There are a lot of racers out in the next few months, aren't there? There's Xbox 360 exclusive Forza 3, PSPGo! launch titles Gran Turismo and MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, Need for Speed: Shift and Bizarre Creations' Blur. But let's not forget Codemasters' Colin McRae: Dirt 2. At a recent showcase event in London, we sat down with game design manager Ralph Fulton to find out why Dirt 2 will stand out from the racer crowd, and what Colin McRae himself would have thought of the game.
VideoGamer.com: Dirt 2 is the culmination of a decision made four years ago on where to take the Colin McRae franchise. From what I've seen that seems to mean there is an extreme sports festival atmosphere influence. Is there a danger that there will be some traditionalist rally fans who played the series back in the day and might feel alienated by this new direction, or is the game still for them?
Ralph Fulton: Well I would always argue that this is a game which is still for them. It's still a game which, a large part of it is still rally content. It's got other stuff as well but I don't think that's sacrilegious. I think you'd have to be a pretty hardcore rally purist not to appreciate that there is a lot of connections between the different types of sport and the way we presented it.
I think what we're doing is basically reflecting the way rally is going. Rally is a burgeoning sport in America and it's been popularised by the guys who are in this game. I think this is a totally legitimate way of taking rally. There will be people who don't like it, but I think there will more that do.
VideoGamer.com: Is there a chance the next Dirt game might not have Colin McRae's name attached to it?
RF: We'll have to see.
VideoGamer.com: The PC version will support DirectX 11. What extra features will PC gamers notice?
RF: Without going into a graphical feature list, which I'm probably not best equipped to do at the moment, I can say that you will really see the superiority of DX11 in terms of the graphical fidelity it offers. And that was a decision we took, to delay the PC version, to take advantage of DX11, purely because we weighed it up and said, look, what it allows us to do is make the best-looking racing game that has ever existed. Not just of the year or on PC, but has ever existed, because we were the first with an already cutting-edge game to take advantage of this technology, so it would definitely be worth putting it back.
VideoGamer.com: What's your personal view on EA's decision to split the Need for Speed brand into three separate directions? Shift is the sim, there's an online racer (World Online) and an arcade racer (Nitro). Is that something you could ever see working for the Dirt brand, or will it always be a single catch them all game?
RF: I can't really comment too much on what other companies do, but from our point of view, we really believe that a brand survives and prospers through having focus, so customers understand what they're getting from a game. That's important in building a brand and sustaining it. You can infer from that what I think, probably.
One thing I would say about Shift as part of the GRID team is, we're obviously quite flattered.