Colin McRae Rally 2005
When seeing this title amongst the other assignments, a lot of memories started coming back because this game symbolizes my first year as Fragland reviewer. I wrote something about Colin Mcrae 4 as an application test in which I seemed to have succeeded. Now, almost a year later, its follow-up is laying on my desk. Who would not start thinking about the changes in his life then? How saying a few simple words and some support of friendly but determined people lead to one of the greatest changes for game-kind … I mean for myself but I did not realize the effect of things decided up until now. Luckily, I did get an opportunity to think about how fortunate I am. A fortune of which I hope will it never go away. Happy Fragday to me!
Furiously impatient I was bashing on the x-button to skip the intro stuff because I wanted to start playing immediately. It stopped at a screen about saving: “yes, yes of course I want to bloody continue!”. Hmmm, after I pressed the x again and again without reading the supporting text which had now appeared three times I felt I had to scan the few lines: “Not sufficient free space on my memory card. Oh, for crying out loud.” You know the drill: reboot, take the disk out, navigate to your card and start browsing through thirty saves looking for the ones you can delete. Once again, my patience ran out with as a result that I erased everything except for the Richard Burns Rally profile. Close the lid and off we go but was this a sign from the sky trying to say something?
As it was the career which interested me most in this new episode I checked that out first. I couldn’t believe it but “BillieTurf” was still too long a name to pick! Come on guys, those few characters aren’t going to kill the performance hey. Anyway, I was hoping that the career would also feature something like you being a teenager and having to learn how to drive but it is all about plain rallying with some unlockable tests to upgrade your car. Loyal fans of the series will notice that the tests are very much the same as the ones from its predecessor.
However, that is not the only item for which they didn’t take the time to innovate: repairing and adjusting your car hasn’t changed either. It is still very important to choose the right tyres if you intend to win though, but I have been doing that since Colin Mcrae 2! I didn’t like driving the car either actually as it doesn’t feel like I am controlling a fast-paced rally vehicle anymore which still was the case when I played CM4 last year. It is not that you can simply win everything on the hardest difficulty immediately but handling your car is too easy, too arcade. Initiating and controlling a Scandinavian flic, for example, costs no effort at all and you can/have to push the pedal to the metal all the time if you want to win. Of course, you aren’t learning an eighty-year old man how to drive but if you go fast, you should be confronted with the consequences of high speeds too.
Graphics, on the PS2 version that is, haven’t improved that much but I did not feel as if that was necessary either. The cars and tracks are enjoyable enough to believe you are racing in a real world. However, I could not stop thinking that they had to lower everything whilst playing online, which is still bothered with lag after all. Therefore, I like the pc version better as that one can dispose of the necessary infrastructure to make things work. Don’t get me wrong, racing online is so much more exciting and fun. The other opponents are ghosts but they start at the same time so you do feel like you have some competition but you can still drive your best lanes without having to overtake which is quite hard on a rally track. Excellent solution for this dilemma, I would say.
Another thing that disturbs me is the lousy controller set-up. I want to race with both analog sticks but you can’t handbrake with L or R buttons which is quite irritating even if you only need to use it rarely.
The co-driver wouldn’t stay in my service more than one rally either because he doesn’t know when to read the right notes. Easy left, hard right, medium left into jump and then a long silence followed by another sum up after you’ve passed the corners. I came to a point where I just looked at the road myself and stopped paying attention to his findings.
Although I spend more paragraphs writing about the things I dislike, I don’t want to claim that this game sucks. Sound and graphics are pretty much okay, they’ve paid attention to nifty details like extra movies, a trailer from their next snooker game, background info like Richard Burns’ nickname being The Flying Scotsman and you can still drive championships, single rallies, time trials or race in a multiplayer. In addition, you get online possibilities, lots of tracks (some parts will be familiar which is really amusing) and a career mode which definitely contributes to the time you will be playing before getting too bored. Although Colin Mcrae has always been my number one rally game, it seems that now Richard Burns Rally has set the new standard for me.
If you want a decent rally game with loads of details, modes, cars and tracks then Colin Mcrae 2005 won’t disappoint you but nowadays its driving isn’t much of the challenge I am looking for anymore.