You can’t fault Codemasters for playing it safe. While most casual race fans are sitting comfy with Dice’s Rallisport Challenge series, Colin McRae Rally 2005 aspires to cater mostly to the hardcore gamer in mind. You say you want more challenges? Done. New classes? Check. And how about online play? It’s all covered. Tapping into the same formula which made last year’s edition an exceptional success, Codemasters latest installment may end up running laps around the competition.
Wow, that’s quite a bit of hyperbole.
Not really. After all, most fans consider Codemasters rally franchise as one of the most definitive racing simulations on the market. This year’s version is faster, tougher and one of the most challenging editions to date. The online component adds a significant level of thrills and multiplayer perks, which until now, have been absent from the franchise. Players can face off against 7 other competitors through the dusty backroads of Spain, Greece, Finland, Japan and several other countries.
As expressed earlier, this year’s version will push player’s skills to the fullest. Take the Career Challenge for example, featuring a variety of car classes including 2- and 4-wheel drive and super drive, respectively. Colin features an extensive roster of cars including the Subaru Impreza 44S WRX and MG 6R4. But don’t think for a moment that you’ll be able to get behind the wheel of a Mitsubushi Lancer Evo right off the bat. You’ll start off at the bottom rung with a Volvo VW and need to work your way up to the top, unlocking new vehicles and stages along the way. Thankfully, Colin 05 breaks the tedium of linear play by allowing players to access any of the 20 individual rally events in whichever method they choose. And with over 300 stages included in the full version, we appreciate the freedom to do as we please very much. Now if only we could manage to unlock a few additional cars for our garage.
Undoubtedly, Codemasters has been fine-tuning their craft, as evidenced by the updated realistic physics engine that takes into account even the lightest scrapes on a vehicles paintwork. Furthermore, the stages also feature interactive scenery including a stun effect that occurs for a short period when you collide with a tree. Although the stages don’t offer the same visual splendor as Rallisport Challenge 2, but you’ll be hard pressed to dismiss subtle touches like the various weather effects, and the leaves rustling in the distance as you zoom through the tarmac. The game also features an all-new bonnet cam allowing you to admire your personal vehicles before and after taking them out on the road.
Is that all that’s under the hood?
Well, no...the game also offers an extensive customization system for obsessive types that love to trick out their cars with new rims, tires, suspension, and spoilers will feel right at home here. Plus, the new bonnet cam allows you to sit back and gaze at your new hotness.
Although it wasn’t accessible in our current build, players will be able to create their own racer and go through the ropes, ultimately facing off against the legendary Colin McRae himself in a battle for the championship cup.
Colin McRae Rally 05 may not carry the same level of hype and anticipation as Gran Turismo 4, but racing enthusiasts have yet another remarkable online game to enjoy on Xbox Live this Fall season. Look for its release this week on Xbox, PS2 and PC platforms.