Colin McRae Rally 2005 E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

The 2005 edition of Codemasters' long-running rally series is the first to feature online play on both the PS2 and Xbox.

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Announced just two weeks before E3, Colin McRae Rally 2005 is the first game in Codemasters' long-running rally series to feature online play. The game is currently in development for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and no matter which version of the game you buy you'll be able to enjoy racing against up to seven other players.

Despite the addition of online play, the primary focus of Colin McRae Rally 2005 will still be very much on its single-player career mode, which has been the subject of a major overhaul this time around. Starting out as an amateur rally driver, you'll have to prove yourself before you're even allowed to get behind the wheel of the more powerful cars in the game, and by the time you reach the end of your career, you'll have raced in no fewer than 23 events comprising a total of more than 300 stages. The vehicles in the game will be just as varied as the scenery, and to succeed you'll need to master the different handling characteristics of 4-wheel drive, 2-wheel drive, 4-wheel classic, super 2-wheel, rear-wheel, distinctive, and 4x4 classic vehicles. Specific models confirmed for inclusion to date include the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, Audi Sport Quattro, Ford RS200, Volkswagen Golf MK5, Toyota Celica VVTLi, Lancia Stratos, VW Beetle RSi, and M-Sport Freelander Rallye. As in last year's game, you'll be able to earn upgrades for your car by successfully completing "parts challenge" events.

Each of the vehicles in the game will have its own damage model and will be susceptible to everything from paintwork scrapes to panels falling off completely if you hit one too many rocks, potholes, or other on-stage hazards. It won't just be your car that takes the hits this time around, though; trackside posts will break, trees will shudder and drop leaves, and you'll experience a "dazed" visual effect as you recover from high-speed crashes.

Colin McRae Rally is currently scheduled for release this fall.

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