Date: April 22, 2003
As we all know, the Colin McRae Rally racing series is one of the best rally series to date, so I knew I was going to be playing a solid rally game. Well let's boot up the Playstation 2 version of the game and get to it!
Colin McRae Rally 3 offers the player a selection of game types. The main part of the game would be the championship seasons where you are Mr. McRae himself and must traverse the globe conquering all of its hellacious rally tracks. It's a tough life, but someone's got to do it. The basic setup of each rally track remains the same as you travel to each exotic locale for two to three days. At the beginning, you are given a tune-up session to get the car set up the way you want it, and then it's off to the races. The rally events are based on time, so you better have a lead foot, or you will be coming in dead last. Also, do not drive recklessly because you don’t have many repair stops, and too much damage can and will take you out of the game, costing you major points at the end of the day. Most of the time, you're racing by yourself for the best time, but at the end of an event, you get the chance to race another opponent, one on one. Next up, we have the "stages" game mode, or as I call it, instant action, where you and a mate can battle head-to-head to see who is the fastest or race each track to get a feel for them so you won’t blow it when racing in the championship.
Slightly ironic for a racing game, damage is one of the many high points for CM3. Just about every aspect of the car can be damaged in some way or another, and your cars will not only take external damage but internal as well. Tires fall off, doors break, and windows shatter. Hauling down dirt roads will leave your car painted with sand and grit. The external damage is purely cosmetic, which means it has no bearing on the performance of the car whatsoever. The internal damage, however, takes center stage in car performance. Pushing a car to its limits is what a driver does, but pushing it too far will break something that wasn’t meant to be broken. You can drop a transmission, snap an axel, or blow an engine. Total destruction is what I am all about, and CM3 doesn’t let me down. The driving controls are affected by the damage, but I think I can sum up the controls in two words: Power Sliding. Practically every turn you make, whether on or off the road has some sort of power slide to it. Sure, you can make regular turns going slow, but this is a race, people! Give it some power coming out of the turn. Your handling can be tweaked as well, so if you find it too loose there is a sissy setting.
CM3 comes through again with the rally tracks. Each track varies in length as well as terrain, with many tracks changing from one terrain to another, requiring you to change your driving style. This is excellent because it always keeps you on your toes and conscious of your time. Despite the terrain, different tracks also mean different climates. Not only do you experiences your classic sandy track, but you now have to race on snow-covered tracks in the backwoods of the country. Weather plays a big part in CM3, often causing you to become frustrated and yell at the game. I didn’t do it too often. Despite my urge to punch something, I loved the maps and all that they contained.
Even though the PS2 is about 3 years old, the graphics of CM3 show that the PS2 can still hang with the big boys. The graphics in CM3 are of the top quality: you can see lush vegetation, dirt and grit of a gravel track, and the fury of Mother Nature. The car models are highly detailed, with crisp and vibrant textures. Take a door off, and you can see the interior of the car. Break a light, and you can see the housing as well as the shattered lens. Without a doubt, CM3 sports some awesome graphics.
The audio section for CM3 is heavily dependent on sound effects because there is no real music playing in the background as you race. There is some menu music, but for the rest of the game it’s you, the car, and its noises. I was kind of disappointed in this because I had hoped for some sort slamming soundtrack as I jumped and slid my way through the championship, although I do not hold the lack of music against this game. Most of the time, I was too worried to care about much else aside from my time and how fast the other guy was going. The sound effects truly make the car come alive because you screech as you make a hard turn, and the sound your engine makes can tell you whether to pack it in or make that turbo whine.
I have to say CM3 does the series justice in more spots than one. Killer graphics, awesome sound, and realistic game play gives CM3 the factors that racing fans would look for. With the multiplayer aspect, I can see some definite replay value for CM3. I do have one complaint about the game, and that has to do with its lack of cars. I am assuming there are more and you have to unlock them, or is what you see what you get? We’ll have to see ...
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