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DiRT Showdown arriving on May 29th, have a trailer


Apr 20
// Brett Zeidler
It's crazy to think DiRT: Showdown is finally almost here. Wait, didn't DiRT 3 just come out? The "Complete Edition" of it just came out last month as well. Wow, Codemasters are not wasting any time these days. DiRT Showdown...
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DiRT Showdown's damage is massive


Mar 15
// Liam Fisher
Oh hey, it's a new trailer for DiRT: Showdown, the next entry to the long running rally series from Codemasters. After DiRT 3 ruffled some feathers with it's diminished focus on pure rally racing, Codemasters decided to...

Review: F1 2011 (Vita)

Mar 12 // Ian Bonds
F1 2011 (PS Vita)Developer: Sumo DigitalPublisher: CodemastersReleased: February 15, 2012MSRP: $39.99 When you first boot up the title, the opening cinematic showcases exciting races, celebratory cut scenes, and bright, vibrant graphics. It's only after starting up a race that you realize that this footage is directly ported from the home console version and does not reflect the product you are now playing. To put it simply, F1 on Vita is not a good showcase for the graphical capabilities of the system. In fact, that opening cinematic is doubly misleading, as the CG racers are nowhere to be seen in the handheld version at all outside that intro movie. For most people -- especially for those playing a portable racing title -- this isn't a big deal, and it wasn't for me either. It was just a bit jarring at first to expect such crispness and detail and then seeing what the game actually offered. When in the game proper, players will experience the best and sharpest-looking menu screens a racing fan could ever ask for ... if a racing fan wanted menu screens, that is. When it comes to the actual game, however, that's something else entirely. The sharpness of the opening cinematic gives way to muddy, pixelated cars with very little detail, even in cockpit mode. The courses are bland, spectator-less ghost villages that somehow have the sounds of screaming fans. It's as if they took the home version and weren't fully convinced they could fit all the content onto the portable version. At least it looks better than the 3DS port. That said, there is a remarkable amount of content here. Single races, tournaments, time trails, challenges, and the three-season, 60-race career mode are all here for Formula 1 fans to enjoy, though again, I use "enjoy" as a loose term. Each vehicle seems to handle the same, and races don't seem to offer the same visual feel as the speed of the cars ought to be expressing. Career mode itself is fairly deep -- players begin as an unknown racer working their way to the championship through trials and race auditions for different teams. Still, there's an awful lot of time spent navigating menus and clicking the "advance time" button to move things along. So, there's a lot to do but not a lot of fun to be had while doing it. F1 2011 seems to have been scaled down in every way except the raw content count, and that may have hurt the game in the long run. Races have no music, each engine sounds the same as the last, and the controls are atrocious (I can't count the number of times I turned the wheel only to see my vehicle continue straight down its original path). One wonders what racing fan would enjoy this at all. Sure, there are plenty of single-player and online modes, but who wants to experience them in such a watered-down format? F1 fans will be drawn in by the licensed racers and circuits from the 2011 Formula 1 season, the idea of using the DRS rear-wing control, and KERS boosting abilities. They may even be entranced by the depth of the career mode or the number of race options both online and off. But when it comes down to the presentation -- endless menus, muted graphics, and the races themselves -- many will lose interest in F1 2011 very quickly.
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I love arcade racing games. The sense of speed, the excitement of hairpin turns, and the hum of the engine get my blood pumping in a fast and fun way. Racing sims can offer the same enjoyment yet allow for more customization ...

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DiRT 3 Complete Edition announced, adds $30 of content


Feb 09
// Brett Zeidler
I really like these re-release packages that seem to come out these days, especially when I'm not able to get around to picking up every game I want to. When the re-release package comes with a substantial amount of new conte...

