DEVELOPER: Specular Interactive
PUBLISHER: Raw Thrills
RELEASE: September 2011
PLAYERS: 1-8 (linked)
HARDWARE: Custom PC based
ARCADE EXCLUSIVE?: Yes
RATING: Green – Suitable For All Ages
SYNOPSIS: From the Specular Interactive Page about the game:
It’s time to get dirty!
Dirty Drivin’ is a high energy combat racing game that combines classic arcade ingredients. We’ve got insane custom
vehicles, devastating and devious weapons, epic environments sprinkled liberally with power-ups and a reckless
disregard for the rules of the road. All of which boils down to a deliciously sweet ride
REVIEW: By Adam “Arcadehero” Pratt”
I created an extensive preview of the game after I had the opportunity to visit Specular Interactive in Southern California not long before the game was released. Some changes were made to the final version but for the most part it is all the same. Read it here.
After the development of H2Overdrive for arcades, the development studio Specular Interactive set out on their next project, a driving game that at first was supposed to be H2Overdrive with wheels but evolved into something a little different changing the focus to vehicular combat. Players race down one of fifteen different tracks and have to “drive dirty” to get ahead, smashing into their opponents or blasting them with power-ups picked up along the way. A hall-effect dashboard crank device is located on the right-hand side of the driver’s seat that the player pulls to activate a collected item. It is also used to spin a bonus wheel at the end of each level. There are 12 monster trucks to choose from and 14 tracks to race on.
When the game starts you can create a profile to save progress on the machine. You select one of the tracks and then move onto selecting your vehicle of choice. After that you can modify it (I guess I should use the more current “trick it out” term) to your liking from the available options. As you progress in the game you earn money to spend in the Gearbox so you can unlock more content. Like with H2Overdrive, there are different ranks to aim for., given out at the end of each round. The game also possesses achievements as an incentive for repeat play.
Some of the tracks use the Crusin’ USA kind of idea where you don’t race in a closed circuit, you just go from one point to another with plenty of twists and turns in between. There are three tracks which are closed circuits however, where you have to lap it three times to reach the finish. There are a number of secret paths to take on each track and as another incentive for repeat play, secret power-ups.If you race in single player, one CPU truck will be your “rival” that will make a point to pick on you through the race. I found the AI to be well-balanced, never coming across a situation where it was patently ridiculous that the computer won when I was on the top of my game.
Normal power-ups are placed gratuitously around the track giving players ample opportunity to pick something up to give themselves an advantage. What you can pick up is determined by the “Jerk-O-Meter”, a gauge that measures how aggressive you are racing. The best way to get this up is by smashing players to drive next to. A icon will appear on the screen when that happens and if you quickly shift the steering wheel in their direction you will smash them up without changing direction on the track. With a little practice you can even smash an opponent multiple times which is a lot of fun and it changes the dynamic of a standard racing game. It solidifies something I pulled off once racing a friend on San Francisco Rush 2049 by accident when we both were aiming for a narrow pass right at the beginning of a race and I timed it just right to send him flying into a wall, exploding in a fireball of hilarious glory (for me, not him so much but his reaction after having trash talked a little bit right before that was delicious). That wasn’t the main point of Rush but it was awesome and Dirty Drivin’ opens up for many more moments like that since its an essential part of the game. Sure you could race through the game without doing any of that but doing so misses the point and the fun.
I could detail the weapons in text or you watch this video put together that just shows the weapons in action. I particularly like the land mines which shoot out in front of your where you can see, you can sort of kick them along like soccer balls into your opponents.
The only thing that disappointed me about the game is that I got a chance to play it with the original crank that was attached to the side of the seat, a feature removed in the final version. That happened apparently due to operator concerns with the possibility of the crank being damaged although I would have preferred the redesign to keep it on the side. The crank found on the release version uses the same “Bone Daddy” head but the feeling when you pull it just isn’t the same. It works the same in game for activating your items but originally it had a little feedback, like a slot machine crank. The game has no break (doesn’t really need one) and by double tapping the gas it allows your truck to jump, as well as shake off a weapon lock. The dashboard has a number of lights which indicate a status for your vehicle, just a nice touch to the overall design.
Graphically the game improves upon what Specular did with H2Overdrive, most likely taking advantage of more recent nVidia-based hardware (H2Overdrive used an nVidia 9800GT card). Each track is a richly detailed environment with vibrant colors, numerous shader and particle effects and it boasts a solid 60 fps rate @ 1360×768 resolution. Geometric detail is high for objects and environments. For future trivia, the animations for some of the objects on the tracks like the gorilla and dinosaur were done by a professional that worked on Avatar.
Most of the music follows in the vein of the main title track, which is White Zombies More Human Than Human from ’95. Energetic 90s style rock. There is also some good voice acting for the announcer Bone Daddy.
I already said my peace about the crank. Aside from that everything works just fine with a little extra depth being put into the steering wheel since how you use it directly affects combat.
A lot of detail was put into the cabinet, from the extra bright LED lights (I saw this at a movie theater arcade recently and it made the game stand out above everything else there) to the little dashboard lights which actually serve a purpose. They wanted to use real meters for the speed and RPMs but it would have driven up the cost of the cabinet a bit. What is there is still backlit and it all works together to make for a cool cabinet. At this time there is only one type of cabinet available that uses a 42″ screen.
If you play the game like you are supposed to, ie. drive like a total jerk, then its a real blast, especially against other players. I find the combat aspect of it more appealing than just racing a track. Achievements, rankings and the profile feature give you plenty of reason to come back for more and it’s an entertaining game to watch others play.
There are a lot of racers to choose from out there and what to play comes down to what you want from your racing game. Dirty Drivin’ is not a simulation racer and that’s fine by me – I really like the combat side of it which makes it quite an enjoyable game to play.
Prototype Version played at Specular Interactive Studios. The guy on the right is Brian Silva who is the face of the driver on the sideart for Hydro Thunder.
Official Trailer Launched on 8/18/11
The release version that is out on the market now
Thanks to Kieran for furnishing the pics from the UK location test. This shows the prototype version that had the crank.
Here are some videos showing the game on location test at an undisclosed location