A team of race professionals helps you along every step of the way and explains what is going on. It is a tutorial that is built into the game, but it is handled with a natural ease that makes it feel like you are being gently guided into the game. The presentation is handled well enough that you don’t feel like you are being herded towards the first event, even though you are. If it were a movie, the pacing would be spot on. The voices are never more than that, and they do grow old after awhile, but they are helpful as you ease into the game, especially for players new to the series.
Along with the navigator, you will have an agent that tells you about the leveling system, which is how you receive offers from new teams to drive new cars.  In this, DiRT 3 stumbles a little bit.  When you reach a certain level, you have more car options. on paper it sounds fine, but in reality, the choice of what you want to drive is essentially taken away from you. There will be a few options, but there is almost always one car that won’t necessarily be better or worse than the others, but it will offer you more points for racing with it.  The agent, as well as the idea of a garage are both essentially wiped out in one fell swoop. For those that aren’t familiar with the rally car models, or just don’t care about the ride as long as it is fun to drive, this will mean nothing at all. In fact it actually simplifies the experience.  For others it will rob the game of some depth and repeated play potential.
The first few events are straightforward enough, and if you are new to the series and play on casual—as the game recommends for noobs to the series—it turns on several assists that help you to race by braking at the correct time. A line to follow is also present, and while interesting, the casual setting is really just a tutorial, because it makes the game far too easy. The jump in difficulty from casual to the next level up is fairly stark and may take a few races to get used to, but the idea of the casual setting is to get a sense of how the game moves. And that is what sets DiRT 3 apart from the majority of racing games and makes it so much fun to play—the way it moves.

Pimp My Game

The graphics in DiRT 3 are top of the line. The tracks have a realistic appeal to them, and there is even a layer of dust and/or mud that will cling to your car as you race. You can, and at least once or twice will probably find yourself staring at the background sunset or city as you slam into a wall, but its worth it. Speaking of, hitting a wall will send parts flying in a spectacular-looking way, and two areas suffer realistic damage—the wheel/chassis and engine/drivetrain. You can still complete a race with a damaged car, but it is much more difficult. For those that find themselves sliding into the wall more often than they would like to admit, the damage option can be turned off at the main menu.
The audio has also been polished, and not just the engine roar. The sound of gravel sliding out from under the car is hypnotic and actually helps you when it comes to things like drifting, and it is also a nice touch to be racing on a track and hear a fan yelling at you as their voice flies by. The music is also well chosen, and while some might not like the primarily techno and electronica selection, many will.
DiRT 3 also has an interesting mechanism built in that allows you to hit a button and immediately be taken to a video editor, where you can edit the last 30-seconds and upload it to YouTube. It is an interesting idea that may make its way to other games in the future, but the 30-second time limit is a bit too short to be much more than a gimmick–albeit a neat one.
But the looks, tracks, races and sounds are all just the details, and none of them would be worth a thing if the game physics and driving mechanics weren’t any good. This is where DiRT 3 earns its marks.
Everything else is just presentation, but thankfully the driving is tight and responsive, and the physics have a logic to them that makes perfect sense once you get used to them. You can’t drive on snow like you would on gravel, and neither are going to come close to handling like on asphalt. You have to learn how to handle these environments properly, but when you do, the thrill of hitting a jump at 100mph over a dirt track while shooting through a narrow path, or timing a slide on snow exactly right is unmatched.
It is a robust driving system as well that you can tweak with aids to help you as you like. If you want the full aids on, you can essentially just hold down the gas and steer for a win.  Its a nice option, but one that makes the game dull quickly. From there you can tweak things like the the navigation line, the brakes and a few other things until you are comfortable. It might sound like a cheat, and maybe it is, but DiRT 3 is about one simple idea: Fun. the racing is just fun. Forget about the lack of cars and the uninspired voices telling you what to do. Ignore any real depth in the off-track stuff, and don’t even worry about the seasons. The races are simply fun thanks to what is arguably the best driving engine on the market today.
If you are a gearhead, other than some fantastic racing, there may not be enough to appease your love of all things automotive. But in the sacrifice of the endless customization options some racing games give you, DiRT 3 is the most accessible off-roading game on the market, as well as one of the best racing games made.

Score: 8.5 out of 10