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Colin McRae Rally Review

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“…a happy testament to a real racing classic!”

Recently, the spawn of a true classic found its way onto the Steam marketplace, and I found it impossible to resist the nostalgia trip which lay before my eyes. In a shiny new form bringing all new glory to a once great series, Colin McRae Rally has made a return to our lives! This is a franchise that most of us in our gaming lifetimes have probably had some experience with, and as the Steam marketplace page boasts has received excellent critical acclaim to this point along its lengthy journey. Fans will undoubtedly jump with joy at the friendly £4.99 price tag which has been attached to one of the all time racing genre greats, and of course if you are reading this review then you too will be dying to know if it is still as good a franchise to play in as it ever was. So, have the developers and publishers at Codemasters kept alive this awesome blast from the past and done it justice in its refreshed form? Read on…

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One thing to be pleased about if you are a fan of this game from the first time around is that not too much of the basic structure of the game has changed. Things look better, clearer and far more polished that they did before, but the way in which the game plays is essentially the same. Physics feel as though they have been improved upon, but the excitement and wildness of the game remain. You still have to panic if you overshoot a turn, and you will still find yourself yelling incomprehensibly at the screen on that final stretch after you have totalled your car twenty times over. Of course, if you are actually quite good at the game then you won’t have that exact experience, but the point remains that the game has all the pace and thrill that it ever did.

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The look of the game in is very much improved upon the original. The cars, the scenery, the instructions, the menus, the tracks and even the fans now look like what they actually are, which of course is a good thing. You can always play the game in its low graphics detail setting however if you want that more nostalgic look to things. The only spot the developers seem to have missed is the bottom of your car, but unless you are doing the mad flips that only cutting dangerous corners can cause, it is more than likely that you will never notice. The graphical improvements are definitely a major plus to the game and the franchise. It makes it much easier to now see what is coming your way, to understand the on-screen instructions during a rally, and generally compliments the quality of the rest of the game.

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Some elements of the game have been handled less well however. For one, there is no tutorial level for you to learn the ropes. The first rally competition is explicitly very easy so that you can figure this out, however it is possible to complete this without anything more than the arrow keys and still come out on top, so the controls to break for example may remain a mystery. In fact, for much of the game you do not even need advanced controls which go beyond these directional buttons, which does leave you begging at least in the early races for a greater challenge. The test of rally driving is intended to challenge a driver’s ability to move quickly in a more difficult environment to the open road. If there is no true challenge element to this, it makes it hard to fully believe and by into the experience…

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One element which is not essentially a negative and is in fact true to the original game is there are only a few different rally events to take part in and cars to drive, which can make the game seem limited. However, the different tracks and cars each have unique elements which make them explicitly different to drive, so whilst the options are limited the variety is there. The most irritating issue with the game however is all of the INDESTRUCTIBLE BUSHES! This is common place in older, and even some newer, games true enough, but if you can’t rally through some twigs it does take away from the experience. The trees also turn around and watch you as you drive, which is slightly disconcerting and unnerving… Otherwise there is only one little issue, and that is the game’s track information. It attempts to be immersive by telling you the consistency of the track in each rally, but you cannot in fact customise the car or change its capability to handle these tracks in any way. This, sadly, makes this element pretty little bit irrelevant .

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Colin McRae Rally in its new and improved form feels like something of a half-way house between the original title and what a modern day version of such a game might feel like. There are very visible improvements which have been made to the franchise compared to its predecessors, and the game is certainly better for them. The nostalgic title has been brought forwards well and refreshed nicely without changing the original experience beyond recognition. It is a good update then, but perhaps not one which did everything that it could to bring Colin McRae Rally forward to what a modern audience might expect. For fans of the original however, the rejuvenation of the series is a happy testament to a real racing classic!

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The Good:

  • A fantastic, refreshed look laid upon the chassis of the original classic series.
  • The exciting experience which the game’s predecessors offered still remains.
  • Easier controls and instructional play make the game easy to jump right into.
  • Good level of recognisable variety between different cars and tracks.

The Bad:

  • No tutorial level means learning the ropes is up to you to trial and error.
  • Some may find the game limited.
  • Control is often too easy to feel like a true-to-life rally driving simulation.
  • Track info tries to be immersive but lack of customisation makes it irrelevant.
  • INDESTRUCTIBLE BUSHES! and the trees watch you…

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Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.

Rating:
3/5
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