In this week’s Red Bull Gaming Blog, Glen Ferris twists some metal with DiRT Showdown and gets a taste of warfare yet to come with Ghost Recon: Future Soldier…
DiRT Showdown - Review
Before serious rally fans get their pants in a knot over Codemasters Racing’s latest release, we should emphasise that this is most assuredly not DiRT 4 - hell, it’s not even the same sport. Nope, like the most successful spin-offs, DiRT Showdown draws a line in the sand, drives over it and then goes back and pulls a couple of donuts.
In chucking out the usual DiRT format and embracing a metal-mashing, demolition derby-style set of challenges, the savvy chaps at Codemasters are widening their potential player audience beyond the gaze of rallying aficionados. So, instead of having to master tight corners on rugged terrain, you now have to survive a Mad Max-esque onslaught in a variety of game modes – less skill, more slam then but no less fun for the shift in focus.
DiRT Showdown simplifies the handling from its sister titles and even chucks in a nitro boost to give you a leg up while actively encouraging you to shunt, PIT and bully your way up the leaderboard. It may be lacking in nuance but such is Codemasters’ skill at producing this sort of thing that you won't really care about the ejection of realism.
The single-player mode is fine on its own but it’s with friends that this game really comes alive. Multiplayer – both online and split screen – is a hoot as you attempt to outdrive or simply smash to smithereens your nearest and dearest.
Loaded with enough diversions to keep you on your toes and just the right learning curve camber to ensure the challenges are never too easy, Showdown may not win over the DiRT faithful but you’ll have to go far to find a racer as entertaining and rewarding as this.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – Review
Near-future shooters appear to be all the rage this year. Medal Of Honor: Warfighter and Call Of Duty: Black Ops II will be battling it out for your bucks later closer to Christmas but the latest Tom Clancy title has got there first - and it's really raising the bar.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier hangs its plot on a Ghost team tasked with hopping the globe and tracking down the makers of a dirty bomb, but the storyline is very much secondary to the cool technology on offer.
Based on existing scientific advances, the awesome equipment ranges from optical camouflage (which renders you virtually invisible to enemies) to remote controlled drones (useful for scouting ahead) to various types of low-visability goggles and an entire armoury of futuristic weaponry.
With all these gadgets at your disposal (not to mention the incredible rocket-loaded Warhound), you would expect your missions to be a doddle. Not so. You see, while guns and killer robots are handy to have on your side, teamwork and stealth are still of paramount importance.
While the camo and drones are useful, get too close to the enemy and you’ll be spotted. Same goes for taking a shot at the first bad guy you see, do that and you'll alert all his buddies. You’ve got to plan out your attacks here and take advantage of every team member - hence the addition of the Synch Shot, a system that allows you to set up targets for your squad to take down simultaneously.
As you’d expect from a game that demands excellent teamwork, the four-player co-operative modes are ace. Both the main story campaign and the alternative horde-style Guerrilla mode are incredibly rewarding, while the Synch Shot innovation makes for some supremely satisfying moments.
As for the other options on offer, there’s an embarrassment of riches. Various online modes and loads of tweakable options vie for your attention but it’s the much-feted Gunsmith option (in which Kinect users can customise weaponry, Minority Report-style) that’s the most fun to tinker with.
Graphically it’s no great shakes but this is a brilliantly thought-out and well-executed shooter. The third-person viewpoint may put off those weaned on COD and MOH, but if it’s diversity and tactics rather than gung-ho bombast that you’re after then this is the game for you.