DiRT 2's a bumpy ride, but rally racing fans should steer in its general direction.
The PSP doesn't have a lot of good off-road racers. Aside from the recently released Gran Turismo (which has rally racing events), the only one that comes to mind is Sega Rally Revo, which is a couple of years old. Fortunately, fans of the genre have another alternative with DiRT 2, a condensed version of the recently released console game.
Like the console versions, there are various modes, events and cars to choose from. You'll race all across the globe, from the Baja to Morocco, proving your racing prowess with a number of rally cars and off-road trucks and buggies. Over the course of the game's career mode, you'll unlock new vehicles and events, adding to your win column and becoming the ultimate DiRT champion.
Comparisons to console versions aside, DiRT 2 for PSP isn't bad, with the aforementioned Career Mode, Air Time challenges (where you try to go off as many ramps as possible) and quick arcade races. However, it's nowhere near as deep as it should've been. You can't form alliances, set up vendetta races, and, unless you have PSP-owning friends in the area, you're stuck racing against lame-brained computer controlled drivers that actually take their time getting to the finish line, even on the hardest difficulty.
Fortunately, DiRT 2 has quality multiplayer. Along with four-player AdHoc support (no Infrastructure), the game features Game Sharing, so you can let a fellow PSP owner download a limited version of the game. It's not full-on support like Mario Kart has on the Nintendo DS, but it's nice to have when you want to show people the game.
DiRT 2's gameplay is in the middle of the road. The game has two steering options available, analog and d-pad. No matter which one you use, you'll find that the cars respond accordingly, although there are times that it's too realistic. Just when you think you're going into a drift, you end up oversteering and almost spin out. With practice, this can be mastered, but it's a little frustrating for those used to drifting in other games.
Also, there are certain events in the game that will test your patience. Some have zig-zag turns that are incredibly hard to navigate while keeping your speed up. This leads to another problem with the game, the lack of a rewind option. First introduced in last year's Grid and carried over to most racing games ever since, there's no option to correct your mistakes.
As for graphics, the cars roll along the road with all their little physicalities intact, and the frame rate keeps steady, no matter what's happening. The track variety isn't bad, although there's a noticeable lack of crowds. The multiple camera angles are a nice touch too, so you can view the action from behind your car or right on the hood. A handy view meter shows you how far you're ahead of your opponents as well, with clear color markers. (You're blue, and they're red.)
Still, more could've been done with audio. There's very little announcing in the game, and background music is non-existent. On the bright side, that means we don't have to put up with crappy alternative tracks.
No, DiRT 2 isn't filled with the same awe and wonder as the console versions. That's obvious. However, if you can look past the speed bumps, you'll see it's a moderately enjoyable racer. Besides, people can't live on Gran Turismo alone.
What's Hot: A huge number of events and cars to choose from, you can game share with a friend, analog and d-pad steering, visuals aren't too shabby.
What's Not: No rewind feature, some race events are too frustrating, no background music, not as in-depth as the console versions.