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Gameplay

Sound
  Graphics

Value
Publisher: Feral Interactive    Genre: Sports
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G4 @ 1670 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Hard Disk: 4000 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM


Colin McRae Rally
March 5, 2008 | Andrew Wasilow
Pages:123Gallery


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Sound
The sound is almost as impressive as the graphics. On most driving games or games where the developers strive for a heightened sense of realism, I immediately turn off any music playing while driving, as it takes away from the actual game, however, for the sake of playing the game out, I left it on for a race or two. The music is well written and adrenaline inducing, but it does get in the way. If you watch the WRC series on TV you know that the drivers have a co-driver who is calling out their turns, track condition, elevation changes, and general speed that they should be taking each corner. If you watch the races you also know that it is very difficult to understand the co-driver under normal driving conditions, so add a bit of fast paced music and trying to listen for directions becomes impossible. Nicky Grist provides the voice for his own character in the game adding yet another sense of realism to the game. Comparing the sounds of the game to the sounds of the actual races make it very difficult to distinguish which is real and which is the simulation. The only auditory issue is that it the engine sound is a little bit too digitized, especially at lower RPM. The engine sound does hum right at idle, but if you tap the throttle just a bit it sounds slightly electronic.

Other than the engine sound, the rest of the sound effects are wonderful. Gravel makes a gravel on rubber tires and metal body sound as you slide through corners, glass makes a crackling and breaking sound, the drive train makes the distinctive WRC car whine, even the turbo chargers whistle as the spool up between gear changes. Each car has its own distinct sound as well; the Ford Focus sounds different from the Peugeot 206 which sounds different from the Lancia Stratos. Even the trees make a very wood-like crunch upon metal when your car comes in contact with them. And they will come into contact with your car.

Gameplay
The controls are the same as most driving games on a computer. Digital keys giving an on or off signal to whatever control your telling it to do. In effect, steering is either full left, full right or dead center. The gas or brake is the same way, full break or full gas. This is the basic requirement for control of Colin McRae Rally Mac, a keyboard. The recommended input method is a control pad. As any gamer will tell you, a game pad is a big step above a keyboard for certain tasks, but for the likes of a driving game, it is still sadly lacking. When you get into a car, you do not grab a keyboard or a game pad. So why would you want to play a driving game or simulation with a keyboard or pad? I connected my Playstation 2ís USB Logitech Driving Force to my venerable G5 tower. I had played Feral Interactive's Total Immersion Racing using this wheel and was pleasantly rewarded with an awesome driving simulator and expected that another Feral Interactive title would be as easy to configure and use the same wheel and pedal set. I was quite wrong. The calibration for the steering wheel, which the game immediately recognized the model, was arcane and unintuitive. Feral has instructions on how to calibrate a steering wheel on their website, however they simply repeat what is written in the calibrations screen with only minor clarification. After playing with the steering wheel input for a while and opening and closing the game half a dozen times, I was finally able to get the wheel and the game to be happy with one another. What a difference!

With the wheel and pedals connected and set up properly, it felt as if I were playing a totally different game. Comparing how I was driving the game to WRC footage showed a distinct similarity in the small, yet very quick adjustments to the wheel in order to keep the car from uncontrollably spinning or heading toward those trees who are always so helpful in slowing you down. I finished my first stage with the steering wheel and to view my statistics and delighted to find my time was ten seconds faster with the wheel than with the keyboard. The force feedback and vibration from the wheel half tempted me to take a beater car to the nearest dirt road to give an honest and thorough comparison, regrettably common sense stepped in and told me this would be a good idea and that this was as close to a rally car feel I was going to get in the near future.



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