Preview: Collisions are a glorious thing in DiRT Showdown

Jan 27 // Casey Baker
DiRT Showdown (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Developer: Codemasters Publisher: Codemasters Release: May 2012 Just to clarify, DiRT Showdown is not a direct sequel to DiRT 3. In fact, as the Codemasters guys were quick to tell me, after getting feedback from their fans on how jarring the differences between the Gymkhana events and the regular rally events in DiRT 3 were, the team decided on offering players two entirely separate games that focused on these different aspects. The next true iteration of DiRT will be focused on the deep rally racing experience while DiRT Showdown should appease the demolition and stunt junkies who appreciated where Gymkhana took the series. DiRT Showdown isn't just some expansion, nor should it be considered DiRT 3.5. The game is a fully fledged beast with around 52 events spanning 19 locations and three different play styles -- Speed, Style, and Destruction. Many will be happy to know that pretty much every event can either be played via two-player split screen or online with up to eight players. Speed encompasses DiRT Showdown's racing modes, which include Race-offs, Lap Attacks, and Eliminator and Dominator. I was able to get some hands-on time with a Nevada track in Race-off mode called "8 Ball" due to the figure eight shape of the track. Immediately after getting my hands on the controller, I noticed how much faster the game generally felt than previous entries, with boosting being an important part of getting ahead amidst aggressive drivers. The handling veers more towards arcade than simulation, so much so that I at first found myself swerving around the gravel track, kicking up dust, because I've been so accustomed to the weightier feeling of previous DiRT cars. The race itself was both fast-paced and thrilling, and at one point I got into a collision with several cars, causing my own vehicle to do several barrel rolls before somehow making it back onto the track to still come out in the lead. Style introduces the new Ken Block-branded Hoonigan events that take place in large stadiums and allow a lot of exploration. Hoonigan events include Smash Hunter, Trick Rush, and Head 2 Head mode, and all generally focus on allowing a player to wander around a stadium pulling off awesome stunts or smashing a number of blocks with finesse. I didn't get a chance to check out any Hoonigan events, though from what I'm told, they're a much more varied version of the free-roam stadiums one could unlock in DiRT 3, each with their own specific goals and career progression. Finally, Destruction is heavily influenced by the Demolition Derby events found in GRID. The modes include Rampage, Hard Target, and Knockout. I had a chance to check out a Rampage event on the San Francisco track "Golden Gate." Rampage is a pure Demolition Derby mode with a variety of interestingly designed vehicles (including a hearse) where garnering the most points involves smashing into cars with as much force and strategy as possible, then making use of the last 30 seconds of the match to garner even more points. While T-boning and colliding hard with other vehicles and causing massive damage to pretty much everything in my path, I could quickly see how this may be the favorite party mode for gamers, both online and off. While the difficulty settings in DiRT Showdown can be adjusted to ramp up A.I. intelligence (i.e. cruelty towards you and others on the track), the real focus through the career mode will be on upgrading your vehicle so that it fits your play style. If you go with a heavier vehicle, you'll probably be focusing on speed and damage upgrades, but if you go with a lighter vehicle, you may find yourself along an upgrade path towards acceleration and agility. Succeeding in events earns you the cash to access these upgrades, so Codemasters wants to make sure the game is challenging and engaging enough for anyone on any difficulty level. DiRT Showdown won't be the game to appease fans of pure rally racing, but it's gearing up to be an exciting spin-off for the stunt junkie who wants demolition, pyrotechnics, and awesome stunt-filled races to the tune of cheering crowds.
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Codemaster's DiRT series has always been known for offering gamers a rally racing series with a great physics engine and smart A.I. opponents that push back as aggressively as the player pushes them. Perhaps the greatest si...

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Dizzy: Prince of the Yolk Folk trailer is egg egg egg egg


Dec 02
// Jim Sterling
Egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg e...
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Sigh: 'New' Dizzy game is an iOS/Android remake


Nov 23
// Jim Sterling
Seems the "eggciting" Dizzy adventure promised yesterday isn't very eggciting at all, with Codemasters revealing that the egg's grand return will actually be a remake of Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk on iOS devices and Androi...
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DIZZY THE EGG IS COMING BACK, BITCHES!


