Take It For A Spin Out: Dirt Showdown Demo

Slammed Cleft Auto

It seems that there’s something messy underfoot every step I take at the moment. The latest in a long line of trailers for car smashing lark Dirt Showdown was firmly on my ‘to be ignored’ list, seeing as there have been approximately six trailers released every day since the game was announced, but less filth-ridden nodes of the Hivemind pointed out that this was a demo trailer and as such comes with a demo. And it’s a demo with a race and an online demolition derby event, and none of that gymkhana nonsense, which is surely the vehicular equivalent of synchronised swimming or something equally toxic to my good spirits. I’ve put my mettle to the pedal. Thoughts below.

Upon loading the demo, fireworks assaulted me, the camera panned over a track, stuttering and starting as if Zack Snyder’s over-excited brother was at its helm, and music that made me feel like a teenager blasted out of my speakers. Yes, I was confused, angry and rabidly politically motivated yet hugely ignorant of current affairs.

The perfect mindset for some totally rad awesome CARnage. To the track. The 8-ball race is set in San Francisco, which means you spin around in some dirt near the Golden Gate Bridge. I wonder if a track set in London would involve spinning around in similarly configured mud paths near Big Ben. It’s conceivable.

What this does mean is that the game is even closer to ramshackle veteran Destruction Derby than I’d expected. The actual driving is fairly ponderous, the final lumbering stage of a fun run, as chubby men disguised as anthropomorphic sweat dungeons reel and stagger across the road, colliding and tumbling. Except these cartoon tortoises and hares are vans, buggies and jalopies, scraping, shunting and shattering each other as their paths cross one another or as they attempt to overtake by performing sideswipes and other vicious undertakings.

Apart from the boost mechanic, which I still identify with that series, on the evidence of this demo Showdown has very little in common with Burnout. That game was about the collision as spectacle, a full stop at the end of a 100 mile per hour sentence, whereas Showdown’s collisions are more like a crowd of people shoving each other to get to the front of a queue. It’s the first day of the sales.

Impacts have failed to jar my bones and there’s not enough space to gain a great deal of speed, but there is a certain satisfaction to all that jostling and barging. I nudged an opponent into a spin from behind and cackled as he stalled on a cross-section and was duffed around the course by incoming cars.

I haven’t tried the multiplayer component but the handling is competent, if oddly lightweight, as with the collisions. What it has apparently borrowed from Burnout is DJ Atomica’s irritating cousin who squawks incessantly, referring to the player by a nickname chosen from an extensive list, which obviously includes ‘gnarldog’. I went for ‘omelette’.

The demo is available on Steam now.


  1. hazywaze says:

    Dirt 3 is the only game to regularly lock up my pc, so I’d prefer them to have fixed that. My annoyance at not being able o play Dirt 3 means I will not be buying this game. Anyone else had problems (I’m all patched-up) Core-i5, Radeon 4890) The game runs superbly and then-frozen screen, re-boot.

    • KeyboardGato says:

      actually Dirt 3 runs at full settings on my i7 2600, geforce gtx555 (it exists, look it up).

      but for some reason the demo for Dirt showdown insists that my pc can only handle it at 800×600 windowed at Lowest settings and i have to wear a diaper and be in bed before 8 o’clock

      • evilmatt says:

        I hate the way Codemasters driving games restrict their graphics options based on your hardware. I had to hand-hack a load of XML files so that Grid would let me select a higher resolution than 1280×1024 when I upgraded to a radeon 7950, as the game had no idea what the card was and defaulted back to the lowest restriction settings. Ridiculous.

        And then when I contacted their customer support and let them know about it, I was told “Grid isn’t supported on Windows 7, please go away”…

    • airtekh says:

      I had a few crashes to desktop, which were annoying, but no freezes.

      I actually have the exact same video card as you hazywaze, so you may want to rule that out. Make sure your drivers are up to date if you haven’t already though.

  2. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    That actually sounds kinda neat. Destruction Derby is one of only a few car games I have ever cared for.

    • Jekhar says:

      True, but i feel the trailer looked rather pedestrian. In my failing mind the crashes from the old Flatout games looked better.

