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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: January 4, 1999
The computer racing genre keeps splitting into more and more subcategories. Originally, we just had cars speeding around stadium tracks. Then we moved to point-to-point racing on regular roads, then off-road competition, then motorcycle racing. Meanwhile, simulations split off completely from arcade offerings. The list goes on and on. There is such a large and diverse audience for virtual racing that there always seems to be room for one more type of competition.
Australian-based Ratbag, well-known for its 1999 release, Powerslide, has created yet another niche with its new title, Dirt Track Racing. Combining the dirt and mud of off-road competition with the confined oval tracks of traditional stadium racing, this represents a novel hybrid. While Powerslide was published by GT Interactive, DTR is published by its budget label, WizardWorks. This is the only offering so far to replicate a popular, yet not widely known, form of racing in the U.S., with over 700 tracks across the country run by the International Motor Contest Association that endorses this title.
Unlike Powerslide, which attempted to appeal to both arcade and simulation crowds, DTR places its emphasis on what the savvy designers know best–pure simulation. Toward that end, the garage allows extensive customization. Among the items you may tweak are the angle of the tires when the steering wheel is set straight ahead, the distance between your wheel and the axle, tire pressure and compound, wheel size, brake strength, steering lock, bump and rebound dampening, spring strength and length, gear ratio, and weight distribution. All in all, this is a fine array of customization capabilities, comparable to the best racers out there.
There are three available modes: quick race, career, and multiplayer. Quick race seems to have been thrown in almost as a practice mode, as the heart of DTR is its career option. In the various modes, you have five camera views available. While the selection of perspectives is pretty much what fans have come to expect, the in-car cockpit view is disappointing because it neither includes distinctive dashboard styling nor shows the steering wheel. The absence of any form of replays, which are now expected in every major release, is also quite a downer.
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