Colin McRae Rally 2005 Review

Developer: Codemasters Publisher: Nokia
Release Date: November 15, 2004 Also On: None

In the past few months, we’ve seen a N-Gage cart racer, a N-Gage arcade racer akin to Burnout 3, and now, a rally car racing game from Codemasters, the makers of TOCA, IndyCar Series, etc. Codemasters has brought their Colin McRae series to the N-Gage, miniaturizing the gaming experience to fit in your hand. Thankfully, not much is absent from the N-Gage version that isn’t also in the console version.

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Colin McRae Rally 2005 has you select from a few game modes. First, you select between offline single-player, offline multi-player, or online score boards/challenges. Using N-Gage Arena, you can connect to international scoreboards, displaying the top players of each stage for each country (i.e. the 4 stages in the French tournament).

You get on the scoreboard by downloading race ghosts from other players. You’re awarded with 20 points for a win, -10 for a loss. You’ll see a floating outline of the body of a car racing you, if you play online with N-Gage Arena. I’m definitely excited about this addition to the game. It adds a whole new level of meaning to the word ‘replay value’. Since I’ve been playing the online modes and completed the single-player game, I think it’s easy to say the offline multi-player is standard fare.

The offline single-player is anything but standard fare when it comes to racing games for N-Gage. This is the top-of-the-line racing game on N-Gage, hands down. The rally racing adds a new sense of realism that both Asphalt GT, and especially Crash Nitro Kart, lacked. In Asphalt, you’d drive through trees, while in Crash, you’d run into walls since you’re blinded by the camera angels.

In Colin McRae, the camera problems and detection issues have been resolved. The camera angle is adjustable, as there are three viewpoints, including a first-person racing experience. As for detection, running into anything, be it rocks, trees, or sides of a cliff, will all cause damage, slow your car, and could lead to flipping it. This damage will need to be repaired mid-tournament. One of the keys to victory is in fact repairing your car’s damage. You’ll have 60 minutes worth of repairs. You’ll need to use it wisely on parts that are most needed. Each part you repair will cost you valuable repair time.

If you select Rally as your game option (single-player offline), you choose from four game modes: Championship, Single Rally, Single Stage, or Time Trial. The Championship is the heart of the game, where each Rally is combined to form the Championship. You’ll race throughout the world, in places such as France, Finland, Italy, Greece, Kenya, and the United Kingdom. Single Rally will break it up into four stages of one country. Single Stage has you select a country, and one of that country’s four stages.

By playing the Championship mode, you will unlock new vehicles and countries. For instance, you won’t start off with the United Kingdom as a choice in any of the gameplay modes. You unlock it by playing the Championship mode first, and beating that rally. The same goes for the Outback. This of course gives you incentive to play the game, but that’s not really necessary, as you probably won’t put this game down for quite a few hours.

Unlike most racers, Colin McRae makes good use of the game screen. A bar at the top of the screen will tell you where you are in the race, and if you have beaten an records at any given stage marker. Your co-driver (the person that talks to you) sign will tell you which when the next turn is. The co-driver himself will tell you if it’s sharp or not, among other things. Split Time shows you the fastest recorded times for each marker. On the bottom of the screen is your speed, time, gear, and RPM.

A fascinating aspect of the game is the stage differential. Some stages will be muddy, others will have gravel, and yet others will be snow-covered. In the snow race, you’ll go from snow to ice, then back to snow. The ice is obviously much slicker, giving you a hard slide with little control. For those of us that live in the Midwest, this is all too common in the winter months, so adjustment to controls is rather easy. Others might freak out at how little grip you have of your vehicle.

When the car pulls into the pit-stop, and the smoke is cleared from the exhaust, Colin McRae is quite a good racing game, something that I personally wasn’t expecting on the N-Gage. Sure, it’s frustrating to hit trees and go in-between the track, a fence, and a tree-line, but it’s hard to give it too much flack for that. The amount of gameplay that this game has, when compared to the other racers on N-Gage, is superb. Asphalt had its fair share of replay value, but the gameplay was tiresome with the same tracks. In Colin McRae, you get at least 24 tracks to race on, if not more. Casual or hardcore racers that own a N-Gage should definitely pick this title up, without hesitation. Colin McRae is the best handheld racer, ever made.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.6
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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