DiRT 3 Multiplayer Hands-On Preview – Zombie Nation
Written Saturday, April 30, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Multiplayer in DiRT has never really captured us if we’re being honest. Racing against ghosts in DiRT 1 wasn’t really what we were after from the franchise, and although DiRT 2 took it from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the class with a good mix of modes, it didn’t really have the staying power we were hoping for. DiRT 3 though is set to change that with a variety of rally-esque party games and after going hands-on with them recently, we’re completely and utterly sold on them.
As you’re acutely aware, the inclusion of the new gymkhana stuff in DiRT 3 has opened up the doors for more concentrated party games in its multiplayer arena. In these party games, you’ll often find yourself racing around Battersea’s gymkhana playground and other levels like the shipping crate laden depot level doing various objectives in a bid to one-up everyone else. While Battersea’s gymkhana playground encourages players to race through its carefully placed pipes that are embedded in the ground, whilst navigating jumps and/or avoiding the map’s many dirt mounds, the depot level will have you racing in and out of shipping crates, fighting sharp bends and narrow passages and racing through warehouses and avoiding the pesky water at the end of the dock.
The first – and most publicised – multiplayer mode is surely going to be its Outbreak mode, which is essentially a zombie infection mode. No, that does not mean that you’ll be ploughing through zombies in a bid to run over more than your opponents, don’t be stupid… although, that would be pretty cool. The ‘Outbreak’ mode actually has the originally – and randomly – selected infected car chasing everyone else around the map in a bit to infect them and spread the infection. It’s bumpers cars on speed in a much bigger environment. Get hit and contract the virus – which is indicated by a green tinted screen – and you simply have to chase down the remaining uninfected folk in a bid to infect everyone and earn points for doing so.
The second – and possibly most bizarre in terms of concept – is its ‘Transporter’ mode, which has you saving the world from invading robots. Sure, it sounds like it’d be more at place in a Terminator game, but as a racing mode, it’s pretty fun and fairly original. While the concept is bizarre, the mode itself is pretty simple. It’s a points based mode which essentially has players racing around small contained levels – we went hands-on in a gymkhana arena at Battersea for instance – trying to knock down robot shaped cardboard cut-outs to gain points while avoiding skyscraper shaped cut-outs which lose you points. Pipping other cars to those valuable robot cut-outs and watching 3 or 4 cars scrap it out for one point is definitely the mode’s highlight and it’s one mode that can become manic in a instant.
The addictive mode for us though is quite simply the game’s third mode, its ‘Invasion’ mode, which despite its name, is actually DiRT 3’s version of the popular capture the flag mode. Like every version of the game mode, the objective is simple, chase down the flag that gets dropped on the map in random pick-up areas, pick it up and then drive to a home circle to score. “Wait… what!? How is capture the flag with cars addictive and how does it even work!?” Well inner psyche, I’m glad you asked. The fact that the flag can be transferred by bumping into the person carrying the flag meant that on more than one occasion, we found ourselves in the middle of an 8 car pile-up, attempting to battle our way out while keeping hold of the flag. It’s frenzied, intense and even a little frustrating, but if you make it out with the flag, it’s pure gaming bliss. It didn’t take long on the depot level either before players were taking ramps to gain higher ground to either get away with the flag and make a jump for the scoring zone or prowling on there waiting for the right time to pounce. For us though, the depot level’s tight corridors and passageways made the mode that much more tense and exhilarating, and the beauty of the mode is that it’s often more about strategy than driving skill. We’re predicting this’ll be a hit with DiRT fans and may even win over a few more racing fans who are knee deep in other racing franchises.
In a period where racing games were getting a little predictable with their online modes, with very few franchises taking risks, DiRT 3’s new angle is supremely refreshing. Both original and fun – and even fitting in with the franchise and what it’s trying to offer this time around – the three modes that Codemasters have thrown into the mix may not replace the traditional modes that DiRT will ship with, but they’ll add to create a much more robust package. With a short completion time as well – from start to finish – they’re perfect for gamers who are looking to drop in and kill 10 minutes and do so in style. Battling zombies, robots and chasing a piece of cotton has never been so much fun.
DiRT 3 is scheduled for a May 24th worldwide launch.