Colin McRae makes his second Xbox appearance in 2004, and while the core game hasn't changed much, there are enough extras to keep most racers happy.
Without the Colin McRae Rally series, rally racing would be virtually unknown in the United States. Well, technically, this extreme version of motorsport is simply ignored by the vast majority of American racing fans. Nonetheless, the Colin McRae series has managed to find a niche in the American gaming market with a consistent string of quality games that satisfy off-road racing fans and gearhead tweakers alike. Colin McRae Rally 4, released a scant seven months ago here in North America, was notable for its improved graphics, nominal online features, and, possibly best of all, budget price. Colin McRae Rally 2005 ups the ante--if only a bit--with improved online play, an interesting career mode, and the same solid driving model fans of the series have come to love.
Before we get to the new features, let's take a look at what hasn't changed. Most importantly, the driving model that fans of the series have come to depend on is still rock-solid in CMR2005. It chooses to err on the side of driving simulation, as the series has always done, which means the game is not a simple pick-up-and-play experience for those new to the series. If it's your first time in a rally car, you might be surprised at how demanding the cars can be to drive. Expect to spend large amounts of time offtrack in muddy embankments and playing kissy-face with the numerous trees that line the courses. This is rally racing, after all, where no road surface is taboo: Smooth asphalt, muddy gravel, and even frozen ice are all fair game, sometimes all within the same race. The experienced driver knows how to tackle each surface to get the most out of his or her car.
The vehicles in CMR2005, of which there are more than 30, have a tangible sense of weight that is especially noticeable when making jumps. There are no floaty physics here, as the cars require a tremendous amount of speed to get airborne and quite literally slam to the ground when they land--the sense of suspension trauma is noticeable and thrilling, especially when using the cockpit view. Once you gain some proficiency with the cars, you'll find your fingers constantly flicking across the Xbox controller, making minor adjustments subconsciously in an effort to keep your car moving forward as quickly as possible. Car control in CMR2005 is a delicate dance between steering corrections with the left thumbstick, throttle and brake adjustments with either the two shoulder buttons or the right thumbstick (the former being preferred over the latter for optimal car control), and subtle, timely gear shifts with the X and A buttons to keep your revs as high as possible. If you don't like the default controller configuration, the game lets you customize each button on the controller.
Though the best-known rally cars are the highly tuned 4WD models--the Subaru Impreza WRX, the Lancer Evolution VIII, the Peugeot 206, and the Ford Focus, among others--CMR2005 has a great number of classic and lesser-known rally cars, including 2WD models such as the VW Polo, the Citroën Saxo, and the VW Golf GTi; classic models such as the Ford Escort Cosworth and the Toyota Celica GT-Four; and oddities such as the Mini Cooper S and even a Nissan pickup based on the model McRae himself drove in the 2004 Paris-Dakar Rally. Notably missing from the game's car list is the Toyota Corolla, a model that found a good deal of real-life rallying success in the late 1990s.
As you might expect, cars from disparate classes feel quite different from one another, as there is a great deal of performance difference between an Audi A3 and a Mini Cooper S. What's interesting in CMR2005 is the diversity in handling between cars of the same performance class. The 2WD VW Polo, for instance, seems to have slower acceleration off the line than the MG ZR, also a 2WD. Though both cars have the same horsepower, their difference in weight (the MG ZR being about 220 pounds lighter) seems to account for the difference in acceleration. However, these differences blur when driving the top-class 4WD cars, as they are practically identical in terms of horsepower, weight, and engine displacement. Most of the cars in the game can be unlocked by winning rallies in the career mode.
Diverse car selection means little without a lot of different tracks to drive all the cars on. Here CMR2005 delivers in spades, with nine rally events available: UK, Sweden, Finland, Australia, Spain, Japan, Greece, USA, and the newly introduced German course. Each event includes eight drivable courses, though certain stages must be unlocked. While the majority of the stages are the type of traditional point-to-point circuits so familiar to rally fans, certain events include a Super Special course, which is essentially a complicated enclosed course in which two rally drivers compete head-to-head for supremacy. These SS courses can play an integral role in the outcome of a rally, as they give you an opportunity to take on your closest rival "in person" in an effort to pull out a win.
While the individual stages change from one version of CMR to the next, the characteristics of each rally event have remained true-to-life throughout the series. As in previous versions, the Finland rally event in CMR2005 is blindingly quick, full of harrowing hairpin turns in dense forest, full-throttle gravel straights, and some of the most dramatic jumps in the world. Greece, on the other hand, is a test of endurance both for the driver and the car. Heavy gravel, narrow roads with precipitous drop-offs, tire-eating stones half-hidden in the roadway, and absolutely atrocious road conditions, all hallmarks of the real Rally of Greece, are represented with dramatic flair in CMR2005. Rally driving in Sweden means running on combinations of mud and ice, dealing with snow embankments that can easily swallow your car (and add seconds to your time), and negotiating the slick surface of an iced-over stream, all while peering through your windshield during a driving snowstorm.
- Player Reviews: 9
- Game Universe:
- Colin McRae Rally (PC, PS, GBC),
- Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (PC, PS),
- Colin McRae Rally 3 (PC, PS2, XBOX, GC),
- Colin McRae Rally 04 (PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Colin McRae Rally 2005 (PS2, XBOX, PC, NGE, MOBILE, PSP),
- DiRT (PC, X360, PS3),
- DiRT 2 (X360, PS3, PC, WII, DS, PSP, MAC),
- TOCA Race Driver 2 with Colin McRae Rally 04 (XBOX),
- Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (GBA)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
8 Players Online