DiRT Showdown PC Technical Review



Product: DiRT Showdown PC
Company: Codemasters
Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: June 15th, 2012

Controls, extra features, DRM, conclusion

Controls

DiRT Showdown supports keyboard controls, but not mice whatsoever. That is to say, a mouse won't work in menus, which can be frustrating. The keyboard setup is, as usual, built around the arrow keys for movement. The quick in-game tutorial makes it intuitive enough to learn, but it feels like learning an entirely new device if you haven't done this much or at all before. Just once I'd love a PC racer built around WASD and the mouse, and preferably with different preset configurations.

Assuming you're not more stubborn than I am, you're thinking about a controller or racing wheel now, or already have one. The Xbox 360 controller worked just fine in my testing via plug and play; I can't speak for other controllers, though likely you can set them up easily with an in-game configurator as with previous Codemasters titles. Racing wheels are also supported, though I didn't have one to test.

Whatever your setup, you can configure as you like. Steering wheel users should know there are seven percentage-based options for them. You'll also find a couple for vibration.

Extra features

AMD power users are in for more treats: Showdown supports HD3D using the company's Quad-Buffer API (so you'll see frames rendered for each eye), Eyefinity for those of you with lots of desk space, and Crossfire for those with big towers and lots of Benjamins.

If you are a Crossfire and Eyefinity user, AMD claims nearly 50fps at 2560x1600 on Ultra with two 7950s, and nearly 60 with two 7970s at the same settings. If you don't mind bumping that down to High, even those with a 6990, 7970, or 7950 should be able to get quite playable results. HD3D support I can't speak for, but as with other 3D titles, it's surely expensive.

In the not so technical department, DiRT features a service called Racenet. I know this because it bugged me about it every time I booted the game until I signed up on the website, at which point I was granted in-game cash and an account for tracking stats and such. After researching briefly, it seems like a poorly designed Battlelog (for those that play Battlefield 3), in that the site is chaotic and obnoxious and not all that useful or interesting.

If you like, you can link your account here to Steam, YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook. There is YouTube integration with in-game replays, though for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to upload anything.

While the multiplayer isn't exactly popping, local split screen multiplayer is offered, and worked smoothly with my controller and keyboard. It is split horizontally, for those concerned.

DRM

If you've been annoyed with Codemasters going the Games for Windows LIVE route with all of its recent titles, you may be pleased to learn they've gone with Steamworks this time. While still somewhat intrusive, and requiring online activation, it's miles better integrated and more useful than GFWL, so there's a plus.

Conclusion

Some relatively minor flaws regarding controls and Racenet plus the lacking multiplayer community aside, DiRT Showdown proves another fine technical achievement for Codemasters, and a boon for PC enthusiasts as well as budget owners, each with a love for racers.