      • warthog2k says:

        I have to agree. I was initially quite excited by another Dirt title in the pipeline, but I just don’t see this as anything more than an expansion to Dirt 3.

        Having said that I will definitely be picking it up for a fiver in a few months on a Steam sale…

  3. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    What were Codemasters thinking making this garbage. I predict it will make them rethink PC as a platform for their racing games as each new release is way worse than the last this is a new low even for Codemasters & you have to wonder how on earth they expect savy PC gamers to pay full price when it was originally designed as an XBLA budget title but padded out to be a full release!

    At best this is a Steam Xmas sale item for £3.74 I feel sorry for anyone suckered into buying into this cough cough full game @ full price……….

    • Delusibeta says:

      Considering it’s also full price retail on consoles, I’m not entirely sure what you’re going on about.

    • Phinor says:

      It’s actually not a full price title on PC in Europe. 40€ regular price with pre-order price set at 36€ and 2-pack for 60€. That being said, 40€ is still too much for this. While it might be a competent game, I just don’t feel like it should cost even this much and even though I would probably enjoy some parts of the game, I’m waiting for the price to drop to around 10€ or so.

      In other news, the announcer in the demo was absolutely terrible.

  4. GallonOfAlan says:

    I have never wanted to unleash hot murder on any virtual entity more than that irritating wanker DJ Atomica. Surely not even the most assholish of 13-year-olds could relate to the twat.

  5. Turbobutts says:

    As a long time fan of Destruction Derby and FlatOut I can safely say that DiRT Showdown, at least the demo, is highly underwhelming. There’s not a great deal of speed involved, the crashes feel like throwing piece of cheese at each other, cars handle like they’re on rails and don’t differ much from each other and, if anything, only understeer here and there.
    In its defense I have to say I only tried the single player race because I simply couldn’t unlock multiplayer as it involved sending a challenge to a friend, and none of my Steam friends had the demo. Maybe I was missing out on something because of that, but I suspect it would’ve only been more boredom, only with human opponents for a change.
    Will definitely not buy the game.

    • thorbear says:

      The collision in multiplayer derby also seems broken. The game wrongly detects who did the most damage.

  6. Gunsmith says:

    I’m pleased they’ve dumped GFWL but its a driving game made for non driving gamers. i’ll give it a miss.

  7. Blaaaaaaag says:

    I was really looking forward to this until I played that demo. Here are my thoughts:

    No in-car view, while not a deal breaker, is unfortunate all the same. You get a bumper cam or a helicopter behind your car view. Controls are muddy, vehicles don’t really steer. You can whip the handbrake to get a sharpish initial turn going, but I can’t seem to hold a drift, at least not in that van. I used to own a big ol’ rear-drive van. It could drift. Dunno why this one can’t. After each attempt at that single player race, it for some reason tells me I’ve lost my network connection, when I haven’t.

    My biggest complaint, and it’s probably just the demo, is that I have to spam a challenge to one of my friends to unlock the multiplayer. WTF? Why? Isn’t there online matchmaking? I refuse to do that on principle alone. Screw you, Codemasters. I’m not a shill for you and your crappy game.

  8. The First Door says:

    I’m quite looking forward to trying this!

    I found Dirt 3 to be very underwhelming and a little dull after the excitement, noise and track design of Dirt 2, so I’m perfectly happy for a return to loud music, jumps and fireworks. Although… I could do without an incessant commentator.

  9. RogB says:

    really REALLY dull.

    excellent visuals and presentation (as usual), handling is limp, collisions dont feel anywhere near fun enough for a destruction derby game.

  10. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    Mild lyrics?

  11. rocketman71 says:

    8 player tops and online only?. Hah.

  12. Dhatz says:

    FUCK THAT SHIT ALREADY. why the crap doesn’t steam allow to change download and install directory to another disk? And no wonder theres no crack if its online only.

    • Lorewin says:

      You can use symlinks/junctions to add a bit of flexibility to Steam install locations – Link Shell Extension is VERY useful for this.

      My main Steam folder is on a HDD; I use junctions and put things which have long load times/I’m playing online onto a separate SSD – pretty painless process.