Nov 22
// Jim Sterling
Now, I don't expect too many of you to be excited, especially if you're not British, but DIZZY THE EGG IS COMING BACK! The ancient mascot of Codemasters (before the studio went a bit rubbish), Dizzy starred in a series of tax...
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Bodycount developer closing down


Sep 14
// Fraser Brown
In a move that's unlikely to surprise anyone, Codemasters have started the process of closing its Guildford Studio, creator of Bodycount. The UK developer wants to focus on its racing properties and is encouraging the 66 empl...

Review: Bodycount

Sep 06 // Jim Sterling
Bodycount (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Guildford StudioPublisher: CodemastersReleased: August 30, 2011MSRP: $59.99 (PS3, 360) / $49.99 (PC) Bodycount places you in the shoes of a member of The Network, which bills itself as a "modern solution" to "modern problems." Apparently, the "problem" in this game is an African civil war, and the "solution" is to encourage peace by decimating both sides with big guns. Eventually, some group called The Target shows up and you have to destroy it for no good reason by shooting more people with more guns.  That, in a nutshell is the plot of Bodycount. There's almost literally nothing else to it. Africa has a war, and then some bad people are bad for reasons that are never explained. I hope you like your violence unjustified! Like its spiritual predecessor, Bodycount is a game that puts the focus squarely on gun porn and endless amounts of action. However, like Black, the action in question feels rather lackluster, as if the developers were painting by numbers rather than striving to stand out. There's a rudimentary cover system, where aiming with the gun forces the player to stand still and manually control his peeking/crouching with the left stick, and combat is broken up only briefly by backtracking tasks such as "Run to door, find it's locked, run to computer, unlock door." The one way in which Bodycount tries to appear unique is, itself, something we've already seen before. Players are graded and rewarded for performing "Skill Shots" during combat. Chaining together particularly impressive or accurate kills rack up a combo meter -- the higher the combo, the better the score. It would be a very cool idea ... if Bulletstorm hadn't launched first, with a much better game.  Whereas Bulletstorm constantly rewarded players with all manner of exotic kills, ranging from groin shots to electrocutions and more, Bodycount's kills are so vanilla that it doesn't even begin to compare. In Bulletstorm, you can lasso an enemy, kick him in the air, and shoot the poor victim in his throat. In Bodycount, you can ... score headshots and shoot explosive barrels. The "Skill" shots in question are nothing we haven't seen in every first-person-shooter over the past ten years, and to release in the same year as Bulletstorm only drives home how uninventive the developers were. Enemies drop "Intel" upon defeat, which is used to initiate special abilities. The four abilities include temporary invulnerability, explosive bullets, the power to highlight enemies for better targeting, and a devastating airstrike. While useful in the game, it's yet another case where Bodycount is doing things we've all seen before. Outside of the Skill Shot system, we're left with a mediocre first-person-shooter that doesn't do anything to earn a player's attention. Levels are little more than big arenas full of enemies that feature only the most rudimentary of A.I, guns consist only of shotgun, assault rifile and SMG variants, and even the destructible environments fail to stand out as particularly impressive in a generation that gave us Red Faction: Guerrilla. Every mission is the same, and even when you're given the interesting objective of negotiating or apprehending a target, that goal invariably changes halfway through, turning into the same old assassination mission. Don't believe the game when it tells you to keep an enemy alive or simply talk to someone, because it never happens. Such objectives only exist to drive home how repetitive and monotonous the game actually is. I'm all for games where you just need to kill things, but if the killing in question is this flavorless, some mission variety is essential.  It's not like the game's four-hour campaign is crushingly unpleasant to play. It's just so mundane that to play it feels like a chore. Repeating levels full of repeating missions, churning down clone armies of repeating enemies with a range of repeating firearms. Bodycount typifies the phrase "One trick pony," with the added insult that the trick in question isn't even a good one.  As if to truly emphasize how uncreative the game is, it features the kind of typical, cynical, shoehorned multiplayer that manages to be exceptional only due to my wondering why anybody would bother developing it. Multiplayer consists of Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch across a small range of maps, and about five people are playing it. Slightly more interesting is the game's co-op feature, a fairly standard wave-based survival mode. Once again, however, it does only the bare minimum and there are simply better survival modes out there.  The game's not ugly, but it's definitely no stunner. If Bodycount does one commendable thing, it's the presentation of a rather colorful visual style in an industry full of brown shooters. Environments are brightly lit, or at least feature strong color contrast, and there's even some nice music to accompany them. Character design is from the science fiction bargain basement, however, and each level is rather flat and lifeless in spite of the color. Like so much about this game, it feels as if the developers only went far enough to make the graphics bearable, and went no further.   Bodycount might have gotten more attention five years ago, but even compared to Black, it's unexceptional. The word "generic" has become quite overused in recent years, but if ever a game truly deserved it, Bodycount would definitely be a top contender. It's about the only thing it could hope to contend in, because compared to the dozens of other, superior FPS titles on the market, Bodycount is just another shooter in a market that already has far too many of them. 
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When Black was released in 2006, I found it a most frustrating experience. It was incredibly stylish and looked gorgeous for its time, featuring some amazing environmental destruction and a bold artistic approach. However, so...

