The original Dirt was a hit across the board, which naturally means that Codemasters is hard at work on a sequel. Known quite simply as Dirt 2, this follow-up was unveiled by the English publisher at a press event last night in San Francisco.
During the presentation, the big theme that Codemasters was hammering on for this sequel was the idea of off-road racing with an extreme sports attitude. What does that mean, exactly?
The first game featured voice-over work by motocross legend Travis Pastrana, but this time around Codemasters is looking to go full tilt with the game's presentation.
A teaser video revealed a scene from the player's RV, the hub where you control all your career mode exploits, and it was a raucous collection of grime, half-naked women, and general insanity. That should serve as a good hint of what the overall attitude will be.
But of course, this is still a racing game, and gussying up the user interface will take you only so far. Thankfully, Codemasters revealed some intriguing information about the type of racing you'll be doing this time around. The biggest chunk of information they let out is the inclusion of stadium rally events.
They showed a gameplay video of a fictional stadium built around London's Battersea Power Station, with all manner of twisty dirt roads, puddles, and smoke stacks making up a very gritty and industrial-looking setting. Another similarly fictional stadium they mentioned is one set in Los Angeles for an event they're calling the Stadium King Shootout.
Apparently, they've done work to the engine to make these stadium events feel quite massive, with crowd sizes going from 40,000 in Grid (a Codemasters racing game using the same engine released last year) to 120,000 in Dirt 2.
However, it's not just the number of fans watching you peel out and smash your front end that has been tweaked. A tech video shown during the presentation revealed some other enhancements to the game's engine. The biggie is probably advanced water physics: the game will be going beyond the rain-slick roads in the first game to include puddles that appear to be at least a foot deep.
This new type of hazard ought to severely impact your driving ability and add a new dimension to the way you'll be racing around the course, because no longer will the optimal line around a corner always be the best one to take if it happens to bring you through a miniature lake.
In terms of locations, you can expect to see races held in London and Los Angeles, as previously mentioned, but also in some less expected spots, including Croatia, China, and Malaysia. Those Asian locales should come as quite a departure from the European-heavy settings in the first game.
Another welcome departure is in multiplayer mode: you will now be able to take part in online matches against other drivers in real time. If that doesn't get you excited, you're probably not familiar with the first game's solitary, time-trial multiplayer, which felt like little more than a mean prank in the context of the great game built around it.
We'd love to have seen more on Dirt 2 than the few brief videos shown during this presentation, because what we did see looks promising. You can expect more coverage leading up to the game's release, which is currently slotted for late September.
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