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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

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There are very few things in life that can capture most of my passions all in one go. First and foremost, driving. Yes, driving is one passion of mine that surpasses my love for most other things in life. If itís a nice relaxing drive though the desert hills or a knuckle whitening, stomach evacuating, tire torturing sprint around a race track; it simply gets my blood running to hear the thrum of cylinders and the sweet whoosh of air induction.

Next would be computers, more specifically the Macintosh. All through my High School education, the family Mac was there to aid in research, spell check my mistakes, create papers and presentations that surpassed my teachers expectations, and of course drag my attention away from afore mentioned noble and diligent tasks with the most profitable software area: Games.

To learn that Feral Interactive had helped to bring Colin McRae Rally to the Mac, gave my gas pedal foot a spasm of joy only to be cured by the digital roar of a flat four cylinder engine, the sound of gravel hitting the virtual undercarriage of sparkling blue WRC car with the stars of Pleiades chromed on a -- yes -- simulated grille. After playing Colin McRae Rally Mac as often as the intrusive reality of life will allow, the truth is that the game is no less than amazing in most qualities. The engine braps at just the right frequency, a light brush with a tree scrapes the paint, and Nicky Grist calls out turns and speeds in traditional unintelligible radio chatter. The addition of a USB steering wheel and pedals makes this game more of a simulator.

A lot of thought went into the design of this game, and it shows. The menus are clearly designed and uncluttered, yet decorated enough to not be plain or mundane. The cut scenes, however, are the only areas that could have used a greater attention to graphics quality. Their appearance on the screen is pixelated, not at the same resolution of the rest of the game. As you start a race, a short cut scene is displayed showing your car at the starting gate, in its current state of damage, in the current weather, time of day, and stage of the course. But its quality falls short of the rest of the game.

After the cut scene, you are placed in the drivers seat. Depending on which mode you chose back at the menu, you can be assuming the role of Colin McRae and his Subaru Impreza World Rally Championship (WRC) car, or driving one of the other rally cars available, from a vintage Mark I Ford Escort and original Mini Cooper, to the Audi A3 and the Peugeot 206. Within whatever car it is you choose, the graphics are no less than brilliant. Flogging your rally car around corners, over hills, mounds, rocks, and water filled dips in the road all jar your vision, spray water on your windshield and become a wonderfully well-rendered blur while you shift through the gears. Stopping your car on the course, you realize that everything is not rendered for motion, as in the rocks actually look like still, non-moving rocks; you can almost discern the individual bits of gravel on the road. The trees and grass gently sway in the wind. The dust begins to form a light layer on the windshield that your carís wipers turn on to clear. As you close in rapidly on a tree, you notice that the tree looks solid. Steering away from the tree just in time but clipping your rear quarter panel produces the undesired, yet expected, result based on the strength of the impact: a light tap will scratch your paint, where as a heavy blow will cave in the side of the car in a very realistically tree shaped way. To hit an object head on, say a tree, will wreck the front of the car. Keep hitting trees and you will eventually lose your hood, windshield and damage the mechanical parts of the car. Driving a rally car in the rain without a windshield and wiper blades is not something I would like to repeat, real or not. On the contrary, driving any car with a windshield and wipers in the rain with this game produces a whole different graphic experience. The rain hits in individual spots, of varying intensity from one portion of the course to another. Rain begins to bead up out of range of the wipers and streak backwards with the wind. Water is actually flung from the wipers and streaks against the beaded rain! I was so engrossed in watching the rain that I forgot to watch the road and found that one of my favorite objects of scenery had strayed into my path and crushed a tree shape dent in the front of my car.

Running at 1280x1024 with 4x anti-aliasing presented no problems for my dual 2GHz G5 tower and Radeon x800XT. Setting the resolution higher than that began to lower the frame rate to a slightly choppy level. Overall I was impressed that designers were able to get so much detail and yet not have the system requirements be outrageously high.


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