Dirt 3 [X360, PS3, PC]
As triple-A racing games -- the Gran Turismos and Forzas of the world --
get ever bigger and more ambitious, life gets harder for nichey racers like
Codemasters' Dirt series (previously known as 'Colin McRae's Racing'.)
Fortunately, this week's release of the latest Dirt game demonstrates
the team behind this legendary off-road racer franchise is more than up to the
challenge. There wasn't much wrong with 2009's fantastic Dirt 2 -- but the clear consensus is that Dirt 3 goes one better.
What more can the team do with rally-themed racing that hasn't already
been done in the game's 13-year history? Plenty, according to Joystiq's
"More cars, more tracks, more locations...a slew of new modes in both single and multiplayer...four racing seasons...100+ different tracks, in locations as disparate as Kenya, Lake Michigan and Norway," he says.
"Don't expect to get bored any time soon."
Cocke's obviously impressed, handing out a decidedly podium-quality 4.5/5 score, and saying Dirt 3 "has the capability to convert people who aren't particularly interested in rally racing to addicts...it would seem that Codemasters' love for the sport is infectious."
Gamespot also awarded Dirt 3 top marks -- a healthy 9.0 -- finding little to criticize beyond some limitations in the game's Youtube upload functionality: "a small blemish in an otherwise superb game," according to writer Justin Calvert. "Whether you're a veteran of the Dirt series and the long-running Colin McRae Rally series that preceded it, or someone looking for a way into off-road racing," he concludes, "Dirt 3 is the game you should be playing."
IGN is a hair more lukewarm than most other outlets, scoring it an 8.5 in its review while citing some gripes with the voiceovers ("bland...ultimately forgettable") and odd choices in the car progression system. But there's praise aplenty for the scope of the game, and writer Peter Eykemans is clearly impressed with the visuals and audio. "Solid gameplay, variety of tracks and events, and overall fun factor make this a terrific game," is his closer.
Averaging an excellent 89% over at Metacritic, Dirt 3 is pulling out a comfortable lead on March's Shift 2: Unleashed, making it a serious contender for the year's best racer. At least for now. Gearheads might be focusing most of their attention on Microsoft's next Forza game (due
this fall), but until then there's a thrilling, content-packed ride waiting for
them in Dirt 3.
Spirit Seasons: Little Ghost Story [Y!]
So there's this spooky mansion. And it's home to two ghosts: an aged butler named Jacob, and a young lady named Agatha. Each has their own version of how they ended up in their current predicament, and each maintains the other is lying about it. Guess who has to sort out the mess? Yup, it's you, and you'll do it by finding a whole bunch of hidden objects.
Dead or Alive: Dimensions [3DS]
The debut appearance of the Dead or Alive fighter series on Nintendo
platforms, Dimensions is a 3DS-only affair...meaning the notorious, uh,
"assets" of the game's various stars will be "in your face" in a way
in which prior DOA games could only dream. (Yes, even the bikini-tastic,
critically-panned beach volleyball spin-offs.) If that's your bag, you're in
luck, and if not, you're probably still in luck, because the Dead or Alive
games can generally be relied on for a good bout or two of fisticuffs. Bikini
Rescue Team [Y!]
It's been a good year for natural disasters. A bad year for people, but
a good year for disasters. Rescue Team will let you tackle a series of
storm-ravaged islands, rescuing swimmers, extinguishing fires, and removing debris as you test your crisis-management skills. Can you out-FEMA the pros?
Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerfall [X360]
Despite carrying the D&D name, this isn't a deep, strategic role-playing epic like D&D games of yore. Instead, it's a download-only action-heavy game that doesn't lean too heavily on role-playing traditions, opting instead for a healthy helping of good ol'fashioned skullsplitting. It's co-operative, too, which might put you in mind of Snowblind's excellent series of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance hits. Sadly, early critical impressions aren't the best, to put it mildly...in fact, they'd probably cause a cave-troll to wrinkle its nose in disgust. Looks like it's one to avoid.
Naughty Bear: Gold
Edition [X360, PS3]
Ah, Naughty Bear. With a Metacritic average down in the 40% area, let's
just say its release last June was not one of video gaming's finest hours. All
the same, publisher 505 Games is giving this misbehaving toy another outing, this time with a stack of new content and added extras. Whether or not more Naughty Bear is a nice thing remains to be seen.