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Bodycount gets its final developer diary: The Demo


Aug 24
// Liam Fisher
The fourth and final entry in Codemasters' super serious look at its not-so-serious shooter Bodycount has made its way to the public. I don't know what other incentive you need though; they've already used the phrase "kick t...
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Codemasters' new F1 online game is free to play


Aug 23
// Dale North
Codemasters announces that F1 Online: The Game is a thing. It's coming to a browser near you, and it's a free-to-play affair, set to launch in the first quarter of 2012. This game will let you be both the driver and the race ...
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Bodycount demo available on Xbox Live Marketplace


Aug 16
// Nick Chester
A demo for Codemasters' first-person shooter Bodycount has hit Xbox Live Marketplace today. It's 1.45 GB, so plan what you'll do while you download it accordingly. Oh, and it's only available for Xbox Live Gold members for th...
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Bodycount lets you 'kick the ass out of the world'


Aug 08
// Liam Fisher
Yes, "kick the ass out of the world" is a real thing that Bodycount art director Max Cant has said, and I love it. In part two of the developer diaries for the upcoming shooter, the staff delves into what makes their game wo...
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Bodycount developers serious about this gun stuff


Aug 01
// Nick Chester
In the first of what will be a series of developer diaries, the folks behind Bodycount cut through the nonsense: this is a game about guns and shooting things with said guns. They're calling it a "really intense arcade shoot...
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Codemasters working on a new racing IP


Jul 04
// Dale North
I'm more than happy to buy any racing game that Codemasters puts out. At this point I know it's going to be a good title that I'll get my money's worth from. If they do some NASCAR sh*t I'll kill them, though I'm fine with an...
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Bodycount dev: There's room for FPSs beyond Call of Duty


Jul 01
// Jordan Devore
An interesting tidbit came out of a Bodycount interview with Codemasters game director Andy Wilson. "We looked at Bulletstorm and I think it's fair to say that it was a sort of 'acid test' for us," he tells CVG. "Because the...
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Codemaster's Bodycount out August 30


Jun 29
// Nick Chester
This past weekend, Jim Sterling told you Codemasters' Bodycount was coming out in August. Always vague, that Sterling. Here's a proper date, just revealed today, for those in North America: August 30. The first-person shooter...
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Codemasters dev on how consoles are reaching their limit


Jun 29
// Dale North
Sony and Microsoft like to tell us how long we'll be playing our current consoles. That's great when you consider that we're getting our money's worth out of the boxes. Game developers seem to have the systems figured out, an...
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Bodycount to be counting bodies this August


Jun 25
// Jim Sterling
Remember Bodycount? It was the spiritual successor to Black, before director Stuart Black left the development team and now who knows what the game's going to be like? It was slated for an early 2011 release date, but it's f...
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The first F1 2011 dev diary has people talking about cars


Jun 24
// Maurice Tan
Formula 1 has had a bunch of popular games before, like the wall-hittingly good Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco Grand Prix II and the classic Grand Prix 2. That's where I stopped playing those games, but Codemasters' F1 series ha...

