Colin McRae DiRT demo review

Mikey 24 comments
Colin McRae DiRT demo review

My faith in rally games has been restored. The Colin McRae series of said genre quickly became stale with no less than five versions to grace our PC's and consoles over the years. There was little innovation and the game engine always seemed to be a generation behind other rally contenders, such as Richard Burns Rally.

But when the first screenshots for Colin McRae DiRT appeared not too long ago, I was somewhat sceptic about their authenticity. It wouldn't have been the first time a game company doctored their screenshots to make the game appear better than what it actually is.

That scepticism was still with me even as I installed the demo yesterday, but as soon as I launched into a game, all doubts went away.

DiRT is without a doubt the best looking rally game (or car game in general) to grace the PC - ever. The eye candy is not without a catch however, as my frame rate would testify if it could speak. That is partially my fault though for trying to run the game on my native resolution of 1680x1050 with all game details set to Ultra.

On those settings I managed an embarrassing 5 frames per second. So with the game engine setting set to something a little more realistic (same resolution, but details set to High and no anti-aliasing) DiRT became much more playable. Curiously though, reducing the resolution further did not result in a significant frame rate improvement.

For those playing at home, my modest specs are:

  • AMD64 3700+
  • 2gb DDR
  • GeForce 7900 with latest drivers
  • 22" Viewsonic 5ms
  • Abit KN8 Ultra Motherboard
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 32 bit

Motion blurring adds a nice touch to an already impressive level of detail, as does High Dynamic Range Lighting. A consistent bloom effect however sometimes makes it hard to see some details, which is the last thing you need when pummelling down a narrow rocky road at 200kms per hour while approaching a hairpin.

But as a wise man once said, 'Graphics to not maketh the game', and at the heart of DiRT is nothing more than another rally experience. But that's not so bad.

The physics are very impressive, with debris flying left right and centre and tyres becoming airborne upon impact. You can damage and dent the side barriers while losing parts of your vehicle in the process. If you are noob like me you will probably cross the finish line in nothing more than a chassis on wheels.

Controlling either of the 3 available vehicles their respective tracks (tarmac, sand or dirt) felt a little unresponsive on my analogue Logitech Dual Action game pad. No amount of tweaking the control settings was able to remedy this. But this is a demo and things might improve upon final release.

As far as demos go, Colin McRae DiRT is very impressive, but hardcore rally fans will probably find nothing new here from a game play perspective.

If car games and are your thing and you want to see what next generation graphics can do for your favourite genre, the Colin McRae DiRT demo is available for download now from all good game web sites.

Click on any image for full res versions.


Some actual in-game video I took. as well.

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Friday 1st June 2007 | 04:52 AM

No split-screen, TOOOOO much hardware demanding,
X2 4600+, 2GB DDR800MHZ, 8800GTS 320MB, everything on max at 1024x768, FPS from 15 to 40!!!!!!!

Even people with quad cores have similiar FPS, THIS IS FUCKED UP REALLY HARD CODEMASTERS!!!!!!!

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Friday 1st June 2007 | 07:52 AM

Have to agree with you there. I was a little disappointed with the performance. On your system I would have expected much better. Hopefully Codemasters will do some engine optimisations before final release.

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Wednesday 6th June 2007 | 01:53 AM

whoa..... after reading that review and the comments if thoses PC systems can't handle it on max, i might as well just go buy a xbox360 since my laptop with a crappy 7800gtx ain't gonna be able to handle it.

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Friday 8th June 2007 | 08:16 AM

I agree with Armitage - get a 360 otherwise spend more on upgrading the pc.

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Sunday 10th June 2007 | 03:57 AM

wont even run on my pc and its a pretty decent machine, core 2 chip @3.6 heavly overclocked 8800gts 640mb

all I get is the game running in a black windows taking up a 1/4 of my monitor, I can hear the game is running but get no visulas at all, how crap is that.

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Sunday 10th June 2007 | 09:50 PM

Multi cored systems perform multiple tasks well. Games, which are single threaded, single tasked applications, rarely perform well on multi core systems. Or rather ,they don't perform better (and in fact sometimes will perform marginalyl worse).

Get yourself a dual or quad core system if you like doing lots of things at once. Or if you like it coz it sounds cool. But if you want a games box, don't go buying a quad core and expecting performance - it's not going to happen. Games are not written to take advantage of multicored environments. You may as well buy a top line dual or single core CPU with tonnes of lower level cache for half the price of a quad core... it's going to perform far better.

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Tuesday 12th June 2007 | 04:08 AM

the chip I am talking about is dual core - core 2 chip, and with a clock speed of 3.6 is faster than any single core chip available even on a single threaded game application or anything, as you say most games are not multi threaded but you still do get a small gain on a dual core chip even on them games so I would like to see where you get the idea that a single core cpu can be faster with the same clock speeds at anything??.

