To the smerk of rally fans, the "Dirt" series races back to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 platforms. Known for its polished and adrenaline fuelled gameplay, racing fans start your engines; its time for a showdown.

'Dirt Showdown' thumps in with its routine “showoff” attitude that has slowly become its staple. Dirt, which once had a "simulation frame of mind", has become just another flashy “car game” to add to the list. However, a little flash isn't necessarily a game-breaking flat, because what really matters is what's under the hood - and for the most part 'Dirt Showdown' can go. Now a solid “alternative” racing game, Codemasters moves even further away from "rally" racing, trading it in for a bumper-smashing demolition game. Yes, I can hear the sighs coming from the "hardcore" fanbase, and I agree. Another new direction, pulling the series even further from its core - bah! In some ways it's truly a horror, but for those who never quite “got” the whole rally deal, this “reboot-of-sorts" might be more appealing.

Bypassing my opinion on the loss of tradition, 'Dirt Showdown' still has racing, no matter what its form. In this respect Dirt has always been a solid performer, and “Showdown” is no different. The mechanics are tight, and responsive, with enough ease-of-play to get any skill level into the game. While its not perfect (I feel the impacts could have been more predominant) it is rewarding simply to smash into other vehicles. Sure, the racing isn't the focus anymore, but events like 'Knock Out' (“demo-derby” on an elevated platform) make you temporary forget about racing through the countryside. Still you won't feel that much challenge, or at least a challenge like its predecessors. For an added boost of challenge (and fun) heading online is the definite benchmark of skil, and thankfully Dirt is know for its time run integration.


The options begin with the 'Showdown Tour' aka the “meat-and-potatoes” of the game. Basically the career mode. The tour progression covers numerous different locations, race types and vehicles. Decaled up, 'Dirt Showdown' never slows down when it comes to adding the mojo or the intensity of racing. But again, you have to like bulldozing metal-to-metal because there are no race etiquette or corner lines here.

Continuing with the winds of change; the Gymkhana mode that debuted in 'Dirt 3' somewhat makes a return, but now its refurbished as 'Hoonigan'. In three different plays 'Trick Rush,' 'Head to Head' and 'Smash Hunter' you will need to do tricks like donuts, drift and smash to earn points and accelerate through the ranks. Either battling 'Ken Block' or just smashing foam, its a nice to see some form of “Gymkhana” return.

The other modes in “Showdown” consist of 'Joyride.' and two online modes; straight-up 'Multiplayer' and 'Challenges'. Starting with Joyride – here you basically have two options, free-roam in the 'Battersea Compound' or the 'Yokohama Docks'. Hidden packages and trick objectives is the key to enjoying your time joy-riding. It's not a stand-out mode, but it is fun if you're getting sick of running through the pyramid progressing tour, or simply want to home your skills.

Online the events take on a new life when you add “real-life” competitors. Smashing up real people or friends in the same room using the two player split-screen option, makes a world of difference. Highly enjoyable, the online action has enough gusto to keep you locked in for a while. Split in teams, solo destruction, and a flawless integrated system means that you will likely get into some competitive rivalries.

One possible turn-off (aside from major side-swipe in direction) is the audio component. Simply put; it's not going to be for everyone. The musical tracks are diverse, but all share in their upbeat tempos. However, if you're not into dance-club techno or “fist-in-the-air” heavy metal, then you might want to give your own music the spotlight. It's not all bad, and some mainstream acts are included, so take this criticism with a “grain of salt.” Secondly, the announcer seems to have been infected with the 'Ridge Racer' tone of sounding too caffeinated and pompous – really “Dirt”, we don't need this now do we. So unlike the music, which is subjective, most will probably agree that a new announcer is needed.


Codemasters takes a detour from its rally racing core to trade paint demolition style. In theory, everyone loves a good smash-up once in a while, but please leave that for other games. With core rally games disappearing from game shelves, we could always count on Dirt for another lap around the track. Even if things aren't exactly what we wanted, or expected, “Showdown” is still fun and worth a quick look if you miss demolition only games. Now let's get our Dirt back in the garage and racing up mountains in next years edition.

  • smash-up demolition is sadistically fun
  • excellent production, “Showdown” has style
  • the online additions make the experience more enjoyable
  • two player split-screen supported
  • audio can get “under your skin” easily
  • although we get an extra mode - 'Joyride' is forgettable
  • where did our old “Dirt” game go - more rally please
  • needed more diversity
Quote: "Even if things aren't exactly what we wanted, or expected, “Showdown” is still fun and worth a quick look if you miss demolition only games."
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.25.12 | Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360

Similar Games: Colin McRae 04 (7.0) | Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (8.0) | DiRT 3 (8.5) | DiRT 2 (8.8)


DiRT Showdown




US Release
May '12


X360, PS3

Players 1-2
Online MP 2-8
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
FF Wheel
D/L Content