Without a doubt Colin McRae Rally was the most realistic and enjoyable Rally game of recent years, the car handling was superb, the course design was well thought out and the whole game had a real feel of authenticity. So how do you improve on a game that already beats the competition hands-down?

Colin McRae 2.0 at first glance doesn’t look that different from the original, sure the graphics are better but on the outside the game follows the same format. Don’t be fooled though, 2.0 has a stack load of improvements under the bonnet.Colin McRae 2 now sports much more impressive eyecandy, not only are the cars more detailed but the terrain is also more realistic. The cars themselves show damage a lot better and you’ll probably find by the time you get to the end of a course your car will be a complete wreck with broken windshield smashed bumper and electrics that couldn’t power a 40 watt light bulb. Well ok, you might be a better driver than that and suffer nothing more than a dent in the side, but the car damage does look fantastic.

The terrain and road surfaces are definitely improved, with the game taking you right across the globe to race on anything from the dusty trails of the Australian outback to the ice covered lakes of Sweden, there’s a good variety to test the most experienced driver. The terrain also effects the car handling greatly for once, it’s not just there to look good. Venture onto ice and the car will be sliding all over the place requiring quick movements on the wheel and steady brake pressure. The difference in the car’s performance over the different terrains is most noticeable when going from the sliding gravel of Greece to the tarmac of France where the cars will stick to the road allowing for some lightning paced racing on narrows French roads. The courses have been superbly designed with tight corners, impressive jumps and scenery that looks simply awesome. Watching the sun set or driving through a forest at high speeds in the dead of night with only the headlights to guide you is thrilling stuff.

Every race will challenge your driving skill to the max.What makes Colin McRae such a great game is the control you have over the car, the controls are simple and effective. No need for handbrake turns, simply apply pressure to the breaks or pull a sharp turn left or right and the car will slide into the direction you need to go. Whack on the throttle coming out of the bend and you’re off again. The way the car handling is exactly what you would expect from driving a rally car and the game designers have got everything spot on.Colin McRae2 now sports an new added game play mode, arcade mode, which now allows the player to go head to head against other opponents on circuit tracks instead of just the ‘ghost car’ option.

The Arcade mode great fun and is accompanied by some ‘banging tunes’ to help drive the adrenaline. While the ‘ghost car’ mode was good in the original this is a vast improvement allowing gamers not so keen on the main rally races to try out their driving skills against other opponents in an arcade atmosphere with rally car handling. There are 2 classes of arcade race, Class A and B, Class A only becoming available after coming first in the Class B races giving an incentive to race that little bit harder.The main point of CMR 2.0 are the rally races which can be played out over a whole season or by doing single a single rally stage. It has to be said though, the championship races are by far the best and the main feature of the game. Each stage lasts around 2 or 3 minutes with a particular stage raced out against the clock over 4 or more sections. At the end of each stage totals are given for each driver and to progress to the next stage you have to come in the top 6.

Keeping an eye on the clock during races is essential to see just how much you need to push your driving skills to qualify. To help in the time department, there’s a handy time bar in the top right that indicates where you are on each segment of a race, if that segment goes red instead of green at the end of each section you know you’re behind and it’s time to pull out all the stops and get motoring.Between every two races of a stage is the repair section where essential repairs on the damaged car can be carried out. There is a time limit on the repair time so tough decisions have to be made, what to repair and what to leave until the next stopping point 2 races down the line. This is not always an easy choice. It’s at this stage car adjustments can also be made depending on what terrain or weather the next stage holds. Weather reports and stage details are available to help you get things just right and with a bit of tweeking you’ll find a setup that suits your driving style.Also, at the end of some of the stages you will get the chance to take part in a Super Special Stage which is a track designed as a mirror image where you have to race another car round a complex course, first car to the finish being the winner.

There is something unnerving about seeing another car start next to you on the other side of a wall knowing you have to get to the finish first with the other car going round the same course as yourself and only superior driving skills will win through.The game also features a time trial mode which is strictly against the clock and your best time on a particular course. As a helper a ghost car of your previous best time is your target to beat. This mode is great for improving the driving skills on some of the tougher stages.There are quite a few different views available, in-car, first person with or without the bonnet and of course the different third person modes. The first person is by far the most exhilarating giving a real sense of speed. The game also features a very nice replay mode at the end of every race which helps you not only learn the courses but also helps you spot weaknesses in your driving skills.

To bring the authentic rally feel to the game, Codemasters have included different cars from the top manufacturers on the Rally circuit including Subaru, Mitsubishi, Peaugot, Ford and Toyota. As you progress through the game more cars become unlocked and include such gems as the Mini Cooper and the MG Metro to name a few. The car detail is stunning , probably the best we have seen in any recent racing game, you won’t be disappointed.As with the previous game, the sound in 2.0 is excellent. Codemasters have recruited Colin McRae’s co-driver, Nicky Grist, to provide all the in-car commentary to help guide you round the stages. The car’s also all have their own unique engine noises depending on what you are driving, all sound highly authentic adding to the game’s overall realism. In the arcade mode Codemasters have also included fast paced music which helps drive the action along and thankfully, for the tougher real rally races, the music doesn’t put in an appearance.

Overall the sound is solid.One thing that is strange about Colin McRae 2.0 is the fact that it doesn’t make use of Codemasters’ online game service (CMN) which would be ideal for finding other rally driving enthusiasts. The game does support TCP/IP, modem and IPX allowing you to take on your mates, it’s just a shame it doesn’t support the new service which worked so well with 1nsane. With any luck this will be added later by CodemastersWe have to say that Colin McRae 2.0 is the best driving game we have played in ages, this, as far as we are concerned, is the definitive driving sim at the moment.

If you love driving games that look great and ‘feel’ just right, then this is the one game that should be in your collection. Codemasters have improved on the already excellent Colin McRae Rally and made the sequel even better.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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