It is clear from the moment that DiRT Showdown loads: you are meant to speed, trick and crash your way to the top in multiplayer mode. The intro movie gives you a gentle push to head on over to Twitter to tell your friends all about this rad new game. On top of that, it asks if want to link your YouTube account and asks you to register for the Autolog-esque Racenet right after you activate your online pass. If you forego any of the above steps then you should probably brace yourself for a world of pop-ups meant to weaken your resolve until you finally give in and go social.
First Off: Connect Online
This game begs you to be online, and once you have gotten the connectivity features sorted out, learning the ropes will be no trouble at all. Are you into the Hoonigan car, Subaru Impreza WRX STI GD? Or maybe you're prefer the lightning fast Logan Vulture? It doesn't even matter what car you choose, accessible controls mean you'll get used to the handling in a jiffy. If that's not enough to keep you comfy behind the wheel of your dream ride, pausing the game will give you an option to view valuable information about the current event. Heck, even the peppy announcer is determined to keep you updated on the details.
While there are enough cars to keep things interesting, it's not quite Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Considering all that, the area where DiRT Showdown shines in the variety of events available. Where else can you gloat as much as when you've obliterated your rivals in Domination -- an event in which tracks are divided into four sectors and winners are chosen by the number of points racked up. Hoonigan Smash Hunter on the other hand, pits you against an army of colored foam bricks. You will need to smash through these in a specific order. Fail to do that and you'll need to back track and crash through the correct ones.
Playing for Solo or Playing With More
If you're a bit of a loner, then Joyride may just be the division for you. This Hoonigan mode will require you to perform all kinds of tricks and stunts across either Yokohama Docks or Battersea Power Station. There is no time limit and you are given an infinite number of respawns. Completing the single-player mode means finishing fifty missions (with seventy-five packages hidden in each environment).
As its name implies, the Demolition division is perfect for anyone who is looking for some turbo-charged destruction. Because it rewards those who can perform the most damaging crashes and impacts, you will need to channel the Hulk if you're set in winning Rampage mode. Knockout tasks you to shove rivals off a platform, much like a ring out. 8 Ball takes the bad-aid off by having no respawns and as many T-bones and high-speed smashes as you can handle. Lastly, Hard Target makes you the star by pitting you against a plethora of crash-happy cars. All in all, there are fourteen event types divided across five divisions: Race, Hoonigan, Demolition, Joyride and Party, the game's online mode.
All of these are, of course, made even more fun when they are played online. Real-life opponents mean you can't restart all you want. You will need to nail each turn and keep every donut accurate. Team-based challenges keep things from going stale too, giving you the ability to assist your party or go on the offensive against your opponents. If you have actual friends though, you may want to go for the game's local, split-screen multiplayer. With the advent of reliable internet connections, the latter is a rarity in general and one we are glad to see.
A Few Letdowns
As far as merry mayhem goes, DiRT Showdown has a lot to offer. But, with great fun comes a handful of annoyances. The yawn-worthy loading screens for instance, are a result of all the stunning details made possible by the game's EGO Engine. The impact of its sweet tunes is dampened by the incessant stream of cheesy commentary (sorry Christian Stevenson, "awesometacular" is not a word). Repetition is also unavoidable with only a few tracks to learn.
Mostly for Show
In conclusion, DiRT Showdown puts its best foot forward off the bat. You need only to load the game to see every ace played and that's priceless for those who want it all, yesterday. Racing fans who are after a more authentic car driving experience may want to steer clear of this title but those who just want to put their feet up and make the Eulogy perform graceful pirouettes will not be disappointed.