Colin McRae Rally
Words by Allen Collins.
Captures by Marcus
Question: What could be manlier than throwin a car around like it insulted your Mama? Answer: Doing it at 100mph on a cliff-side mountain road- and if you can con your Mama into being your co-driver I will consider you manhood exemplified. Welcome to Rally boys. This sim cooks up some of the finest computer driving experiences currently available on the PC. The entire game in a word is excellent. It can be considered an axiom that the ease with which a game installs and begins running will probably foretell the overall quality of the game; easy install, quality game; lousy install, coaster. Rally installs effortlessly in a shockingly modest 20mb of disk space. Furthermore, this writer has yet to see a single video card that even burped running the game. Instead of a list of incompatible or problem video cards, the "Readme" has a list of compatible cards longer than my, er um, stick shift. This game is solid and robust; man stuff.
Speaking of video, the graphics are surprisingly good, especially for a game with such light system requirements, P166, 16mb ram, and practically any graphics accelerator. The courses are rendered quite nicely covering several countries, climates, conditions and track surfaces each of which require you to choose the proper equipment and setup. The attention to detail is evidenced by the functioning brake lights and the occasional broken glass provided by the ever-present damage modeling.
If Rally is a robust and solid game, the cars in Rally are as well, that is until you hit a tree (and you will hit a tree or a ridge or a fence). Like the real deal, you smack enough trees or one real hard and the car starts to drive like your Mama is jammed in the "steering rods" instead of the passenger seat. But it won't matter because you'll only be putt putt-ing at half speed from your damaged engine or gearbox. Fortunately, in a rally consisting of 6 or 7 stages you are allowed to repair damage between every 2 or so stages. Make no mistake, other than the ubiquitous, obligatory "behind the car" view option (which no real man would ever use in a simulation of this caliber), realism is the aim of this sim. You can drive a complete rally, a single time trial stage or a full championship consisting of all the rallies.
If you wish to keep Mommy right side up as much as possible it would be wise to take advantage of the driving school with none other than Colin McRae himself as your co-driver. He takes you through the paces of controlling the car, sliding and braking-both with the feet and the hand brake-all the while critiquing you for a final grade on your performance. The results are cleverly broken down so as to allow you to see what areas you are weak in.
Your weapons include a number of real world 2 and 4 wheel drive cars available as you progress through the difficulty levels and an added few win-able bonus cars. By the time you reach medium difficulty one of your opponents will the man himself [McRae]. If Mother does decide to come along you must let her know that this ain't no joy ride; she has work to do. The computer provided co-driver in rally is extremely important since what you are racing is not other cars but their times and, more importantly, the track. You have no in car map and with each stage consisting of as many as 70 turns, your co-drivers directions are all that keep you from becoming one with an Oak.
Rally is a different driving experience, excellently done in this game and is a hell of lot of fun. The lower level is extremely accessible to novices. However, this is no girly mans game. By the time you reach the hardest difficulty level, if you aren't sweating and sawing away at the wheel then you are in last place wuss.
Oddly, rumor has it that of all the racing sims out there, Rally is the sim that females like to drive the most. Oh well! Race on gurl.