The Story of Second Sight

Jun 21 // Jim Sterling
Redemption Free Radical is most commonly associated with the Timesplitters series, but had things gone differently, Second Sight might have been the studio's premier offering. It was originally called Redemption, and it was set to be Free Radical's first ever game.  "Originally the game had a working title of Redemption and was initially intended to be the first game developed by Free Radical Design," remembers Karl Hilton, now the managing director of Crytek UK. "From the outset, the premise of how your actions in the game change the course of the story and how failure would result in a cyclical re-telling of a story that had gone badly for the player was key. We pitched it to several publishers who all were very enthusiastic about it. "When the launch of the PS2 moved back slightly, we realized there was an opportunity to get a less narratively complex multiplayer game out in time for launch and so at that point Redemption was put on hold while we developed the first TimeSplitters game. Interestingly, I don’t recall us ever having too much in the way of documentation for the game when we first pitched it to publishers. We had a business plan but our game planning was still in its early stages." Timesplitters was released in 2000, where it garnered positive reviews and kickstarted a series that is still loved by gamers today. The unique art direction was a big part of what Timesplitters so memorable, a style that continued in Redemption, which had not been forgotten in spite of Free Radical's success with its multiplayer shooter.  Second Thoughts Second Sight was officially announced on February 24, 2004, but it had been in development far longer. In fact, we'd have heard about the title considerably earlier had the game's first potential publisher not gotten cold feet. "The original publisher unfortunately changed their mind about it quite far in to development and so, for a while, it was without a publisher," says Karl. "This meant we didn't start to publicize the game as early as we wanted to do. Codemasters, who we eventually signed it up with, were very enthusiastic about it and gave us as much publicity as we could generate together at very short notice (particularly for E3 that year). It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation." The game itself had unfortunately suffered a difficult development. The team had gotten pretty adept at first-person-shooters, but it tried to run before it could walk with the third-person psychic gameplay of Second Sight.  "Partly because it was our first third person game, Second Sight had quite a protracted and sometimes difficult development process. We were a little over-ambitious in the early stages and had to reduce the size of some of the levels we were building. However it was very refreshing to be working in third person for the graphics and we were all enthusiastic about the originality of the story we were telling and how we were telling it. We were also very confident about the overall quality of the game." Despite arriving late to the party, Second Sight certainly got some decent coverage. I personally remember seeing a fair few magazine stories on the title, which is how I got quite excited for the title. It looked gorgeous for its time, and the gameplay was incredibly promising, not to mention unique.  At least, it was unique until people took notice of another title with the exact same premise -- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy.  A Situation No Psychic Could Have Predicted "We were certainly a little surprised when we first heard about it but you always have to allow for competitors arriving in your 'market space' whether deliberately or coincidentally," expresses Hilton. "We didn’t let Psi-Ops influence Second Sight in any way as we were confident that what we were making was sufficiently different, despite some of the higher level similarities." In a manner that perhaps mirrored this generation's "inFAMOUS vs. Prototype" conflict, press outlets and gamers alike couldn't help comparing and contrasting the two visually distinct, but eerily similar games. There were a few notable difference, of course. Second Sight was the more atmospheric game, with a focus on narrative and a great reliance on stealth and tactics. Psi-Ops took the mentally powered gameplay in a more action-oriented direction, with more realistic visuals and a comparatively direct storyline.  The differences don't matter in a marketplace that has two games revolving around psychic powers where previously there were none. At the time, you couldn't bring up one game without the other getting mentioned, and there was a definite case of gamers deciding to choose between the two.  Looking back, Karl Hilton doesn't think he can even guess whether or not the conflict helped or harmed Second Sight in any way, but that at least the fight between the two games generated some discussion and kept the game in the spotlight. "It’s impossible to say whether it affected sales or not. In one sense it was good to have the extra coverage that the two games 'competing' with each other generated." It could almost be said that neither game really "won" in the end. Both titles failed to become blockbuster success stories and neither one got a sequel. For Second Sight, Hilton believes the game just didn't have enough time to get the attention that new intellectual property needs. Codemasters supported the game as best it could, but the delayed announcement and failure to generate enough hype in time led to a less than glorious launch. "As a developer you always automatically want more marketing as it is always a positive and should help your game to sell more. However, I think the lack of a proper ‘build up’ phase when we didn’t have a publisher hurt us more in the long run. A new IP needs to build anticipation and hype in the gaming community and Second Sight didn’t get that chance. In terms of press reviews, it certainly didn’t get the overwhelmingly positive response that you always hope for. Most reviewers 'liked' it and it got a mix of reasonable scores for story, graphics, sound etc. but nothing outstanding." The idea of Second Sight enjoying a "reasonable" ride extended to sales as well, with Karl stating they were, "Okay but not great." All told, the game generated just shy of one million sales after its launch. No Second Outing Unfortunately, it seems that we will never get to see Second Sight again. Crytek UK holds the full rights to the game and could theoretically make a sequel if it chose to, but it sees no need to revisit the IP. "Overall it didn’t generate sufficient interest for us to feel it was worth making a sequel," Hilton states. "We had some ideas ready, but we decided it didn’t have any momentum as a new franchise. Codemasters gave Second Sight good support and we even released a PC version (which wasn’t part of the original release plan). Ultimately history appears to have been much kinder to the game than we would have thought after its initial release.  "Second Sight does crop up occasionally in discussions in the gaming community about good narrative in games and games that were ‘sleeper’ hits (although you could never describe the final sales figures as a hit)." Overall, one gets the impression that Crytek UK is pleased to have made the game, but remains happy to let the past be the past. It had a crack of the whip, didn't quite get the desired results, and put it to bed. As someone who loved Second Sight, I feel it's a shame that the game didn't get a chance to expand its story and further grow into something special, but I'm glad I got to play it and that I can still talk about the game today.  Having achieved at least a cult legacy for itself, I dare say there will be a few open arms welcoming another Second Sight game. With enough marketing, it could have the potential to do amazingly well, because we have not had another game quite like it. I'd say BioShock is the closest we've come, but it's still not quite the game.  In any case, let it be known that there are still Second Sight fans out there who would love another game, should Crytek UK ever decide to pull it from the vault. 
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Second Sight is a game remembered more for its bad timing than for what it did as a piece of interactive entertainment. Before Free Radical released this game, our opportunity to play with psychic powers in videogames was par...

