Colin McRae Rally 2005

Colin McRae Rally 2005 is one in a series of rally games that have been sporadically released here in the States. McRae himself is out of the World Rally Championship these days, but the game offers the steady, clear and crisp voice of his former co-driver Nicky Grist to guide you through varied stages built exclusively for this experience.

18Immediately noticeable is how the menu design and overall game progression are that of a console game. The game is most comfortable played with an analog gamepad, just like those of the TV game machines. Solo gameplay revolves around either a championship or a large career mode. The career is a strong set of unique challenges and rally events where you earn new cars and stages by performing at your best. It’s long and sometimes too easy and tedious on normal difficulty, but the designers smartly included a harder option as well as excellent GameSpy-driven online play built right in.

Driving these cars is an exercise in cautious speed. With trees lining the road, one wrong move puts a big damper on your stage time. It’s a hoot ripping through the forest at 80MPH. While the game has visible damage to your car, the minimal loss of performance from collisions encourages almost-reckless driving. Crashes are a downer, because the cars just don’t get airborne enough, or just plain break. It’s almost impossible to make the car roll, something real rally cars have no problem doing.

Taken as a straight-up arcade-style racing game, Colin McRae Rally 2005 is a fine product. It features varied terrain and beautiful car models that look gorgeous. It has enough car setup options for an amateur to handle, and they do have a significant effect on your ability to succeed. You must be able to both saw on the wheel, and prepare for conditions. Simulation fans won’t go wild for it, but this is perfect for everyone else to go fast through the countryside.

System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 3.3 GB HDD WinXP

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