I got this game yesterday, and it's great.
- Physics. The physics of this game are probably unrivaled by any other racing game out there today. Drifting around sharp corners is awesome, but the best part is the damage. This is nothing like GTR 2 in the respect that you have to figure your car's damage into the race. That said, going around and crashing into things is a hell of a lot of fun on it's own. Your doors can fall off, they'll accurately fly away. You can smash off your wheels, crack or break the windshields, and even lose parts of your car's body.
- Graphics. Another area where DiRT is the best of it's class. The cars are perfectly detailed, and so are the tracks. The question is can your hardware handle it?
- The tracks. For each track, you've got to work out a custom plan. If you go ahead and try to take a turn on some wet gravel the same you would as on dry tarmac, you'll be off a cliff before you can hit the brake. They're all gorgeous as well. The lighting is perfect, and accents the environments and cars just right. Everything in the tracks pretty much is destructible, although from experience I wouldn't recommend trying to take on a roadblock.
- Gameplay. The developers have really struck a golden balance between arcade and simulation. This isn't a Need for Speed game, but it's not GTR. You can afford to bump into stuff, in fact it's pretty much impossible not to. On the other hand, if you ram into a tree at 100 mph, your car will be totaled. The best part about it is the variable difficulty levels. On the easier ones, you're afforded more mistakes. It takes longer for your car to be severely damaged. On the higher difficulties though, one slightly imperfect turn could be the end of the race.
- Menus. This might seem weird to discuss, but the menus in it are great. Almost fun to navigate. The loading screens are also nice, displaying some of your various stats as you wait.
- Starforce. Who in their right mind would use this, I have no idea. Why should I have to install a driver to play your game? Besides this, it doesn't even help. The latest version of Daemon Tools works with it.
- Frame rate. I have a pretty high end system. Currently, I've got an X1800XT video card. Given, that's nowhere near top of the line, but it's not a bad card. The game is unplayable for me at high settings. I've got to lower the resolution to 1024x768 and put the settings on medium to get 40+ FPS. Good thing I don't mind playing at around 30 FPS. It's partly because the game is so resource heavy, but I think they could have optimized it a bit more.
Overall, I'd give it an 8/10. It's an awesome game. If you've got the system to handle it, I'd say it's a must have. If not, then honestly I wouldn't bother. A big part of the greatness of this game is the eye candy, although the gameplay is good.