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GRID PC version online revived by GameRanger


Jun 21
// Dale North
We told you recently that Codemasters pulled the plug on the online play for the PS3 and PC versions of racer GRID. Now we're back to tell you that at least the PC version's online play has been revived. GameRanger, a PC onli...
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Interview: The new features in F1 2011


Jun 19
// Maurice Tan
I don't know anything about Formula 1 other than that I used to sit for three hours and waited for cars to crash in races ten years ago. The F1 series is very popular in Europe though, so check out what Codemasters had to sa...
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Codemasters kills GRID online for PS3 and PC


Jun 17
// Dale North
Codemaster will end online play for GRID for PS3 and PC. It's always a sad day when online ends for a good game. For some reason the Xbox 360 online play will live on. For now. "After three years of service, 2008's Race Drive...
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Codemasters website hacked last week, now they tell us


Jun 10
// Maurice Tan
You may have gotten an email today from Codemasters about this, even though perhaps you don't remember ever registering anything on their websites. I know I thought that when I got the email, until I remembered I probably sig...
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Interview: Talking safety cars and clouds for F1 2011


Jun 03
// Hollie Bennett
The BAFTA award winning F1 2010 has been Codemasters biggest cash cow to date and they are back, this time looking to bring an even bigger and better game than before. I interview Chief Game Designer Steve Hood who...
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Interview: Codemaster's Bodycount returns from obscurity


Jun 01
// Hollie Bennett
At last year's E3, Codemasters announced their new shooter Bodycount. However, since its big unveiling, the game's hardly been seen or heard from until it appeared at Namco Bandai's Level UP event. I interviewed Ga...

