Dirt 2 is another great racing title from Firebrand Games.
Usually when a handheld version of a game is released simultaneously with its console counterpart, most people’s eyes are on the graphically superior console version. With this in mind, does Dirt 2 for the Nintendo DS deserve to be overlooked, or should it be acknowledged just as much as its console counterpart?
Firebrand Games, the studio behind other Nintendo DS racing games such as TrackMania, Grid, and Race Driver: Create and Race, return to the Nintendo DS for another take on the racing genre. Since their first title on the system, these racing games have evolved and vastly improved, as seen with last year’s GRID. With Dirt 2, the final result is a great and enjoyable racing title, despite it feeling a little lacking compared to some of the other games.
Upon starting the game, it is quite evident that Dirt 2 is an arcade-inspired title. Players will find themselves jumping all over the globe and racing in places such as Mexico and Ethiopia in one of three difficulty levels. The game boasts quite a diverse array of tracks, as well, with everything from a desert-themed location to a chilly, arctic track.
One great thing about Dirt 2 is that the pacing is spot-on. Not only are the menus simple and easy to navigate, but loading times are almost nonexistent. Thanks to this smooth presentation, players will find themselves spending much more time on the track than they will find themselves speeding through menus, and as a result, Dirt 2 is among the best pick-up-and-play racers on the Nintendo DS.
The main single-player mode allows players to jump into a vehicle and race on a variety of tracks, while at the same time collecting money and points to unlock new tracks and upgrades for their cars. The game doesn’t have much of a career feel to it outside of unlocking new races and earning money, but the eight or so hours you’ll spend playing certainly proves to be a fun experience.
One of the best things about Dirt 2 is the ability to upgrade and unlock cars. By doing this, not only are you improving the ability of your vehicles for future competition, but you can also go back and revisit older stages to smash your old high scores. For those who are just interested in unlocking everything, Dirt 2 will keep you sticking around for many hours after completing the main game.
Besides the ability to customize vehicles, Dirt 2 also has an expansive, full-on 3D track designer that allows for players to use the pieces collected from the career mode to design their very own courses. It is a little disappointing that these custom tracks don’t have nearly as much detail or beauty as the pre-made ones, but the ability to share a level with a nearby friend via local wireless is certainly a huge plus.
Speaking of friends, Dirt 2 lacks one major feature: online multiplayer. Some of the developer’s past Nintendo DS titles have supported online racing, but the feature is not included in Dirt 2. Both single-card and multi-card multi-player are present in the game, but nothing can compare to competing against other drivers from around the world. Would it really have been too much trouble to keep some sort of online feature, whether it’s the ability to download tracks that other users have created or just race against friends?
Dirt 2 is by no means a bad game, but when compared to other games on the platform – more specifically from Firebrand themselves – it feels a little stale. While it has licensed vehicles and a stronger visual appeal, it lacks online play and a solid career mode. Regardless, Dirt 2 is a great addition to the Nintendo DS library.