Colin McRae Rally 3
Ok, got myself a drink and put on the newest Missy Elliot album and I’m ready to review one of the hottest games of the moment which my girlfriend got me for my birthday: Colin McRae rally 3.
Codemasters found themselves a nice franchise with the CMR series, certainly based on a man that has only won one World Title. I’m guessing that has something to do with the qualities of the series. CMR 1 was a hit and proved to be a good game as well and the successor CMR 2.0 was the best rally game that I ever saw until a few months ago. With the release of the new consoles, some good rally games came out and 2.0 was just too old to compete. We all want our console games to push the limits of the system don’t we? Lucky for us the newest version, CMR 3, has hit the shelves and is ready to be compared to other games.
When you start the game it immediately shows that no half work has been done: impressive movie, cool interface and a catchy tune. Nothing wrong up to that point and that’s a success nowadays when you see some of the games that get released too early.
The first surprise when looking through the options is the lack of an arcade option. A search on the net teaches me that this is a choice made by the developers to make the game more serious and get a greater support with the WRC fans. In my opinion this is a commercial mistake since most of the gamers out there are into a quick fun race rather than a simulation. If it weren’t the CMR series, this would be commercial suicide, but Codemasters is confident this game will be a hit. Personally, I don’t mind cause I like a real rally game now and then.
Actually we only get two options: Championship and Stages.
In Championship you race with Colin himself in his Focus over more then 3 seasons and this on tracks in Spain, UK, Greece, USA, Japan, Sweden, Australia and Finland. When you start a championship you get to test out your car on a small circuit and adjust the settings but as usual, the default settings are the best for starters. Don’t try other settings until you can handle the car perfectly. You can choose the difficulty and every race start is animated nicely which adds to the atmosphere. What’s weird is that you are forced to race as Colin in his Focus WRC; this is a real shame because the RGP element limits the Championship options a lot.
In Stages you can race all of the (unlocked) stages with all cars, no Peugeots though. You can go split screen (but you can’t see each other) multiplayer or choose for racing in turns.
As most fans know, this is a ps2 title so don’t expect top notch graphics that will blow away Rallisport Challenge. Except for the perfect car model and the complete damageable car nothing matches that game in graphics. This does not mean its ugly, far from, but it’s sad to see the possibilities of this console unused. The weather effects, landscape and car getting dirty effects are nice and can compete with Gran Turismo 3.
All the cars handle perfectly and this is the game’s advantage over other games: realistic gameplay. Describing every detail would be a bit too much but I’ll give you one: Cars pull their rear back on to the track if you accelerate in a turn when you are loosing controls, just like the real deal.
The controller does a nice job for once and it takes a long time before the old thumb is hurting
A small downside is that, sometimes, it’s very confusing where the track goes. Try Australia and you’ll see what I mean.
Last remark is the old a-small-rock-will-stop-me-at-200-kmph that haunts so many games is also present here. You can take the biggest commercial boards but a simple warning sign can stop you instantly. A single time I got stuck in a small ditch next to the road.
When comparing the sounds to other games, Colin McRae comes out as the winner easily. Everything is as it should be and even more. In automatic transmission you can make the box crack, the motor goes in overdrive when you take a jump. Yep it’s all there.
The co-pilot’s speech is phenomenal, every bump is mapped and I didn’t catch one flaw.
To conclude: CMR3 doesn’t add a single thing to the genre, but if you want the best racing experience out there, get this game. If you look for graphics and a bit of fun arcade, go for Rallisport Challenge.