Colin McRae Rally 2005 Xbox Official Website
Developed by Codemasters
Release Date - Out Now
Price : £39.99
It's a sign of getting old when years seem to fly past like months. It doesn't seem that long ago since we reviewed Colin McRae Rally 04 and here, a whole year later, we have the review of Colin McRae Rally 2005. The last few episodes in the series have arrived on an annual basis and with sequels arriving on this fairly short timescale it becomes interesting to see just how much has changed in such a short space of time. The jump from the third to the fourth game in the series was quite significant but can the jump be as large again? It has to have been difficult as Colin McRae Rally 04 had few problems and solved most gripes that people had with the third in the series. In fact most would argue that only an Xbox Live mode was all that was needed. Well this year we finally have one and a few other additions too.
So what does Colin McRae Rally have to offer then? Well there's a staggering 300+ stages and 34 cars including the Lancia Stratos, VW Beetle RSi, Toyota Celica GT-FOUR and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII to name but a few. This time around the game features 'interactive scenery' where trees shake if you hit them. However there are still a few well placed small rocks that don't move an inch if you happen to catch them. The game modes consist of Championship, Career and Challenge modes but above all the most eye-catching addition for most will be the support for Xbox Live. The Xbox Live races allow you to participate in a 2-8 player rally or stage race. As with Colin McRae Rally 04 on the PC your opponents are ghost cars that you can't hit. The usual Quick Match, Optimatch and Create Race options apply here as in other Xbox Live games. Each player has a World Rank that shows how well you compare with other virtual rally drivers around the world. You can also download ghost laps that other gamers have created and try and beat their times. The Xbox Live mode isn't as impressive as in other titles, such as Project Gotham Racing 2, but it's a worthy edition and one that longstanding fans of the series will appreciate.
Most though will spend the bulk of their time in the single-player modes. As mentioned above we have Championship, Career and Challenge modes. The Championship mode allows you to step into the shoes of Colin himself after picking the 4WD car that you want from the choice on offer and setting it up as you want to. I suspect most will head for the Career mode though that allows you to create your own piece of rally history. Here you'll begin at the bottom of the pile with only a few cars in your possession. You can enter many different events once your driver rating reaches the required level and completing the events will unlock cars as well as increasing your driver rating. If I had to pick a single part of the game that I'm most impressed with it would have to be the Career mode and I'm sure most would agree with this as it will take you ages to complete and is more enjoyable than the Championship mode. The Challenge mode consists of Time Trial challenges and Multiplayer (for 2-4 players) rallies and stage races as well system link up options.
Whilst it might not seem that long ago since we reviewed the last Colin McRae Rally game there has been one important game release between that game and this 2005 version and that game is RalliSport Challenge 2. Unlike the Colin McRae Rally series, RalliSport Challenge 2 has been designed exclusively for Xbox and it really does show. Yes Colin McRae Rally 2005 does look good and if we were talking about the PlayStation 2 here it would be more than acceptable but on the Xbox it doesn't appear to push the hardware at all. I couldn't honestly say with any certainty if the game was designed for the PlayStation 2 and then ported over to the Xbox but it certainly looks that way. It's strange though because TOCA Race Driver 2 looked fantastic and much better than Colin McRae Rally 2005. Bearing all this in mind though the game still looks good. There are five camera angles on offer this year (two chase views, a cockpit view,a bonnet cam and a bumper cam) which is an improvement on the prequels in the series. The car models look good too and it's great to see the original Mini and the original Ford Escort in all their former glory (although the cockpit views don't look as good as they could). Once again the frame rate is spot on and I didn't experience any slowdown in the game.
With each rally game it's the same story for deaf gamers. Whilst hearing gamers have the helpful verbal pace notes of Nicky Grist deaf gamers have to make do with icons in order to gather their information. Once again the icons are colour-coded (red for severe turns such as hairpins and green for shallow bends) with a simple depiction of the approaching turn. Whilst these icons are useful though, they aren't really as informative as the verbal pace notes and don't give as complete a picture of the approaching terrain and hazards as the verbal pace notes do. It's easy to criticise and difficult to suggest an alternative method though. After all it's tricky to drive at speed and take in a lot of pictorial information.
As with so many sequels of annual releases this year, the real question is whether or not it's worth paying out for the latest version. Personally I wouldn't say it's a better game than last year's Colin McRae Rally game. Yes there are some additional features but they probably don't justify the £40 price tag on their own and if you only intend to play the single player game then it really is a tough choice. If you want online play though then there's no question that the game is a must for you as it's the only version of the game that offers this and it does a good job of providing an online experience. Essentially though it's still an enjoyable game (with the same quality handling that the previous games have had) that dedicated fans of the series will appreciate. Graphically though it looks disappointing when compared to dedicated Xbox games such as RalliSport Challenge 2 and this is one area of the game that need improving in time for next year.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
Colin McRae Rally 2005 is a solid but not spectacular addition to the series that should please most fans. However the graphics aren't as good as in TOCA Race Driver 2 or RalliSport Challenge 2 which is disappointing.
No real obstacles except to say that the pace note icons are not as informative as the verbal pace notes.