reviews\ Nov 8, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Colin McRae 2.0 - GBA - Review

The racing genre has never been overly popular on the Game Boy systems, mainly due to the platforms' limited technology.  Game Boy Advance is powerful enough to produce 3D games, but most developers have not been able to maximize the system's power and take full advantage of it.  Because of this, the majority of the games released for Game Boy Advance are 2D.  Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is no exception.  This pint-sized version of the old PSone title is by far the most rally-like racing game ever released on the GBA.

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 has a couple of notable features.  Before every race in Championship mode, the game informs you of the type of terrain you'll be racing on: gravel, mud, etc.  Next, you'll be given the option to change your tires to match the terrain!  While not as noticeable as in RalliSport Challenge, there is definitely a difference in the way the car handles with each tire and terrain type.

Players can also edit the steering (make it higher or lower), suspension, gearbox, power ratio, brake power and brake bias.

The aspect of Colin McRae Rally 2.0 that deserves the most praise would have to be the controls.  Most 2D rally racing games play exactly the same as regular racing games, only with looser steering.  Colin McRae Rally 2.0, on the other hand, controls more like a console rally racing game.  Some gamers may feel that the steering is a tad too slippery, but that's how the game is supposed be (assuming the developers were going for realism, which they apparently were).  The vehicles turn pretty fast, making it easy to over-turn and spin out, especially when driving on a slippery surface (which you do quite frequently in this game).  As your vehicle spins out, trees and road blocks are the only things capable of stopping it quickly, reminding you that it's better to turn lightly to avoid endless crashing.

Graphically, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 looks like every other Game Boy Advance racing game, except for the vehicles, which are slightly impressive.  All of the backgrounds are 2D backdrops, though I must say that they do look fairly decent considering the dated technology used to create them.  The trees are another thing worth mentioning, as they are actual objects that you can interact with, not just a 2D sprite used for visual enhancement.  What really stands out (and not by much) is the vehicles, which look very solid.  When the vehicles spin out, you'll be impressed by how smooth the animation is -- no choppy, single-frame motion here!  The cars appear to be made up of polygons, looking slightly three-dimensional, though I doubt that they are.  Take a closer look at the vehicles and you'll notice that as impressive as they are, they don't have a whole lot of detail.

The main problem with Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is that its track design is nearly identical to every other Game Boy Advance game out there.  This is not entirely the developer's fault; without a 3D engine, racing games cannot play much different from each other.  There are various things that can be done to help alleviate this, mainly altering the control scheme, which the developers did very well.  But when you're driving down the same bland, two-dimensional road for several minutes, and then before you know it, several hours, it comes to the point where you wish that the game had something more to offer.  At the GBA's launch, games like this were acceptable.  They were new, fairly unique and most importantly, they were a new experience that people hadn't had on the small screen.  Now that I've had this experience multiple times, I want something fresh, something new.

If it weren't for the $30 price tag, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 would be a decent buy for diehard McRae fans and any gamer who does not already own a racing game for Game Boy Advance.  Granted, you can't get a better racing game for less, but you can get several other superior games for only twenty bucks.  Diehard racing fans may not want "another" kind of game though.  In that case, pick up Colin McRae Rally 2.0 from your local rental shop.  If its gameplay keeps your engine running, then head over to your local video game dealership and put a down payment on a shiny new copy of Colin McRae Rally 2.0.  Make sure that it's what you really want before making a purchase, because its worth depreciates more than 50% the minute you drive it off the shelf.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 6.8
Turn left, turn right, turn left, turn right...  While fun at first, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 gets old pretty fast.  This is entirely due to the track design, which, as proven many times before, can make or break a racing game.

Graphics: 6.5 
The cars are smooth and nearly three-dimensional, but the 2D backgrounds, bland colors and repetitive track design deflate this game's graphic balloon.

Sound: 6
Average, blip-and-beep music, annoying voice-overs (telling you when to turn left or right) and repetitive engine sounds are more than enough of a reason to turn off the volume.

Difficulty: Medium
Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is surprisingly challenging.  Not that I expected the game to be easy, but the rally-like controls really do make the game more difficult to master.

Concept: 6 
Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is a step forward in terms of game control, but the 2D, forward-scrolling track design has got to go.  Game Boy Advance is capable of producing 3D games.  Please developers, make use of this technology BEFORE Nintendo decides to release a new, extremely-powerful Game Boy system.  By then, developers will be moving on, and we'll have never known all of the great 3D games we could have had on the GBA.

Multiplayer: 7.5
Four players: one cart.  How awesome is that?  Codemasters made the right choice when they decided to include a single-cart multiplayer feature.

Overall: 7
Close...but no racing masterpiece.  Colin McRae Rally 2.0 tries hard to emulate the experience of console rally racers, and in the control aspect it does it really well.  But the repetitive, been there, done that track design bring this racer to a screeching halt.  Fun?  Yes.  Long-lasting entertainment?  No.  It's worth a rental for racing fans.  Some of you may even find that it is worth buying, but most gamers will think of it as a new candy bar: you try it once, maybe twice.  But when the sweetness has diminished, you go back to buying the junk food that you've known and loved for years.


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