The second category is Driving Games. Driving Games is another category with a plethora of games to choose from, and one that can share games with other categories. For this example however, I wanted games that were strictly driving, and what better companies to look towards but Codemasters, EA, and Turn 10. Even Rockstar has thrown their hat in from time to time with their Midnight Club series. There are the Forza’s, and Need For Speed’s, F1’s and Rally. Driving games, like first person shooters, can make you feel different emotions while playing, but these are mainly just different levels of exhilaration, and sometimes relief. Hitting the tarmac with tires screeching can feel glorious if done well, and fish-tailing around bends while climbing as thin dirt path can be terrifying. Some teams have managed to do it better than others.
For the driving category, for lack of more space, I was only able to choose one game: Codemasters’ Colin McRae DIRT 2.
With the Honorable mention going to Forza Horizons.
Day 4 – Colin McRae: DIRT 2
When Colin McRae Dirt came out, it wasn’t by any stretch, the first of its kind. At its most fundamental, you’ll find a rally driving game. It wasn’t even the first rally game by Codemasters, as they had done Colin McRae Rally games prior. But they had taken a break from the series, and come back to the next generation a little more invigorated.
Dirt 1 was raw and dirty. It was also true to the sport. The cars were beautifully rendered and realized, and sounded real. Almost guttural. When doing the hill climbs, you felt the speed and the desperation of the vehicles as you expertly corner the next bend, dirt scattering everywhere behind the tires.
At the end of each segment or portion of the race, knowing you were leading the pack, felt like an achievement, as the game wasn’t easy. The main difficulty was the damage mechanic. The realism and realization that your car was literally falling apart around you was its selling point. Each rock, poorly landed jump or tree ripped components of your car away and with some of the rally segments – and damage – carrying over to the next day or 3, each car component is vital. A poorly judged corner and subsequent smashed rear brake might make the different between 1st and 10th tomorrow.
Rally wasn’t the only mode either; there were buggies, trucks hill climbs, and rival races.
Now, Dirt 2 took all this, added a festival feel to the campaign, and tacked on Gymkhana modes and tournaments.
Dirt 2 understandably had to make some sacrifices with the sequel by toning down the damage a bit, but adding a rewind feature and some water physics with matching windshield wipers. OH! They also added the option of hanging your own Xbox Avatar as a rear-view mirror ornament, to my child-like amazement – me, stupidly clapping and laughing dumbly as little iRogan hangs on, upside-down, for his life. A feature that no other game – to my knowledge, has replicated. Not even subsequent DIRT or GRID games sadly…
Dirt 2 was a cleaner, sportier version of Dirt 1, but this made it more fun all the same. It stepped up the visuals by making everything brighter and more colourful, but the rewind function did take away some of the difficulty curve that the first one had no problem reminding us of.