Have you ever imagined yourself in a VW Golf sliding at 90 miles per hour down a muddy slope in New Zealand"sideways!? Well, that is exactly what you will experience in Colin McRae Rally. This game shows you how rough racing really can get. We’re talking off-road racing in cars that you can find cruising around downtown!
The idea behind Colin McRae Rally is that it will accurately recreate for you the excitement and feeling of actual rally racing. Rally racing is different from NASCAR racing or Formula One racing. It is much more off-road than a typical race track. This makes the feel of the game a little new and different to most of us, but it also makes it a heck of a lot of fun to play.
During most of this game you will fight to maintain control of your car as you slide through those sometimes muddy, sometimes snowy, and sometimes icy turns. If you choose to try playing with a joystick, your hand is going to be hurting when you finish a race. I strongly suggest using the keys or a special steering wheel controller. You may never reach extremely high speeds in the races; in fact I think I hit fourth gear only for a split second once or twice. As the driver in this wild terrain, you have no time to gain speed and sometimes, speed can be your worst enemy. I found that out the hard way.
Overall I really enjoyed playing this game and I think anyone who likes racing games will as well. It was definitely great fun and I enjoyed trying a style of racing I didn’t even know existed. The specific features of the game were also pretty good but I’ll talk about those more later.
Now on to the ratings: the graphics. The graphics in this game were actually pretty good in some areas, but in other places there was room for improvement. One of the features that I think Colin McRae Rally has done extremely well is the cars themselves. In my opinion, the cars are the most important and the coolest part of the game and Codemasters did an excellent job with them. The cars are extremely detailed. Their racing stickers are realistic. They are accurate in comparison to actual cars that are seen on the streets and in races and I found that very impressive. Each car carries the specific logo of their sponsor company on their hood and rear. That means the Codemasters team did an exquisite job in paying attention to detail.
Unfortunately it looks like Codemasters got tired of doing such a good job. The environments, well, they aren’t bad exactly, but they aren’t that good. The actual roads are pretty well done, but the surrounding trees and shrubs resemble the primitive 2D surroundings found in early Nintendo 64 games. It disappointed me very much to see that. I know the computer is capable of rendering much better trees and I don’t understand why Codemasters didn’t spend more time on the realism of the tracks. Since they are making the game require a 3D accelerator card, the least they could do is give us a graphically stunning game. The graphics should have been perfect in this game. Codemasters needs to work on environment realism and 3D appearance a little more.
Let’s talk about the sound. All I have to say here is "Wow." Everything in this game sounds great. The car engines make some of the coolest revving sounds I have ever heard. They have a high-pitched purr as opposed to the usual low growl. The cars make sounds as they shift from gear to gear and the engine power increases. Skidding, sliding, splashing, crashing, flipping, rolling, cracking of windows and buzzing of engines are just a few of the sounds you will hear as you fly through the tracks in this fast-paced game. It is incredible. The sounds make the game feel so real. You can imagine you are actually involved in a rally race somewhere in Europe.
Perhaps the most important of all the features is gameplay. The gameplay is what makes or breaks a game. A game can have great sound and graphics but it will not be a top selling game without good gameplay. Gameplay is the skeleton of a game onto which other special features are added to make it more fun. I think Mr. Colin McRae will be pleased to hear that the game he gave exclusive licensing to has some extremely kick-butt gameplay! I love the way this game plays. You will get so involved in the game that you will feel you are actually in the race. And as mentioned earlier, if you are using a joystick you will end each race with an ache in your hand because the excitement is so intense.
Additional Bonus: I like the fact that each series of races is suited to the country in which they are taking place. For example, New Zealand has a more muddy set of tracks while Sweden challenges you with snow and ice. In this game you are also given the chance to repair your car between races and customize the parts in order to squeeze every second you can out of your car. This makes you feel as if you really are in control and you can suit the car to your driving style — whether you are aggressive and speedy, or going for the more slow and steady approach. The several view choices you are offered can also allow you to race in the way you feel most comfortable. I personally like the outside view of the car because it is less chaotic when I hit those turns a little too fast and flip over in the dirt.
The game offers several skill levels of play ranging from novice to expert. There is a driving school you can "enroll in" to make sure you are able to handle your car before you actually try racing. There are several real cars that you can choose from, including the Subaru Impreza, the Ford Escort WRC, the Mitsubishi Lancer, the Toyota Corolla, the VW Golf GTI, the Skoda Felicia, and the Seat Ibiza. The tracks are located in over 8 countries, including Greece, New Zealand, Great Britain, Sweden, and Australia, and there are about 52 in all. Colin McRae Rally is one intense racing game, that is for sure.
I gave Colin McRae Rally a total of 5 GiN Gems because it is quite an impressive title in the racing genre. The graphics are very good despite a few drawbacks in terms of environment details. The sound is awe inspiring to say the least and the gameplay is definitely a key winning characteristic for this game as well. The sound and gameplay make up for Codemasters’ mistakes in the graphics department and prompt me to award this game a perfect score. It is a definite must-have for anyone who wants to try some intense racing! Have fun and keep on gaming!