I’ve recently been playing a lot of racing games and I’ve got blurred vision to prove it. The mark of a good racing game is one where I have to remind myself to blink. I’ve played through Dirt 2 and got most of my way through Need For Speed Shift in the past couple of weeks.
Dirt 2 is made by Codemasters who is notorious for long load times similar to that of the Mass Effect elevators. However in this installation, their load times drastically improved. I did install it to my hard drive but it was fast even before that. Dirt 2 has you going all around the world driving every kind of offroad vehicle imaginable. All the car controls are smooth and you can feel how much power you’re giving it when you’re sliding through turns. The scenery is pretty as usual and the dirt and mud effects just as pretty. This game is harder on the brakes. That is, you don’t need to worry about the racing line as long as you’re braking at the right time. Other times you don’t need to worry about the brake at all and hope that physics will do its’ job to keep you alive. The game’s more arcade like than simulation which just lets you care less about your car sometimes. The damage a car can take can be unforgiving and you really want your lights to stay working through some of the night rallycross courses. Overall, I really don’t have anything bad to say about the game. Whether playing online or off, it’s a whole lot of fun.
Need for Speed Shift is a whole different animal. Although the series is headed in the right direction, they still need some work on the playability. A lot of the cars like to sway their back ends and it’s hard for a novice driver to keep the cars going straight. It’s one of those games where you have to buy your car, keep it in your garage, and upgrade its’ individual parts if you want to. There is a slight Forza feel to it but the damage is unrealistic. Once you upgrade the car, it can become too powerful and undriveable. This is a good example of trying to make an arcade and simulation game and getting something in between that is just mediocre. Yes, you have to ease the triggers for braking and accelerating but that doesn’t stop your car’s rear end from sliding. Thankfully you can adjust the downforce but that doesn’t help too much. The idea of the single player is to level up by two methods; precision driving or aggressive driving. You get points for clean passes as well as bumping someone and then passing. This makes the online a joke, filled with drivers who would rather take you out than drive on the road. The upgrading can be pretty enjoyable. You will soon have enough money for any car but the limited garage spaces (which can only be unlocked through leveling up) keep your car buying frenzy in check. The game is $40 now and at this point it’s at most a rental because Forza 3 is coming out in late October.