Colin McRae Rally 3
Codemasters' finest racing action goes number three.
It really is a two horse race as far as realistic rallying games go. You have your WRC and, the daddy of the field, Mr Colin McRae. I’m not saying all the other rallying games aren’t good, just that they are more catered for the tastes of the occasional gamer, who likes to pick up a racing game from time to time and beat everyone hands down. As brilliant as Colin McRae is, it definitely isn’t designed for your average novice gamer to master in minutes. I warn you now not to go any further unless you’ve the commitment and enthusiasm to get to grips with the games complexities. So, what does this new outing have to offer us then? In the way of game modes it is actually very sparse. You only have championship mode and stage mode. In stage mode you can race on a large number of rallying tracks with 2 players or just on your own (practicing in a dark room ready for the rallying championship). The Championship mode takes you through a typical Colin McRae racing season, which involves 6 stages in each country. The tracks are varied and your car can take a lot of punishment on some of those tight bends so after 3 stages you get the chance to repair some of your car if you have failed to fine tune your car correctly on the opening day. You also have special stages where you get to race against another driver’s best time. Sounds quite complex, well it is. It is not a game you can pick up for a quick five-minute blast, it will drag you in and consume you. These limited but impressive game play options are supported by absolutely wonderful graphics. It is so difficult to know where to start. What makes it so incredible to look at is the combination of weather effects, track details, car detail, car damage and varied camera views. A prime example would be driving in Finland with the snow falling down onto your windscreen as your wipers swish hypnotically and you slam sideways into a tight hairpin watching a snowmobile drive past on one side. I had to step back and slap myself several times to convince myself I wasn’t actually driving. You can’t help but get submerged in these truly orgasmic visuals. It is unfortunate then that the game is so hard to master and you only receive bonuses when you win (as the manual says “second place is nothing!”) it can get incredibly disheartening. After spending several hours practicing I managed a few first places but I found myself getting increasingly annoyed with the noise of the engine. It is quite whiney and this combined with the fact that there is no soundtrack during the races the only thing to stop you going insane is the friendly tone of the co-driver. But this is a minor gripe. Has this game moved on from Colin McRae 2? Not substantially, but why mess with something that ain’t broke, and this seems to be the philosophy of Codemasters who have just tweaked the championship mode and added some bonus features to give extra motivation for completing this game. Will it manage to beat WRC? It is going to take a hell of a lot to get near this game and Colin McRae is rapidly monopolising the rally genre. Keep up the good work Codemasters, remember folks, if this got any more addictive then they’d just have to throw away the key to my cell.