Review: DiRT 3

May 25 // Dale North
DiRT 3 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [both reviewed], PC)Developer: CodemastersPublisher: THQReleased: May 24, 2011MSRP: $59.99 The folks at Codemasters make racing games that are on par with the top franchises out there, like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. The difference is that they focus their games on one aspect of racing, rather than try to be the end-all racing title. DiRT 3 focuses on the racing experiences that are off the beaten path. That means rally racing, rallycross, trailblazing and everything else that makes your car dusty and crusted with mud. This is a dirty game. DiRT 3 isn't the type of game where you can hold down the "go button" and expect to win a race. Well, I take that back. If you put the game on the Casual setting, you will likely win every race. It's really hard to make a mistake with the heavy corrective steering and brake settings. It's also hard to enjoy when you're winning all the time, which makes me wonder why they made this the default setting. The Intermediate mode takes most of the helps off, forcing you to quickly get a feel for the precise control. Expert takes all assists off, naturally. Of course, you'll have access to the game's rewind feature, which lets you hit a button to pause time, rewind to a point before a crash or wipeout, and try again. I vowed not to use it when I first started the game, but was dialing it up often five or six hours into the career mode. DiRT 3's controls are excellent. They're tight, responsive and realistic, with no issues to mention. The driving control is so finely tuned that there's really no room to complain when you wipe out and roll your car -- that's all you. This comes as no surprise: Codemasters is among the best in the business when it comes to finely tuned and polished racers.  Career mode is the heart of DiRT 3. It's a guided path through all aspects of rally racing, gradually building from simple on-asphalt races through event types like rallycross, trailblazer and landrush. You'll eventually get a taste of stunt arena mode Gymkhana. You'll race to earn points to unlock the next event or series, with bonus Rep points coming from side challenges, like hitting a top speed, or performing a long drift. These Rep points will unlock more cars and game options.  I like how you acquire cars in this game. It just ... happens. You win, proceed, and get cars. With the way the game's career mode is structured you're never really bothered with trying to gather money, visit garages or tweak anything other than preferences. This makes the driving focused, letting you worry more about your skills and less about some bank account balance.  Codemasters went nuts with the vehicle types and makes in this game. The team dug deep for general rally racing vehicles, going several decades back to offer up old classics along with your shiny, modern rally cars. It's fun to take one of the older cars for a spin in the dirt and see just how different it handles from a fancy new Subaru or Mitsubishi. Add in trucks, trailblazer cars and the buggy cars (very fun!), and you've got a ton of variety to try out on the various types of tracks and events. DiRT 3 is beautiful. The game has a shine and polish that puts it above even Forza Motorsport 3 and Gran Turismo 5 in the visuals department. The licensed and branded cars are lovely and detailed, but the locales are what will really dazzle you. You'll feel like you're seeing the world as you travel in this game's career mode, from sunny desert Kenya to the hazy Great Lakes area in Michigan. Cool down in the snow of Aspen, and then get out and away to Finland and Norway. These locales all have a high level of detail and variety that have to be explored to be appreciated -- I actually caught myself slowing down to look! You'll see old barns and cracks in the streets in Michigan, or the hills in the distance in Monaco. Some of the best-looking locations have time-based variants, like the sunsets in Kenya, or racing in Aspen at night in the snow. Again: Prettiest racing game ever. The beauty continues into the game's menus and presentation. The look is clean and flashy, with bold lettering for the text and a bevy of triangles for all the event items and interface. You'll simply cursor through pyramids of triangles to pick events and challenges in the foreground as your cars zip by in the background against a gold, sun-kissed backdrop. It's all very sleek and cool, and a world away from the clunky presentation of its predecessor. The sound and music of DiRT 3 are also of note. The sound design is among the best I've ever heard in a racer. Playing with a full Dolby Digital 5.1 rig is a treat, as the sound work puts you right in the car. When playing with one of the in-car views, the surround speakers are working overtime, tickling your ears with rear rumbles and crunches as