Colin McRae Rally 2005 – NG – Review

Earth is a
strange place. Three years ago I never would have imagined that I’d be playing
GameCube more than Xbox. Last year I couldn’t imagine playing any portable
console more than the Nintendo DS. But here we are, February ’05, and which
portable device is stuck in my hands? Which device is getting the best games?
Surprise, surprise: N-Gage.

With a
slight bit of hesitance, I picked up the box for Colin McRae Rally 2005.
Theoretically racing games can be fun on the small screen, but have they ever
really been? Mario Kart is great on the GBA, but it’s two-dimensional. How can
that compare to the experience of a home console?

that’s the experience this game shoots for, that of a home console game. It
does it incredibly well, with unprecedented physics, great controls, killer
track design, and graphics that will make you say, "This is N-Gage!?"

Yep, we’re stunned

close to other versions available, Colin McRae Rally 2005 is the game you know
and love, minus a few things we can live without. Although I always prefer to
play racing games (or any game for that matter) with an analog stick, the lack
of one here was not as big a detriment as it has been with other games. It’s
clear that the developers knew exactly what they were doing, making sure that
all of the subtle nuances of a racing simulator were left intact.

That’s one
of the most amazing things about this game. You’ll experience real videogame
physics – physics that are based on those that exist in the real world.
Translation: the vehicle’s traction depends on the tires and the surface
you’re driving on. Even a good dirt road can become an ugly mess when your car
starts spinning because you didn’t judge the turn properly. Colin McRae Rally
2005 is pure simulation racing. Player-friendly physics are definitely there
(the fact that I’m able to drive without crashing is proof of that). But the
controls, course layout, vehicle details, et cetera, were made for a

The 16
vehicle designs are solid, to say the least. Colin McRae fans will recognize
manufacturers like Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault. Audi, Toyota, Mitsubishi,
Subaru and Volkswagen came along for the ride as well. Each one has the usual
list of strengths and weaknesses, varying in speed, horsepower, driving
ability (steering, turning radius), etc.

Game modes
include Championship, Multiplayer, Single Rally, Single Stage and Time Trial.
Multiplayer is set up for two players via the N-Gage’s built-in Bluetooth
capabilities. Although the N-Gage Arena can be accessed through the game, it’s
not for true multiplayer gaming – just ghost races versus those who have raced
before you. It’s more or less a global version of the Time Trial mode.

Disappointing, but not game damaging. Colin McRae Rally 2005’s single-player
features, most notably the deep Championship mode, will satisfy everyone.
That’s right, everyone. Don’t let your friends play the game, because if they
don’t have an N-Gage they’ll never want to give yours back.


The graphics
are unbelievable. Not unbelievable in the sense that it’s something we’ve
never seen before – unbelievable because it didn’t seem possible on such a
tiny screen. From dirt roads to snowy winter wonderlands, Colin McRae Rally
2005 is an instant eye-popping racer. Not even the launch titles for the
Nintendo DS’s can compare to Colin McRae’s visual prowess. The tracks aren’t
littered with cars like they should be, but that’s not how rally racing works.
Competition is there, but it’s in the form of a depleting clock.

You can’t
deny how much detail has been put into the vehicles and environments. You can
actually see what’s in front of you! The graphics tend to pull in the
background as you race along the track – that wasn’t an unexpected hitch
considering how common a trait this was on the PSone.

No question,
no pondering, no doubt. Colin McRae Rally 2005 is THE best N-Gage racing game.
Forget the rest exist – they’re just half-baked ports. Colin McRae Rally 2005
is a true console-to-N-Gage port with all the goodness of the other versions
baked right in.

Scoring Details

for Colin McRae Rally 2005

Gameplay: 8.5
"Fast" and
"intense" are not two words you’d use to describe the N-Gage, at least not at
launch. But they are two words I’m using to describe the system’s best racer,
Colin McRae Rally 2005.

Adored for
its simulation gameplay, the Colin McRae series has sold millions of copies
worldwide. Against all odds the key components of this successful series –
driving physics (the way the cars handle), general physics (the way they
interact with the environments), course and vehicle design – have not been
lost in the conversion.

Fans of the
series will love the 64 tracks. The vehicle list has been limited to 16, but
that’s plenty for most racing games. Tracks are most important, especially for
a series whose developers work day and night to create ones that are fun to
race. They’ve accomplished that here, and they’ve done it without sacrificing
too many of the real-world mechanics.

Graphics: 8.0
Graphics are
always improving, so I can’t go too high. Really though, Colin McRae Rally
2005 is practically a 9. Just watch someone else play it for a few minutes.
You really won’t believe your eyes.

Sound: 7.0

Difficulty: Medium
This N-Gage port
is no pushover. Don’t expect to be a master of it in a day.

Concept: 6.5
Can’t give a game
too much praise for being a port. However, you can give plenty of kudos to the
developers who made this game play so smoothly. It must’ve been a tester’s
nightmare. I know it’s "just a port," but this is not familiar architecture.
Most developers are used to working with Xbox and PS2 by now, but not
everyone’s designed games for the N-Gage. And even if you had, it’s still not
an easy undertaking.

Multiplayer: 6.5
Fun for
two-players standing nearby, nonexistent for everyone else. The N-Gage Arena
ghost races get old just as they did with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and countless
other N-Gage games.

Overall: 8.2
The world hasn’t
seen a mobile racer this good before and it probably won’t see another until
the PSP is released. Why wait two months for something that might not even
occur when you could be engrossed in a great game right now? You’ve already
got an N-Gage. Whether it’s sitting in your closet, buried under your desk, or
collecting dust under the bed doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you
spent a fortune for a mobile game device that didn’t have nearly enough
reasons to justify its hefty price tag. With games like Colin McRae Rally 2005
in stores now, N-Gage is finally justified.