Rally lets you set up an entire rally, either by selecting stages from a single location or by mixing stages from different locations. Stage mode lets you race single stages, allowing you the opportunity to change stages and cars after every race. These two modes are sandbox modes of sorts, giving you the opportunity to test different cars and tunings with different course types and driving conditions, whether they are surface types, day or night driving, or adverse weather conditions. This is the spot that you will most likely spend most of your time starting out, as you get used to how rally cars handle in different conditions. The last mode is the online mode, which will allow you to compete against rally racers from around the world. Feral will be using GameRanger, the de facto game matching service on the Macintosh. This integration should make it easy to set up matches with your mates, or perfect strangers.
CMR Mac boasts an impressive 300+ courses to race on, with locations based in 9 countries: Australia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the USA. Driving conditions vary greatly depending on the country, from the snow and ice covered roads of Sweden to the loose gravel of the Australian outback to the tarmac of the Japanese highlands. Terrains vary greatly, as well. The Japanese courses have you in the mountains, heading up and down steep mountain paths, with constant switch-backs and hairpin turns, while the UK courses have you twisting and turning your way through the English countryside. The attention to detail in these courses is amazing, from the spectators on the sides of the road to the textures used for the road to the various buildings, trees, and rivers you’ll find on any of the courses. It really is a truly beautiful game to look at.
There are over 30 real-world licensed cars in the game, from manufacturers such as Ford, Citroën, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, among others. Modern rally cars are modified versions of production street cars, so you will likely see familiar vehicles in the lineup, like the Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer, and VW Beetle. There are both 2WD and 4WD cars to choose from, and all of the cars can be tuned to fit the road conditions you are about to face. The car models in CMR Mac are very detailed and look nearly identical to their real-world counterparts. Realistic damage modeling allows for the car to get beat-up in various ways as you clash with the on- and off-road obstacles of each course. A small diagram in your HUD (heads up display) shows what parts of the car have suffered damage from any collision, and the performance of the vehicle will be slowly affected as the damage increases.
The sound is CMR Mac is extremely important. Of course, there are the standard racing sounds, with engine revs, squealing tires, and metal-crunching crashes. But rally racing has an added sound element that is an absolute necessity. Do to the unpredictable nature of the courses that you will be driving, you are provided a navigator. It is his job to follow the course map provided and to call out the course in an audible fashion to you, the driver. The directions come in the form of a direction combined with a number, such as “6 left” or “4 right opens to long 2 right”. The numbers relate to the sharpness of the curve, and of course you also have the direction of the turn. There are also instructions like “rise”, “jump”, and “bumps” to describe other aspects of the road ahead. Believe me, listening to the navigator is a requirement for becoming good at the game, and after a few races, it becomes almost as second-nature as following an on-screen course map. During one game, I tried playing with the sound off, and I failed miserably. It was next to impossible to predict some of the course changes without being able to listen to the navigator. The voice is nicely digitized, and very easy to listen to and understand. It really adds to the realism of the game, as well.
Colin McRae Rally Mac is really shaping up to be an excellent addition to the Macintosh racing genre. With an absolutely beautiful graphics engine, excellent sound, and spot-on gameplay, the CMR series has always been one to deliver, and Feral is up to the task of making sure that the Mac version is no different.