Colin McRae Rally 3
Review of Colin McRae Rally 3
Colin McRea Rally series has been the biggest name in the video games rally world for years and this is the first incarnation on PS2 and the first McRea game in 2 and a half years.
The two incarnations on the original playstation have made this Codemasters franchise in to the undisputed Daddy when it comes to rally games and I will hold my hands up right now to the fact that I loved them both and I am still impressed by how good they are. So as you can guess I was expecting great things from this long awaited game.
The disk spins up and the game advises you that ought to create an autosave. The opening scenes are so drab you just want to hit start straight away, only to find the most basic of front end menus.
For the purposes of game play you can enter championship and stages. Stages is a time trial where you can play 1 or 2 player and you only have one stage from every country available. You must play championship to unlock the remaining stages and a selection of cars to go mental in.
Championship sees you contracted to drive for Ford for 3 years – in 6 rallies per year – there are 8 rallies in total – one changes in each subsequent year.
You have no choice as to the difficulty level – so you must begin on normal. Further difficulties are unlocked as you win the championship each year.
So you get in to the first rally and the movie just looks like the hi-res ones used in CMR2. Then the scene is set in servicing where the mechanics prepare you machine for battle. However I would advice playing with the setting somewhat as the Focus is more J-Lo than Kylie (lots of arse) and loves to step out of line in the standard setting.
You check the car out on the shakedown and all is wonderful – but the problems are yet to come.
Remember that autosave?
Yup – once you start the rally the game saves and there is no going back – you realise that the settings are wrong as the shakedown doesn’t typify the stages and you can’t restart the rally – you can only go forward – and since there is no single rallies and only the first stage in the time trial you have had little practice.
Then there are the pace notes – well, all I can say is that its not a bit wonder that Grist no longer partners McRea in the real world. In some instances the notes are so bad that he is calling corners you have already passed, and if you are going fast enough he misses notes altogether. If this were for real any driver would pull over and tell the navigator – if I am driving blind then I don’t need the dead weight, get the hell out!
I could go on but I will sum up the other problems here:
· You can’t enter any cars other than the Focus in the Championship
· You have only the championship and stages options for rallying in – no single rallies.
· The autosave is an absolute curse
· The traditional CMR problems of the top six drivers being 10 seconds apart on the stages (when you are doing well) continues
· You are not informed of your place in the rally – except at the start of the next stage and this is so brief it does not give you time to compare the competition.
· Championship stage times are not added to the High Scores.
· Servicing is done automatically and you have no control over it – so important parts are not fixed. And what service crew would send its rally drivers out without changing the tyres?
· You are not given the option of the wondeful semi-auto gearbox in Stages mode, nor are you given the chance to set up the cars.
· The Focus is the only car in World Rally livery and McRea and Grist are the only names from the World Rally Championship to be included in the game.
Ok so this looks like a slating but I have never reviewed a more schizophrenic game. Some of it is wonderful and genre defining and some it totally terrible.
The Graphics is a good place to start – Japan is beautiful and the rain effects are jaw dropping, then you have Finland which is just a tarted up PSone game. It’s bland and the trees, bridges and mountains pup up in middle to close distance. You can see through the hillsides at times and when you hit a tree – it disappears until you reverse back a few feet – but be careful as you may now have one behind you! I am not joking, I truly wish I was.
The car sounds are great, the pace notes, as mentioned earlier, are not – and what is a rally game without good pace notes?
Now for the truly wondrous aspects of the game.
The car is a dream - technically. The physics engine used is fantastic, the car never seems to float and the wheels spin the way you would expect. Handling is a bit iffy – but that seems to be the Focus as other cars in the game are much better to drive. Besides which, when doing donuts you can cause the rear tyres to explode off the rims. This is unusual in a racing game and comes as quite a surprise.
The game also includes a semi-automatic gearbox. This changes up and down for you as a normal auto box, but gives you the ability to override the auto to brake quicker and to reduce wheelspin. Once you get used to this, you will never want to go back to normal manual or auto choices again.
The game tries to get a feel for real rallying by letting the Championship leader be first on the road in each rally. Lovely – but you can’t match your times and since past times are not held in the records, you cannot compare yourself against your record.
As the seasons continue, you unlock parts to improve the car, e.g. 2003 spec chassis for second season. The more sceptical amongst you may wonder at the way items such as wet tyres and studded tyres are unlocked before the wet or snow rallies.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Colin McRae Rally 3' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Rory Kelly © Absolute PlayStation
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