Colin McRae Rally 3 review
On the PlayStation (PSone) there were many, many, rally games, but one series stood out; the Colin McRae Rally series from Codemasters. Colin McRae Rally and Colin McRae Rally 2.0 led the genre, and their only real competition came from the V-Rally series. Now on the PlayStation 2 we also already have a load of rally games, but only V-Rally 3 as stood out as something worth playing. That is until now, as Colin McRae Rally 3 arrives on the PS2.
Being the first version on the PlayStation 2, there is quite a step up from the previous instalment. The most obvious improvement is the graphics; Colin is now fully curved and smoothed, and this next-gen outing is indeed rather impressive to look at. The mud and the ice splattering are now standard effects among rally games, but CMR3 just goes one better. Not only do those effects look more real than any offering, but the rainstorms that arrive blur your screen, and you can see the drops pelt your windscreen in first-person view. The weather is truly something in CMR3. Not only that, but the cars themselves now boast thousands more polygons than ever before, so those detailed cars just became ever more accurate and it is amazing the amount of detail the artists at Codemasters go into. Ever shape, every logo, every word, in clear-to-read form, and as genuine as the real thing. The soundings too, are of a high-standard, although the crowd do seem a little flat. The draw-distance is also something you need worry little about, and the frame rate pulls along rather nicely. The rally games should always have the visual advantage over other racers, because there's usually only one car on screen at a time.
One thing that has always pleased me about this series is the handling. It always seems to be one of the Codies' last things they do during production, with pre-finished copies containing worrying handling. My play at ECTS back in August worried me slightly (although I still preferred it over WRCII: Extreme), but this has since been finely tuned, and does not let us down. This is a fundamental factor, and so when CMR3 does it right, you know you've got a good game on your hands. A side from being good to control, the game is enjoyable. Sliding around the courses, cranking off those seconds is a real test of skill, although non-rally fans may still miss the lack of other cars to race against. However, there are some special stages to enjoy; some one-on-ones with another car around a special course that finally sees some action for the AI, who is usually off producing times for you to beat in the normal rallies. The experience is as real as the World Rally Championship, as you take Colin and the Ford Rallye team through a WRC Season, travelling around the world and taking on many courses.
I've already mentioned about the special stages and the championship season, but CMR3 also boasts the standard time trial and single rally modes, as well as the now-important racing tradition; multiplayer. You get to enjoy the standard split-screen mode, which takes place on one of the aforementioned special stages, or there's the option to take turns. Here both players use controller one, and get a turn at a standard one-car rally. Both players are competing for top times, along with their AI counterparts. It's like the championship mode, only two of you are involved.
Sound-wise CMR3 does not let-down. The roars and the crashes are audio-perfect, and the menu music is also worthy of inclusion. The voice-overs from co-driver Nicky Grist are also impressive and guide you through the action perfectly. Another job well done by the guys at Codemasters
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