When I say “road racing”, what comes to mind? A pack of highly tuned, custom-built stock cars running at high speeds less than 8 inches away from each other, turning left? Maybe it’s two ultra tricked-out foreign coupes tearing down the strip, each one trying to beat the other to the end? If you are really out-there, you might be thinking of the circuit races through city streets in cars that ride so low to the ground even the smallest speed bump would hang one up.
Well, whatever your idea of road racing is, there is nothing quite like rally racing in the world of motor sports. Rally what? While rally racing doesn’t carry the same popularity here in the States that NASCAR or IROC do, it is a very popular form of racing in Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Rally racing differs from more common road racing in a couple of very specific ways. For one, the courses are set up as point-to-point courses, or rallies. Instead of doing laps around a fixed, enclosed course, the rally starts at one point, and follows a series of check-points to the end. The course will often take the driver through a number of unpredictable twists, turns, jumps, and bumps, on surfaces that range from loose gravel to mud to tarmac. The constant changing road conditions force the driver to stay on his toes, so to speak.
Another difference is that you are generally not racing head-to-head against other drivers. The start of each rally is staggered, with cars starting the race at set intervals after the drivers ahead of them. The idea here, then, is not necessarily to be the first to cross the finish line, but to be the one who does it in the fastest time. In many ways, you are not competing against the other drivers so much as you are competing against the course.
The Macintosh hasn’t exactly been blessed with a large number of racing games at all, and rally games are even fewer and farther between. In fact, I believe that CodeBlender’s Rally Shift is one of the only true rally games available for the Mac. This has forced those of us wanting to get our rally fix to turn to either out Windows PC or game consoles. There have been a number of rally games released for these platforms. Games like V-Rally and Xpand Rally have been very popular, but by far the most popular, highest rated series of rally games have been Codemasters’ Colin McRae Rally (CMR) series.
Bearing the name of the well-known Scottish rally driver, the Colin McRae series got its start on the original PlayStation and Windows PC, and was heralded as the most realistic rally racing game at the time, with its damage modeling and impressive course design. CMR 2.0 followed, which added the current stable of rally cars to the lineup, as well as new courses. CMR 3 was the first of the series to appear on the PlayStation 2 console. Colin McRae Rally ’04 and 2005 came soon after, with 2005 appearing on the PC, PS2, Xbox, and Sony’s PSP.
Our Mac-gaming friends across the pond, Feral Interactive, have seen fit to bring us the latest release, CMR 2005, known officially on the Macintosh as Colin McRae Rally Mac. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to try CMR in any of its incarnations, this is arguably the best title of the series, and will be an excellent addition to any Macintosh gaming library.
The game is split into a number of different game modes, including Career mode, Championship mode, and Rally, Stage, and Online modes. In the Career mode, you compete in a full rally racing career, driving a number of different rally cars through a number of different challenges. A non-linear series of championships, cups, and challenges allow you to work your way to the top to compete with the very best in the sport.
Championship mode allows you to race one of the 4WD-class of rally cars as Colin McRae in six different races. The Rally and Stage modes allow you to race any currently unlocked car from your stable on any currently unlocked course available.