After last year’s five-star Dirt 3, Codemasters have let their hair down and swapped taut rallying for brutal car-on-car destruction.
It’s a spin-off weaned on destruction derbies and deep-fried snacks. A game where the road to victory is littered with the dented and busted wrecks you’ve rammed off the track.
Showdown’s driving challenges veer from speeding around tracks designed for mass pile-ups to jousting with psychotic rivals who could teach Mad Max a thing or two about reckless motoring.
This means there are smashes, fireworks and scratched paintwork a-plenty, but for a game so keen to feed our appetite for destruction, Showdown’s collisions pale against the spectacular crashes of the Burnout games. Even when you deliver a fatal shunt to an opponent they just turn ghostly blue instead of ending up a smoking pile of twisted metal.
This, coupled with the mundane car stunt challenges and a couple of so-so game modes, causes Showdown to occasionally stall during your gaming journey. However, when it does find fifth gear it’s a game far more raw and convincing than any rally series spin-off should be.
The urgent Eliminator races in which every few seconds the car in last place gets destroyed until just one is left is superbly tense, while multiplayer competition injects new life and unpredictability into the solo modes.
And Showdown quite rightly concentrates its fun in the rough and tumble of player-versus-player motorcar chaos. To add to the social side the game also lets show-offs upload their in-game performances to YouTube and then message their mates to see if they could do any better.
All this is enough to ensure Showdown’s redneck racing formula regularly hits full throttle, but thanks to its more patchy solo experience it’s not quite enough to take our breath away.