Colin McRae Rally 3 - PS2

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Colin McRae Rally 3 (PS2)
Also for: PC, Xbox, GameCube
Viewed: 3D First-person / Third-person Genre:
Racing: Rally
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Codemasters Soft. Co.: Codemasters
Publishers: Codemasters (GB)
Released: 25 Oct 2002 (GB)
Ratings: 3+
Accessories: Memory Card, Analogue Control Compatible: all buttons, Steering Wheel
Features: Vibration Function Compatible


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One of the best-kept secrets of European gaming has to be the Colin McRae Rally series from UK-based Codemasters. Widely ignored in Japan and the US, Eurogamers have enjoyed one of the most realistic, competent and well-balanced driving games across two previous releases for the PlayStation.

As the new era dawns, a new McRae game is released. Similar in gameplay though different in focus and direction, Colin McRae 3 promises a rallying experience free from the 32-Bit confines of the PlayStation and all that that entails.

Initially, it's important to clear up one point before we go any further. Colin McRae 3 is an incredible spectacle but it represents a little more than that in the history and evolution of the videogame. It stands as an example of marketing gone mad, with licensing vehicles overpowering gameplay.

As you may well know, in the first outings in this acclaimed series, players could play either a stage, an entire rally, or a whole season with any car that was available. This is no longer the case. You may now only play a full rally in the Ford Focus, part of the deal beaten out between Codies and Ford for the licensing. This has been pushed doggedly by the marketing force that represents the title as making for a fully authentic Colin McRae simulator experience, but that misses the point somewhat. Players don't want to be Colin, they just want to drive the cars and take part in rallies. Gone are the days of taking part in a full season, driving in a Lancia Stratos or a Sierra Cosworth, and that is a great shame and a bit of a disservice.

However, that is the only fault you can really pick with the latest offering from the masters of the rally sim. We would have to be a big bunch of churls to deny that CMR3's gameplay is lacking in any way. The attention to detail in CMR3 is staggering, a real tour de force of detail and perseverance of development ethics overwhelming the usual constraints of the modern game. Incredibly detailed environments mix with startlingly in-depth car-tinkery that again puts the onus upon the likes of Polyphony to better it.

Again, it is immediately obvious that a dedicated team of car, rally and videogame devotees have toiled long and hard to deliver the finished game. In an age that values immediate arcade playability over a polished physics engine, Colin 3 stands roll cage and roof panel above the competition. A completely believable and predictable set of physics is in place that will reward concentration, ambition and skill. As ever, the whole experience is guided by the vocal machine gun that is Nicky Grist, McRae's longstanding co-driver.

Imagine all the things that WRC promised. Colin McRae Rally 3 delivers them almost effortlessly. Truly a must-buy title.