you drive over different surfaces. Your subwoofer will get a workout from all the wooshes and thuds of the interface and presentation sounds, all of which are really satisfying to hear. The music selection is great, with chill tracks playing during menus and high-energy songs amping you up before races. The races themselves are without music, which is exactly how it should be. There's only one hangup with the sound and presentation: the announcers. They're helpful at setting the stage at first, but they provide a bit too much in the way of hand holding, and quickly become annoying. General information, event types and later sponsor and team information are described at length, and there's no way to skip these sections. It feels like rambling after awhile, and that's made all the more painful with the stereotypical over-enthusiastic racing game voice. The post-race pep talks/insults and prompts quickly become just as annoying. I've never been called "buddy" or "amigo" so many times. Also, the announcer's constant promotion of the game's YouTube race upload function becomes aggravating very quickly. The tracks in DiRT 3 aren't just pretty to look at. These are tracks so lovingly crafted that they force you to become intimate with the throttle. They work at such a deep level to get you in the zone that you become connected with the road and fully immersed in the race. These tracks are at the heart of what makes DiRT 3 such a joy to play. It's apparent that Codemasters worked hard to make courses that really compliment the different race types and vehicles, and the way that they're all gradually uncovered in career mode makes for long gaming stretches that seem fresh for hours. From dirt to mud to snow and asphalt, and then in different kinds of cars, you'll constantly be treated with new challenges. Codemasters says that there are over 100 routes in DiRT 3. Gymkhana is the newest addition to the DiRT world. It's not so much racing as it is stunts, all set in an arena designed specifically for showing off. The Gymkhana events are a bit of a departure from the rest of the game's rally focus, but it works, and the challenges are a lot of fun. You're set free to drift, do donuts, make jumps and crash through obstacles in these arenas, doing as much fancy stuff as you can within the allotted time. The game's career mode does a good job of teaching you how to do these tricks before your first event, though some take more practice than others. Once you master them, showing off for the virtual crowd for points is a trip. It's even more fun online, in an arena with several others.  Online is fully supported in DiRT 3, with multiplayer race events being the main draw. I enjoyed several quick matches online, all of which were fast to connect and flawless in execution. The host has the ability to set up a chain of several different kinds of events. My last session had our group racing for time, then moving into rallycross, and finally drifting it out in a Gymkhana session. This wealth of options and game types is nice for racing fans that aren't into simply topping race times from leaderboards. As of the time of writing, Sony's PlayStation Network was down for maintenance. DiRT 3's online functionality for the PS3 version is locked behind a VIP Pass code included with each copy of the game. Being unable to access the PlayStation Network to enter this code means that PS3 owners are currently not able to use any of the game's online features or YouTube functionality. Maybe the current situation will discourage some publishers from senselessly locking part of a game's feature set behind a code in the future. My only other beef: load times. They're long. They're not so long that you break controllers, but they're long enough to have your enthusiasm dip a bit between races. There's always pretty visuals and cool music to enjoy during the wait, but even they get old after awhile. I wonder what the install process was for. It certainly doesn't seem to be helping the load times. DiRT 3 is the clear-cut leader when it comes to off-road racing. Simply put, there's no game that does rally racing better. Codemasters has perfected the look and feel of this series, and is well on the way to perfecting the presentation. The addition of Gymkhana events is both bold and welcome, and makes for a nice break from the white-knuckle races. This game is freaking massive, with a steadily increasing difficulty that will leave you feeling like a bonafied rally racer when it's all said and done. That's all I've ever really wanted out of a racing game. 
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I love racing games, but my favorite kind are the ones that take you off the road and into the elements. Rally racing has always been my preference. Actually (cue harps and clouds), my money-no-object dream is to actually ral...







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