As for the game it is just buggy as hell, as on my other hard drive with vista ultimate edition the game runs just fine.

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Tuesday 12th June 2007 | 09:41 AM

Sure, if the clock of the single core of a dual core unit is faster, it's going to perform better. But when the two chips are comparable, the single core can perform *some* operations faster, generally highly dedicated processes. This is probably more to do with the architecture of the software and operating systems, than the chip design.

These days, though, it's very hard to find single core chips with decent clock speeds, as they're really being phased out. None the less, more cores will not provide more speed, unless explicitly coded for.

There's a good article on it here, which shows that addding an extra core offers negligable increases in performance:

Of course, that said, I'd rather a quad core any day, but that's just coz I want to see 4 CPU graphs in my task manager :-p

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Tuesday 12th June 2007 | 10:20 AM

Some games with dual core support:

  • Age of Empires III

  • Black and White 2

  • Call of Duty 2

  • City of Villains by NCSoft

  • Doom3 by IDsoftware

  • F.E.A.R.

  • Peter Jackson's King Kong

  • Prey 1.2 and 1.3 by Take2

  • Quake 4 by IDsoftware

  • Quake 5 (promised when released)

  • Serious Sam 2 by Croteam

  • Splinter Cell by Tom Clancy

  • Supreme Commander by Gas Powered Games Corp.

  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

  • The Movies

  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter

  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3

  • Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

  • Unreal Engine 3

  • Vangauard Saga of Heros

  • World of Warcraft

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Friday 15th June 2007 | 02:18 PM

The game is showing a black screen but is running just fine. THis is because of the video preview. CHeck your video codec. Remove any third party shitty codec pack you may installed and get something like CCCP to watch your video without loading shitty stuff. The game is working just fine but their choice of video codec is poor.

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Friday 15th June 2007 | 02:25 PM

Wouldn't the demo have included the codec?

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Saturday 16th June 2007 | 02:42 AM

The games do include codec if they your one that is usually not present in windows however most people do install codec paks like Klite, CCCP etc to help them play most types of videos and sometime such paks will break a previous working codec. I had plenty of issues with the system where I do get problem with games showing black screen on startup because of codec the video is using is not working on my encoding machines as I often update to newer encoding and decoding codec but I have tools to help remove, repair different codec and usually only load those I need. If you can hear the sound but get black screen that usually is broken codec problem.

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Saturday 16th June 2007 | 09:50 AM

That's something I have never been clear on that when I install a game that has video with special codec, will it overwrite my crappy codec I would think it did. I can understand why the video would be black if I installed a codec pack after i installed the game. I had same issue with a half life 2 mod.

Does anyone know the name of the song in the video in this article?

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Saturday 16th June 2007 | 02:13 PM

Ginga says: "Does anyone know the name of the song in the video in this article?"

It's called 'Peaceful and Quiet' from an album called 'Interference' by 'Europa', a moniker I went by way back when I still had time to create music.">Download it if you want. Feel free to spread.

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Tuesday 19th June 2007 | 06:02 AM

Counter strike source is not a dual core supported game, a single core athlon fx57 at 3.0ghz and a dual core fx60 at 3.0ghz the fx60 will give you an extra 20 fps in the stress test with the same setup and same settings, css is a very cpu dependant game but only optimised for single core processors yet dual core still proves to be faster clock for clock.

Helper -
I tried removing the Klite codec pack I had installed still doing the same thing but thanks anyway :-))

Is strange that the game works on Vista for me but not XP Pro :-S

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Wednesday 20th June 2007 | 02:23 AM

Very good thanks Michael downloading it now. Is that a once-off or have u written more music?

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Wednesday 4th July 2007 | 11:48 AM

Michael say: It's called 'Peaceful and Quiet' from an album called 'Interference' by 'Europa', a moniker I went by way back when I still had time to create music. Download it if you want. Feel free to spread.

Man where can i get the album, that song is really good

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Wednesday 4th July 2007 | 12:23 PM

You know if this encouragement keeps up I might just make the whole thing available for download :-)

Stay tuned.

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Friday 20th July 2007 | 11:41 PM

anybody know the name of the music used in the actual in-game menu song?

its bumpin!

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Tuesday 31st July 2007 | 01:37 PM


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Dirt recorder

Wednesday 26th December 2007 | 03:59 PM

Yeah the title screen is real nice nice that I recorded it with a sound rec software running in the background with all other sounds set to zero. btw thanks Diehard for the wonderful europa track :)

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Sunday 10th February 2008 | 03:51 AM


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Monday 11th February 2008 | 12:57 PM

what is mer30? is it the name of the demo menu screen song? Is this song even availabe for download anywhere?

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Tuesday 19th October 2010 | 08:38 AM

Looks good, can't play because of black screen.

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