reviews\ Mar 5, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 - PC - Review

It’s a precarious balance between acceleration and braking – too much of the former will push you off the course in the blink of an eye, while standing on the latter too long will drop you like a stone in the rankings.

Colin McRae Rally 2.0, from Codemasters, is a test of radical reflexive action against treacherous terrain, terrain that passes as roads under normal circumstances. You are given a rally car, a finely tuned, quick accelerating compact vehicle, then given the chance to hurtle down roads of gravel or mud, tarmac, or snow-covered paths through timing checkpoints. The idea is to finish as quickly as possible, to set split records, and move through all four stages of one country’s rally to advance to the next rally.

It sounds easy, but there is that juxtaposition of braking and accelerating to deal with.  With your navigator calling out the turns, you have the Peugeot 206 cranking the RPMs in third gear, flying down the course at 76 miles per hour, when you hit the switchback. The road is gravel, and your speed will surely catapult you into that stand of trees. Your foot comes off the accelerator, slaps the brake as you crank the wheel in the direction of the turn. The car’s rear end goes into a slide as the front-end battles, trying to make the turn. Then you hit the accelerator; the rear wheels grab and launch you into the corner, momentum regained.

The program features force feedback, which makes handling quick nice if you have a wheel.

There are four primary ways of playing: Championship, which is the timed event and you must finish in the top six to advance to the next rally; Single rally; Single event; Time trial; and Challenge. You begin your quest to be the best on four courses in Finland – roads built out of gravel and mud. Weather can be a factor, so make sure you set up your vehicle to handle the whims of Mother Nature. Should you succeed in Finland, it’s on to Greece, France and then the snow-covered courses in Sweden. Should you prove able, you will unlock courses in Australia, Kenya, Italy and the United Kingdom. There are courses that are locked until you prove yourself on the primary set.

The sound of this program consists mostly of the radio chat of your navigator, the roar of your car, the protestations of the tires trying to grab whatever surface you are working on, and the various sounds of collisions when you fail to keep it on course – the tinkling of windows be shattered, the crunch of metal being twisted by immovable objects, and the steady rattling of a hood that has been popped from a head-on greeting with a tree. There is also the backfire of the engine as the car changes gears – which is familiar to rally fans from another rally title, Infogrames Michelin Rally Masters.

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 truly excels in terms of graphics. The three-dimensional courses are a dynamic blend of light and weather conditions. And depending on your viewpoint (you can choose to drive from near rear bumper, farther back and above, from the front bumper, from the front windshield – which allows you to see the hood of the vehicle, and from the driver’s vantage point – which lets you see ‘your’ hands, the steering wheel, the instruments, front windshield and roll-bar system), you will also be treated to damage taken to the car when you fail to negotiate the course. If you choose a view that prohibits it, don’t worry, you can watch the metal contort, and drag – producing sparks, or see glass shatter and fly off in the replays.

If the race begins early in the day, you will use headlights to illuminate the track. But as the sun slowly rises, you turn off those lights and rely on the changing daylight conditions. This aspect is very well rendered. In fact, this title has raised the bar graphically for rally games. Utilizing force feedback, well-designed courses, and rich graphics, this title is a delight to watch and play.

There are six vehicles to choose from, but you can set any vehicle up for the course, and then repair the vehicle between stages two and three. What will be the tire tractability, how will you set the steering and brakes? Adjust the axels? How are your going to set up the suspension? Each affects how the car performs over the course of the race.

This is a delightful package of racing action, combined with high-end graphics and solid force-feedback performance.
The game is for anyone who loves to challenge roads and their abilities behind the wheel. And yes, this game does offer multiplayer action.

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 is one of the finest rally racing programs on the market. It is a combination of reflexive skill and driving intellect. Yep, it’s the whole package, and it offers enough eye candy to keep racing sim fans very happy.


Install: Easy.
Minimum install is only 6 megs; while the full package will eat 610 megs of hard drive space. Even at the moderate 410 megs of typical install space, this game goes onto a computer quickly.

Gameplay: 9.
The five driver’s perspectives give every game player an eyeful when it comes to the course. And once the race begins, it is non-stop from go to the finish line. There are a couple of times that the race seems to lose some sense of the fluidness of the race – it tends to slow a bit and the course doesn’t bounce past as fast, but that may be just my perception due to the concentration involved in racing.

Graphics: 9.
The environmental graphics, if launched into the tree line or tangling with the bushes, may be a bit flat, but the racecourse and car graphics are very nicely three-dimensionally designed.

Sound: 8.
While the general engine-roaring sounds may be typical of this game, the sounds of the wheels battling the course, and the collision audio is very well done.

Difficulty: 9.
The courses look nice and easy, and can be if you wish to drive at 50 miles-per-hour. Step on the accelerator and the course becomes a twisting peril of man and machine versus environment.

Concept: 8.
Road rallies that combine both traditional roads and gravel and mud, are not new, but this combines that challenge with the force-feedback characteristics that put the power in the hands of the driver. This makes for a great experience.

Multiplayer: N/A.
This game offers several different ways for multiplayer gaming – including IPX Direct play, Internet TCP/IP play, as well as serial and modem connections for direct play. Doing continued searches for Internet play failed to reveal any games, which makes this game a likely candidate for a couple of friends linking up for a little friendly racing action.

Overall: 9.
When something is put together that, at first look, seems so simple, yet challenges by pumping the intensity level and challenging players to use their reflexes and brain, it qualifies as a game that is a great experience. Colin McRae Rally 2.0 has managed to raise the bar for rally racing games, through a combination of wonderful graphics and great game play. 


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