STAFF REVIEW of Colin McRae Rally 3 (Xbox)

Thursday, February 27, 2003.

Colin McRae Rally 3 Box art Adding in a pretty much pick-up-and-play element that its rivals can only dream about, the much anticipated Colin McRae Rally 3 has finally arrived. Moving onto the next generation systems for the first time, its prequels have shifted millions of copies since they first appeared, thanks mainly to great game play and graphics which totally outstripped its rivals. The game is based around the season mode, where you take over Colin's body, team and contract as you attempt to pilot the Ford Focus to the world championship in three consecutive seasons. As you progress through the years you unlock new equipment which develops your car as the race for the title becomes more competitive. Some courses are dropped from the championship and others are drafted in to replace them, giving the whole three-yearly option an organic and realistic feel. Colin McRae Rally 3 is Codemasters first off road outing on the next generation systems. With stiff competition coming from Rallysport Challenge, can Colin hack the pressure and rule the rally game genre once again? Now lets stop with this and get too the game play.

When it comes down to game play, Colin McRae offers one of the most authentic rally experiences ever released on a console any console for that matter. Far from the arcade feel of some of the competition, the physics and graphical engine of CMR3 offer a much higher level of realism. Whilst driving, you can control the action from several different viewpoints, either from the front of the bonnet, inside the car, or from a 3rd person point of view, allowing players to choose the view which they are most comfortable with. You really get a feeling of the pressure and excitement as you zip along a mud-track in Australia, send spray flying as you drive through rivers, and send barriers tumbling if you slide into them. Most people prefer to ride inside the rally car, allowing you to get close to what the rally drivers themselves would see. The game concentrates on the little details to make the whole experience that bit more believable. As you?re speeding down a narrow mud-track which then diverts onto a tarmac road, you?ll notice subtle differences in the handling of the car. Even if the road is wet, the handling alters slightly, meaning you may have to change tire grips in order to take corners with minimum slide. Car setup is key and you will find that out as you get farther into this game.

Graphically, CMR3 is excellent, with minute car details and excellent damage modeling, punishing wreak less drivers with a dent here or a lost hood there, maybe arriving at the next checkpoint minus a door and hood. Damage your vehicle sufficiently, and your driving will be noticeable impaired. As for the tracks and environments, the visuals really bring the countries to life. The snow stages are most excellent. Going through the water and going from grass too gravel then too asphalt is definitely noticeable ?It all looks so real?. The Spanish rally looks and feels typically Mediterranean, whilst you can almost feel the cold winds on the Finland track. The Xbox version of the game graphically surpasses the PS2 version, with slightly improved graphics and frame-rate, but the game play is basically the same. The draw rate is so distance that you could just pass it off as haze or mist. Graphics is one of the main things that told me this game was a hit. All you have too do is open your eyes and you will see right off. Codemasters set a new standard for graphic quality on the Xbox far as racing series games go.

The sound is great, when you're ragging your Ford Focus around the engine sounds great but maybe a little weak and wimpy sounding at times. The rasp of the exhaust is also a nice touch. The best sounding car in the game is definitely the Subaru WRC, it's very close to the real thing. One very important aspect if the sound are the pace notes, these are not just for effect, to do well in the game you will have to listen to Grist's shouting "60 3 left, 100 6 right" etc. On some stages your view will be obscured by trees so at times you will have to listen to the pace notes as you can be hurtling in to a blind corner with just the notes to rely on. Now I came very annoyed with Grist the announcer when he announces the upcoming turns, jumps and obstacles that lie ahead when you?re powering down the course. But don?t get me wrong the guy is good at what he does and it?s a big help when you?re trying too getting the best times down the curvy courses. All in all the sound is great and it goes quite nicely with the rest of the game considering every other aspect is great as well.

Keep doing what you are doing.... maby work on the audio for the engine nosies far as turraine changing goes.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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