Get Ready For Some Dirt
In the midst of all the high profile racing franchises and genres like kart racing, arcade, SIM and heck, even jet ski racing for consoles and mobile, rally racing has been always been overlooked, a niche served for the most die hard of fans. Based on an earlier game in the series (Colin McRae Rally 2 for Playstation and PC) the Colin McRae name finally makes its debut in the Google Play Store. With updated graphics McRae drifts into Android looking to satisfy racer fans and franchise veterans alike. But is a fresh coat of paint, enough to get players behind the wheel?
53 Left 54 Right and Jump, Maybe
In one word: Maybe. Unlike popular racing games like Asphalt 8 and Need for Speed on Google Play, Colin McRae Rally requires a bit more finesse behind the steering wheel. Newcomers may feel the controls to be a bit “floaty” thanks in part to the game’s physics and will constantly find themselves barrelling out of control at the slightest twist and turns and into the nearest tree or wooden fence. Indeed, much like real life, off-road is driving is much more difficult to navigate than say paved roads or highway. However, even when I finally mastered the controls, the cars themselves never gave me the impression of weight and body like their console counterparts. Instead the controls felt more akin to Riptide GP, where slight touches and taps play a heavier emphasis on mastering your vehicle.
Of course motion controls, using your device’s built-in accelerometer, allows gamers to tilt to move their vehicles in the desired direction. Like in most racing games, this style of game can have gamers oversteer off the road, and combine with McRae Rally’s already demanding controls it can get incredibly frustrating. Thankfully, your co-rally (voiced by famed former co-rally racer Nicky Grist) dictates and provides an overhead prompt for the exact and precise angles for a perfect turn and jumps. While it’s great and all being directed by legend, those who are unfamiliar with the rallying world can find his voice monotone and unexciting.
Down time between races can be spent on repairing your damaged vehicles. While not as punishing as Real Racing’s real world dozen hour or so repair time, there are limits in place, from repairing your vehicles outright. You’re allotted one minute to repair your vehicle and each block in a category (Engine/transmission, suspension, bodywork, wheels/types) takes away 5 seconds from your total time.
Dirt on the Windshield
Colin McRae Rally 2.0 was released in the late 90’s. While the brand new makeup and dress brings about higher textured vehicles and lighting, the environment looks bland and pulled straight from a 90’s arcade game. Take the time to actually study the stages and you’ll find two major colors permeating throughout the game: brown and green. Clumps of green that supposed to look like the silhouette of trees stand in for level barriers look incredibly flat and pixelated. Sure, there’s the occasional landmarks like barns to nudge you forward, but in all I found the racing levels ultimately uninspiring and boring.
Technically, the game plays fluidly say for a few instances of frame rate at higher speeds and these instances came at vital moments, such as tight turns and jumps, leading me to spin wildly out of control and into a barrier. Again, they are far and few in between but happened enough to make a note of. Loading time also takes longer than most games, going upwards of 30 seconds or more, this running on (relatively) current generation high end smartphone, the Nexus 5. Other nitpicks also include the lack of immersion mode, causing me from time to time to accidentally hitting the home button.
The game provides players with four cars (Ford Focus, Lancia Stratos, Mitsubishi Evo VI, and Subaru WRX STi) as well as three stages (Australia, Greece, and Corsica) all for $4.99. Not exactly a bang for your buck when compared to other racing games which features multiplayer and car customization.
So is this updated port worth your time? Yes and no. While in its own right Colin McRae Rally is an enjoyable game, the price of admission ($4.99) makes it a high barrier of entry for non-veterans of the series. Coupled with stripped feature found in other games such as multiplayer and car customizations and surprising, manual transmission, make the Colin McRae Rally a hard bargain to swallow. But if you feel the need the harken back to days of rally games, pre-Dirt series, this game might just satisfy the off-road speed demon in you.