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Colin McRae Dirt

We get dirty with the near-finished game

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Speaking of which, we noticed immediately an improvement in the frame rate, which was somewhat choppy when we first played the game. While still not running at the ideal 60fps we'd have hoped for (which might still happen), it now appears smoother with the 360 churning out those super-detailed environments and cars at a more consistent rate.

We can forgive the slightly-less-than-ideal frame rate though because, as we're sure you're aware, the game looks incredible. As we sent our car skidding satisfyingly into winding bends we looked in awe at the dust being kicked up by our wheels and the cloud left in our wake.

As before, we were stunned by the shadows cast by sunlight shining through the surrounding trees. The grass, bushes and other vegetation is dense and detailed. And the car damage is now represented with shocking accuracy, not that we did too much crashing. We can't wait to see what the raining or snowy levels look like in action.

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The courses brilliantly mix slow curvy sections that give your handbrake a good workout with long straights that let you thrash your motor to ridiculous speeds on these narrow dirt roads. The buzz you get from pounding down a straight at 130mph is intense, with trees lining the road whizzing past you just a few feet away, and you know you're just one slip-up from a race-ending smash-up.

If you're a fan of the sport you will be pleased with the courses now being based on real-life raceways, unlike the fictional roads of the previous CM games. Most notable is the Pike Peak International Hill Climb event, which includes the full 20km course.

The full game also lets you get dirty on the Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, the Knockhill Racing Circuit in Fife, Scotland, and Circuit de Ducs in France.

Unfortunately, we weren't given the chance to jump into any of the buggies or trucks coming new to the Colin McRae series.

But our time will come soon - we're expecting a full copy of the game to land on our desks within the next week or two, and when it does you can expect even more detailed impressions, videos and eventually a full review on CVG.

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