The new racing video game, Dirt 3, includes its version of Gymkhana, the wild stunt-driving that's been called "drifting-cum-LSD-fueled-acrobatics". Makes sense. The inclusion of some sort of undead multiplayer racing? Well, that's a surprise.
Dirt 3, scheduled for a spring release, is another mostly-serious racing game from Codemasters. It's got 50 cars (1980s Audio Quattro included), a 60 per cent focus on rally racing, a streamlined interface, and more weather and time-of-day options. The game has an improved friction and pressure system that makes the tyres of the cars in the game handle differently as they race over gravel or tarmac and grip the ground differently, depending on the amount of air pumped into them.
Gymkhana is bonus, a reasonably expected bonus if you have a taste for modern show-off driving. It's a special mode inspired by driver Ken Block and the videos he's thrown onto YouTube for millions to watch. Block did his first big Gymkhana video in an old airfield, drifting down runways, painting the strip with burned rubber. The developers at Codemasters figured out that they couldn't recreate Block's exact run - they tried and found it's not possible to make it one contiguous drive - but they do let players be their own Ken Block near England's Battersea Power Station and in two other stunt-ready locations. Players can even save their runs and upload 30-second clips of them to YouTube.
Sounds good, right? But what about zombies? Dirt 3 designer Paul Coleman couldn't show me multiplayer but he described the game's unconventional zombie option. If players tire of normal head-to-head races or eight-player online matches, they can test the so-called zombie or undead mode. In that multiplayer mode one car becomes undead and has to infect the others before time runs out. The designers had considered putting zombies - actual (virtual) shambling, undead people - on the track. Maybe you'd drive right through them, they thought. But the car manufacturers they were working with didn't want their cars hitting anyone that looked human. Thus, no zombies to drive into, just cars that can sort of act like zombies. Coleman said a driver of a zombified car will notice their screen change colour. It will look like the windshield has some green slime on it. The player/driver is meant to feel infected.
Zombies are in just about every other kind of game, so now they're making it over to racing games too. It was inevitable. They're everywhere. Gymkhana's popular too.
Drift 3 will be out on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PCon May 24 and will support standard controllers and many racing wheels.