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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: April 3, 2001
The first on the scene has a tough time maintaining customer loyalty in any area of competitive business enterprise. In the virtual rally racing niche, the same rule applies. Codemasters was the initial developer of a major PC title in the form of Colin McRae Rally, but then first Magnetic Fields’ Mobil 1 Rally Championship and later Digital Illusions’ Rally Masters jumped ahead. Now Codemasters is releasing a sequel, Colin McRae Rally 2, in the hopes of getting back on top. Named (as was its predecessor) for the famous rally racer Colin McRae, the youngest driver ever to have become world champion in this sport, this new release features an updated game engine and several other minor enhancements.
This offering contains over 90 track variations on courses within eight countries — Greece, Finland, Australia, Kenya, France, Sweden, Italy and the UK; gone are Corsica, Indonesia, Monaco and New Zealand from the original release. Each rally consists of around ten stages (in contrast to around six in its predecessor) that are imaginary and much shorter than real rally courses, represented realistically in Mobil 1 Rally Championship. Each environment has distinctly different topography, incorporating special twists and jumps, and so requires an idiosyncratic driving approach. As in the original Colin McRae Rally, most of the tracks in this new release are locked, and you need to be one of the top six drivers in championship mode to unlock the rest. But the scenery on each course is much too similar, with many textures repeated ad nauseam.
Colin McRae Rally 2 sports over 20 cars, with all the major models including the Ford Focus, Lancia Stratos, MG Metro 6R4, Mitsubishi Lancer, Peugeot 206, Seat Cordoba, Subaru Impreza, and Toyota Corolla. Six vehicles are initially at your disposal, and more become available as you progress in both the rally and arcade modes. Since each of these little cars possesses similar power, transmission and weight, the key to success is subtle adjustment in how you drive the courses. You may set up your own driver profile to give yourself a unique identity while racing. In this sport, cars race primarily against the clock rather than directly against each other, so you need to be intensely attentive all the time. The range of models available is comparable to that in both Mobil 1 Rally Championship and Rally Masters.
Traditional rally racing modes are well represented in Colin McRae Rally 2. These modes include championship, single rally, single stage, time trial and challenge. In championship, you get to compete in a full season of rallies with a field of 16 drivers, with the last day of every second rally a Super Special Stage involving head-to-head racing on dual-circuit tracks. In single rally, you engage in solo rally competition in any of the available countries. In single stage, you race an individual stage of your choice. In time trial, you strive for the fastest times on any individual stage. Finally, in challenge, you face a knockout tournament where players race head-to-head in a series of elimination heats. The diversity of these conventional rally racing modes is excellent, giving you lots of chances to test different kinds of driving skills.
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