Updated on February 4, 2017: It’s a shame DiRT 3 has been discontinued and is impossible to purchase. On the bright side, Feral Interactive did release DiRT Rally, a superior game in every way.
If there’s one universal truth we can all agree on, it is that Codemasters knows how to make good racing games. They are the ones behind games such as F1 2013 or Grid 2.
DiRT 3 for Mac is another example in a long line of great games. Released back in 2011, the game was very well received on consoles and Windows, scoring an impressive 86 Metascore. Ported to MacOS four years later by Feral Interactive, the game certainly feels like it came “too late to the party“, but is still as fun as some of the top racing games on Mac.
Enter Dirt 3
DiRT 3 is the immediate successor to Colin McRae: DiRT 2, which was an accomplishment by itself. However, the newer release makes DiRT 2 feel almost juvenile. For starters, DiRT 3 drops the Colin McRae moniker and surprisingly brings back the old rally stages. That was a glaring omission and I’m glad to see it back for good.
Other than that, the menu interface is so much better than before. But then it would be because those seemed like they were designed by Ken Block. When he was 5. The amount of in-your-face sponsorship drivel got annoying very quickly. Thankfully, the menus are much better this time around. They revolve around triangles that unfold and light-up as you progress through the career mode. The slick menu is only spoilt by a mini cut scene of a car sliding across the scenes every time you navigate between the menu screens. It takes barely a few seconds, but it does get quite tiring.
You can see it running beautifully on a low-powered MacBook Air:
With multiple game modes, single-player, multiplayer and career mode on offer, Dirt 3 appears to cover all of the basics. However, there is a massive elephant in the room, or rather a lack thereof. The multiplayer mode on the Mac App Store version is limited to split screen and local multiplayer. There is no online multiplayer. Do keep in mind that the Steam version of the game will include online cross-platform Multiplayer. That means you will be able to race against the entire PC user base! If you care about Multiplayer, you probably want the Steam version.
Update 1: Multiplayer will be included in the Steam version of the game. This change is now reflected throughout the review.
Another strange omission is the ability to upload replay clips to Youtube to show off bits of driving skill, or spectacular crashes. This is even more obvious when the in-game voice urges you to upload the replays to Youtube.
Update 2: Feral Interactive confirmed that the YouTube upload is not available on any platform. The feature broke a few years ago due to server changes.
The career mode though, is a gem. You start off as a professional driver and you have several sponsors and teams vying for you to drive cars with their respective livery. So from the get-go, almost all cars are unlocked. This does take away from the game, as you aren’t really driving to unlock better cars, or tracks. Strangely, different cars earn different amount of experience points, which in turn gets more sponsors vying for you to drive their cars.
Driving well does unlock more events, so in order to progress through the game, you have to give it your best. A couple of strange voices help you through your career, giving you advice about your setup and driving style before each race. The only annoying bit is the loading times before each race. You have to wait for what seems like ages, as you listen to some surprisingly good menu music, and stare at different views of the car you’ll be driving.
But once you get to the driving bit, you’re in for a treat. The cars handle beautifully on some incredibly beautiful and detailed tracks. The tried and trusted EGO engine is simply sublime. Every one of the 62 cars you can choose from feels uniquely different and reacts differently to your inputs.
The handling is tuned more for fun and easy playability rather than pure simulation, but it will still satisfy the purists to a large extent. There are 6 tuning settings available to mess around with, and those can have a major impact on the outcome of a race. The cars are detailed, and the damage simulation is pretty accurate. In the replays, you can see individual panels getting bent out of shape and flying off the car.
The competition is fierce, and it is a challenging game. Along with the rally stages, you also participate in rallycross events. These are especially entertaining, as it is a combination of rally and bumper to bumper racing. These are tricky skill-based events, where you drive in concrete car parks, drift around cones and around inflatable tubes. These aren’t easy, but it is rewarding when you do get it right. Also, it’s a great way to hone your skills, and apply them to rallycross and rally events.
Dirt 3 retains one key feature lacking in Grid 2, the cockpit view. This is even more spectacular if you’re driving behind someone. You’re blinded by the kicked up dust, and hence you find yourself driving near blind. It adds that bit of danger and realism to the gameplay experience. Your co-pilots give precise instructions and can be patronizing if you do manage to hit something or crash.
The low grip driving means that you will find yourself drifting from corner to corner, which is immense fun. The number of assists available on hand makes it easier for even the most butterfingered drivers to get to grips with the game. As you get a hang of how to drive, you can turn all the assists off, slowly.
Dirt 3 Performance
My MacBook Pro 13”:
- OS: OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks
- Processor: Intel i7 2.9 Ghz
- Graphics Card: Intel HD 4000
- RAM: 8 GB
- OS: OS X 10.9.5
- Processor: 2.0 GHz Intel
- RAM: 4GB
- Hard Disk: 15GB
- Graphics: 256MB
The minimum system requirements are relatively quite low, and this means that DiRT 3 runs very smoothly. With all settings on medium, I achieved around 22 fps, and it ran pretty smoothly with my configuration. If you turn everything down, it runs even faster. Besides these points, the games run very smoothly, and consistently so. It makes the port of DiRT 2 look cantankerous.
Codemasters has yet again produced another great racing game. It’s a more grown-up version of its predecessor, DiRT 2. The good old rally stages are back, and the introduction of gymkhana is a welcome one. The EGO engine once again proves to be one of the best racing game engines in the business. DiRT 3 is a well-finished game which has been ported smoothly to MacOS, courtesy of Feral Interactive.
The only niggles are the lack of multiplayer on the Mac App Store version, and the omission of some in-game features. It is a superb game, which is guaranteed to provide thrills for many many hours.