IDL FEATURE – Day 4: Driving – DIRT 2

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

Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters

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.

<– Yesterday – RAGE
Tomorrow – Third-Person Category: Spec Ops – The Line –>



For the First Person Shooter category, I’ve chosen 3 games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1, Halo: Reach, and RAGE.

Honorable mentions to: Far Cry 3, and Homefront.

Day 3 – RAGE

Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Software

The last game on the list of my favourite First Person Shooters from the last generation is RAGE. From the team that gave us Doom, id Software. You could argue that this game never belonged on the last generation, but it did push the consoles to their stops, and kept pushing.


RAGE introduced us to a post-apocalyptic world, not unlike any other post-apocalyptic world. The world of RAGE is very barren, and rocky, and sandy, but it has plenty of blue skies. It is a time where most of humanity is now gone, perished. And the few that remained have to fight to survive. It is like the Wild West, outlaws around every corner, many dangers lurking.

Humanity is split into 4 different groups:

The locals – who are fighting just to survive, they grow food, and are just trying to make a life of it. This group sticks to the towns, or live off their own little dwellings and land.

Then, there are the bandits who roam the wasteland and have their own secluded portion of the land. This group picks off anyone who dare venture out of the towns. They’re a pointy, prickly bunch.

Next up, there are the mutants. This group is relegated to the sewers. They occasionally venture to the surface to make sure their presence isn’t forgotten. They come in all sizes, mostly small, but an odd, mountainous giant comes up for fresh air.

And lastly, there is the law. This group has a very large station in the sky and sends militants down to keep the peace, or for their own nefarious purposes. As the protagonist, we have to deal with all groups as we navigate the world and story.

The game tells a very interesting story at that, and introduces us to a lot of unique characters as we progress from town to town, sewer, to wasteland and then towards the stars, and back.

The world is gorgeously rendered, and this is the main proponent of the game, arguing its quality. Character design and vehicles are beautifully brought to life, and animations spot-on. But it’s the world design. Every part of the land, towns, and sewers is painstakingly hand-crafted by the artists. No reused textures and all the lighting and shadows are pre-baked. It’s still hard to still believe that this game was made available last generation.

The large mutant fights are still one of the satisfying highlights of gaming for me, and watching a pyro soldier slowly spin and launch away with his propane tank strapped to his back, one of my most sinister. The game strove to change what a first person shooter was, as id Software has done on many occasion in the past. They make it a point to change the mold, and introduce new mechanics; this time with the boomerang, spider-bot, and different ammunition types for all weapons – changeable on the fly.

The game also features a crafting system. Built by scrap parts, you can create the alternative ammunition for the weapons, handy turrets, or spider bots. These help in all situations, as the firefights can be quite frantic.

The game slowly did lose its path and pacing as it went on, and sadly ended without any real bang, but the journey is still a spectacle.

<– Yesterday – Halo: Reach
Tomorrow – Driving Games: Colin McRae’s Dirt 2 –>


IDL FEATURE – Day 2: – FPS – HALO: Reach

For the First Person Shooter category, I’ve chosen 3 games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1, Halo: Reach, and RAGE.

Honorable mentions to: Far Cry 3, and Homefront.

Day 2 – HALO: Reach

Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Around the time that the Call of Duty war game train was starting to pick up speed, another little title, a very different title, called Halo, came out. This was Microsoft’s exclusive baby, designed by a team called Bungie. Originally released on the first Xbox, this game has now sparked, as of this coming October, four sequels and two side story games, along with many other publications, stories, two episodic – for lack of a better word – TV shows, and continuous movie talks. It’s not just a game anymore, but a household name.


The Halo games are very different from the Call of Duty’s out there. The game is a space fantasy, with humans in battle armour fighting aliens. You’ll be shooting with human guns and alien guns, and driving a plethora of different vehicle types. The game is also co-op from mission one, onwards.

The game is more colourful, the enemies and enemy types more plentiful, and the story much grander in scale. It is a space epic.

After the first trilogy was done, and a side-story out of Halo 3, in ODST, completed, Bungie decided to part ways with Microsoft and venture out into the world and make something new. Before doing this however, they released one final Halo game – Halo: Reach. A prequel, of sorts, as the game took place on the Spartan planet of Reach, the story focusing on a group of Spartans, and not Master Chief.

Reach was Bungie’s swan song. It was their best designed game from the ground up. Their best story-telling, and a venture into newer territory, before leaving the comfortable Halo universe behind, with larger battles, new abilities, and even venturing out into that eerie emptiness with spaceship battles.

The game really just felt like the complete package, and honestly, the best designed game from the Bungie team. From here, the reins would be handed back to Microsoft, and their 343 Studio, to run with a new Master Chief trilogy.

<– Yesterday – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Tomorrow – RAGE –>