Here's a review that I've posted in other forums to spread the word:
For ages we mac users would curse ourselves for not having a decent "car racing" game. Something that felt and looked REAL. Nascar? Ford Racing 2? Those were about as close as they'd get. But still not close enough.
Introducing Colin McRae Rally Mac. Probably THE best racing sim you'll ever play native in OS X! When I first saw this on the shelves of the iStudio at Siam Paragon here in Bangkok I was like "wow... the graphics on the packaging look pretty impressive". Wait till you play the game! The graphics are even better appreciated in the game itself. And the performance. Oooh the performance. Rocks. Speed. Good FPS even on a 3-year old iMac G5 with an ATI Radeon 9600 and just 128mb VRAM.
Now of course it IS "just" the 2005 PC port of Colin McRae rally, but still this game is perhaps the best racing sim -- graphics wise, performance wise and game-play wise for Mac OS X. Yeah, so for those of you who have the luxury of a macbook or mac pro are probably already playing the PC version of Colin McRae DIRT which boasts superior graphics to this one, but let's not get ahead of ourselves -- so for this review I won't be mentioning CMR DIRT any further.
Ok, so what exactly is the game about?
It's rally racing. Note that rally racing is much different from street racing or NASCAR though. In rally racing you race against yourself -- against time, rather than other cars on the same track. You also race against traction -- racing on loose gravel is much different than racing on a speedway or tarmac. In rally racing learning to drift is a must for turning, and slowing down for control IS not an option. It's a requirement.
SELECT YOUR ENGINES
Colin McRae allows you to select a pretty wide variety of cars. You don't even need to play and finish cups to unlock all these cars (you can cheat). 4WD cars are one of the meanest. They're fast. Horribly fast. In certain tracks they're even too fast for their own good. For this reason, having a steering wheel with pedals is a good way to control your throttle.
I was so hooked on the game that's exactly what I did. I got the wheel-of-wheels, the Logitech G25 racing wheel. Although Colin McRae doesn't support the 900 degrees of turning that the wheel supports, it's still a great wheel with real leather. No need for me to do a further review of the G25 though... there are enough already on the web and the hype is all true!
You can see a video of me playing Colin McRae Rally with my G25 racing wheel here:
YouTube - Colin McRae Rally Mac -- Logitech G25 wheel
Anyways the other cars you can select are 2WD, Super 2WD, AWD, 4x4 Pickups, Classics (including the Mini Cooper and the new Volkswagen Beetle RSI) and Type B cars.
Although 4WD cars are one of the meanest, the Type B cars are definitely THE meanest. They're so powerful that they're almost uncontrollable (for me). Still trying to get the hang of Type B cars. They sure don't look very modern for their makes, but they're definitely more powerful than any of the other cars. Use at your own risk.
What would rally racing be without the ability to damage your car? We're not just talking about wearing out tires until they get wobbly and eventually explode (they do though!) or simple damage penalties that most other games put in place despite-still-having-a-shiny-clean-body. In Colin McRae, your car gets damaged. Very damaged. This damage ranges from dirt accumulating on your windscreen (forcing the wipers to go on), to small paint scratches, to dents, large dents, loss of your bumper, loss of your cooling system, loss of engine integrity, smashed glass panels, popped-and-scraping wheels and other nuances like loosing your headlights or tail lights. Damage is all there. And It does have an impact on your cars steering, suspension etc.
Damage counts most when you're playing the rally career mode and winning Shield events and Cups. If your car is damaged, you'll need to fix it up, given a set amount of time to spend for repairs. Any additional fixes done past the given time will incite a time penalty in your next race. So drive safely.
RACE AROUND THE WORLD
You can select from 8 different stages from 9 different countries in the game -- from the dry Australian dirt to the slippery iced roads of Sweden. That's 73 stages all-in-all! But that's not all -- there are additional special stages that you can unlock and test your wheels on as well. Race is clear morning weather, or snow/rain overcasts with your headlights glaring.
GRAPHICS, GAMEPLAY and REQUIREMENTS
This is perhaps the best-balanced game that delivers well on 2005 mac hardware (it is a 2005 game in reality). However, it doesn't support the Intel GMA chipsets. So sorry Macbook and Mac Mini users. On my 2.0Ghz 2GB RAM 20" iMac G5 with an ATI Radeon 9600 (128MB) I can run the game at full 1680x1050 resolution -- oddly this is actually better for game performance as I've found that although lower resolutions give higher framerates, they also make the game hiccup more. So I play with Z buffering set to 16, Redraw distance at 4, and everything else off or on the lowest. In turn the graphics are still better than what any other racing sim on the mac has to offer. TIP: Turning off post-processing effects makes the game look better without ugly blurs.
The game also supports vibration and force feedback controllers.
The game has 3 modes: A quick race mode, a career mode, and a Championships mode. I'd stick to the quick race rallies mode for a while.
I would recommend this game to anyone with a flat-panel iMac and above. If you really want to get serious, buy a racing wheel to go with it. The MOMO Force Feedback would suit perfectly, as there are no features the game doesn't support. Force feedback is supported for steering wheels and vibration is supported on gamepads with vibration. Having a wheel makes the game more serious, and I find that this is where the "first person view"/bonnet view works best. If you use a gamepad, the 2nd person/outside car views make the game more enjoyable and less tense to play.
Now if only they can port Colin McRae DIRT on the mac!!
LINKS and VIDEOS
Too see the game in action, follow these links:
Australia Box Hill Demo (best time: 3.16.19)
G25 Game Preview (YouTube)
How to Smash a Car (YouTube)
I had the wheel out again last night (after having put it back in the box because it took up so much desk space) for a game and this time I tried the unthinkable -- using MANUAL transmission (so much for being called an AT *ussy now)!
I gotta say, it does involve a lot more brain cells being active, but it makes it so much more fun and engaging. I've already pretty much gotten used to overcoming oversteers now that stepping up to manual transmission was just the next best thing to try out. And boy was I surprised -- I beat some of my old time records (although I pretty much trashed my car in the end). Manual is more tricky to overcome oversteer though -- you have to quickly asses your speed, gear down if needed, correct the oversteer and floor the gas to finish correcting the oversteer (propelling the car forward because it's probably sliding sideways on dirt). Then you need to gear up almost immediately (if you've geared down during the maneuver) when your RPM is crying for it. Exhilarating stuff!
So, looks like it'll be manual transmission for me from now on. Automatic transmission does take some fun out of the game. MT gives it back the heart-pumping adrenaline rush. Not to forget Semi-auto transmission... but I've found no need for that now that I'm getting the hang of full MT. So yeah... it's full MT for me.
...and besides, automatic is for *ussies.
(and I've finally come to understand why people say it like so)!