see titles with mass releases across all platforms I begin to get a bit leery. Usually when titles are spread out like that, the portables are the ones that suffer because they tend get a half assed version of the game, with little to no features. More often then not these games have only the title bearing any similarity to their home console cousins. Dirt 2 on the DS however, is probably the most different out of the bunch yet it is packed to the brim with enough game play and features to keep just about any racing fan happy.
In Dirt 2, you will race all over the globe in some of the most exotic locations. You’ll also get behind the wheel of a wide range of vehicles like the Subaru Impreza, WRX STI, Nissan 350Z, Hummer H3, Mistubishi Evo and Kincaid Ford F150 and more. It’s nice to have all those vehicle options at your disposal, especially for a handheld game. You’ll use that arsenal of vehicles in different play modes like Career, Quick Race, and Time Trials. The game also allows for you to “get DIRTY in multiplayer” (their words not ours) as it has support for up to 4 other players over Wi-Fi. It also has the awesome ability of wireless single card play!
The game play in Dirt 2 is a lot of fun. The cars have nice weight to them, which allows for some of the sweetest drifts seen on a handheld in a while. Not to toot my own horn but my replays look like a highlight reel from the X-Games. The 2 main problems I had with the game play were the difficulty setting and the AI. The thing is even when you set the game to Pro (the highest difficulty), as long as your car was upgraded, the AI didn’t really have a chance. The first 10 seconds of a race dictated its outcome, because once you get into 1st place (unless you hit one of their conveniently place gigantic boulders on the track) there’s pretty much no looking back. And as far as the AI is concerned, it felt like Corky and Radio were driving the other cars. Somehow they didn’t get the memo that we were in fact racing, and not participating in a destruction derby. It seemed that whenever I tried to make a move on them they would move as one cohesive unit to try ram and block me. It takes away from the realism when each car isn’t doing their own thing.
Graphically, you’ll have trouble finding a DS game with this much stuff going on (on both screens). There were times (when I was cruising in first place) when I had the opportunity to take in all the vistas and they were quite impressive. Good enough to rival most racers on the PSP even. I did however notice a tiny bit of frame rate slowdown when other racers came into the picture, but that’s a small critique, because I was looking for it. It probably won’t be noticeable to too many players out there.
The biggest feature besides the graphics and game play is the incredible level of customization the game allows for. It’s being touted as “the most powerful track editor in portable gaming” and their probably right. It’s a full 3D race designer, you can design, then race on tracks to your hearts content. Even the vehicle customization options are crazy, allowing you to create custom decals! This turns the touch screen on your DS into a full-fledged mini Wacom tablet. Simply. Awesome.
Again, I wanted to really hate Dirt 2 for reasons unbeknownst even to me. I just couldn’t bring myself to it though. The title grew on me big time, and I have to say if your looking for a racing fix on the go this fall, give this game a try.
Developer: Firebrand Games (DS)
Release Date: 9/8/2009