Colin McRae Rally Game Review
Reviewed for the PC
By Stuart Harvey
After being hyped as the best rally game ever for the PC Colin McRae Rally hit the stores at the end of ’98 and was given a huge thumbs up by game reviewers. After having the game for a couple of months lets take a look to see if the acclaim is justified.
The game is comprised of four types of play - rally school, time trial, rally and championship, each of which can be played at any one of 3 levels of difficulty (novice, intermediate and expert). The first place to start is the rally school where you are given a series of tests in basic car control under the instruction of one C.McRae. These tests commence with driving in a straight line? and proceed to manoeuvring around cones and finally a simple stage. The tests are increased in difficulty as you progress from novice to expert. When you have left school you are now deemed "fit" to be let loose onto the stages (or not as the case may be). Alternatively, you can just go straight onto the stages and "bunk off" school.
Personally I found the best way was to begin with the time trial mode which enables you to play any stage in the countries available, this allows you to get a feel for the pace notes and a feel for the cars on offer. If you start in the novice mode you are limited to 2wd cars such as the Felicia, Golf, Ibiza and Megane. In intermediate you can have 4wd works cars only, such as Ford, Toyota, Scooby Doo and Mitsubishi. In expert mode you can pick from any of the two groupings.
The creators (‘Codemasters’) have done a terrific job with the realism, attention to detail and gameplay. Once you blast off from the start line you can see mud progressively gather on the car and gravel spray out from beneath your screaming wheels. Various driving conditions are included in the rallies with some stages being driven at night, in fog, in the wet and in blazing sunshine. The car takes damage as you rattle off banks and trees and details such as smashed lights, crumpled wings and in my case a crumpled roof can clearly be seen. The damage is not merely cosmetic as any damage also affects handling. The audio effects are equally impressive from ‘Nicky Grist’ calling the notes to the pops and bangs of the anti-lag systems.
At the heart of the game is the sheer fun of driving flat out and not worrying about paying for the damage. The stages are superb and contain all manner of bends to be found on real stages. From racing through villages on the Monte, the sweeping forest tracks of New Zealand to the twisty roads of Corsica (where much use of the handbrake is required – definitely an acquired skill!). You even encounter the odd spectator or two (probably watching for an ‘off’). Unfortunately, can’t run them over though – tried!
The only disappointment as far as I’m concerned – no Rally Of Finland. There are however strong rumours of a Colin McRae Rally 2 with expected release in autumn 1999.
All in all the game lives up to the expectations made up of it. There’s plenty of action, plenty of stages (52 in all over 8 countries) and if your short of the necessary to compete in the real thing – buy this!. The best rally game on the PC? – "no problem!"
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