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Colin McRae Rally 2005 (Windows)

81
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Andy Voss (1636)
Written on  :  Feb 06, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars

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Summary

On road, off road.. whatever you can drive through, CMR delivers it

The Good

  • Loading time is surprisingly fast for the tracks, at least on my Athlon 64.
  • Overall, the landscape scenery is breathtaking. Lighting and shadows are almost photo-realistic. Each tree, each rock, heck, even each *blade of grass* is right there where you would expect them. And yet, thanks to creative texture, frame rates are still quite good.
  • The replays add to the realism. The default camera view is a series of spot and chase cams every five seconds or so, like a TV broadcast. You definitely see more detail, from the dirt on your car to the signs you pass by.
  • Some of the environmental sounds are great - especially a rainstorm with thunder, on a surround sound setup.
  • Car exterior models are just about perfect. Paint jobs and decals are pretty true to the originals.
  • The driving physics are pretty good as far as console games go. You can tweak most of your car's components to get different results.
  • The co-driver calls, once you figure out their lingo, are indeed helpful and separate the rally genre from other racing games. I just wish I didn't have to install all the driver voice packs, and save a gigabyte or two on my hard drive!
  • The game came on DVD-ROM. It's silly that games today still come on CD-ROM, when they take up 5+ discs and no modern gamer PC is without a DVD drive.

The Bad

  • Car specs aren't very detailed. You get engine size, weight, horsepower, and not much else. Gear specs, acceleration and other performance, and details about upgraded parts are missing, and they'd all be useful in helping you choose which cars to race with.
  • Car repair times are a bit unrealistic. Because there's no monetary element in the game, you're given up to one hour after stage, with a time penalty for more. Each damaged component adds to the time, but the amount of damage does not. I can see how it wouldn't matter for tires (just change them), but a severely damaged engine or suspension should take much longer than one that is barely scratched.
  • There is no water detail. As far as I've seen, water isn't even animated. Surely there should be some splashing in the game.
  • I realize the menus and interface design are intentionally minimalist, but they can get quite dull. Text resolution doesn't go higher than the console versions, which makes the menus a bit fuzzy on high-res PCs.

The Bottom Line

First off, if you're not familiar with rally games, this is a slightly different beast than your Need For Speed or your Gran Turismo. Yeah, you pick your courses and unlock slick looking rides. And you are racing against other cars - just not at the same time. Each car runs solo and gets timed. There's really no room for two cars on most of these courses anyway. But, you do get a co-driver who helps navigate you through twists and turns. Sure, the game could let you ram other drivers into a ditch, but then it would lose the realism which makes it a sporting simulation.

This game *begs* to be played with a steering wheel, and one with force feedback. I'm not quite ready to shell out $100 for a good one just yet, but if you want a pro-driving experience, pick one up and actually feel the jumps and bumps. You might end up getting a racing helmet as well.

After a month in Europe, CMR05 debuted in the US with a surprisingly low retail price of $20. I was thinking of finally checking out the Colin McRae series, and that sealed the deal. But good luck finding a copy in the states these days, the supply seemed to dry up quickly.