Colin McRae Rally 4

Games - Colin McRae Rally 4 Review PS2
Colin McRae Rally 4 Review PS2

The fourth instalment of the Colin McRae brand of rallying is now here, it boasts better handling, more cars, improved graphics and new modes of play. To see if Colin McRae 4 lives up to the hype, read on.

Colin McRae 3 offered only one car to compete with, now Codemasters have introduced a plethora of cars to complete. You can find all the 4x4 WRC cars that you will be accustomed to plus all the 2wd WRC championship cars. Plus Codemasters have included some of the great Group B rally cars from the eighties such as the Lancia and Audi Quattro. These cars were so fast that they were banned from racing. You have the choice of three rally championships of your choice 4-wheel drive, 2-wheel drive and the Group B cars. Each championship has two difficulty levels normal or advanced. The Group B championship skill levels are set a little higher - you will have the choice of professional or expert difficulty settings. The expert

Games - Colin McRae Rally 4 Review PS2

championship will have you driving on the toughest stages with the view locked to in-car and you will have to use the manual gear box, plus the damage settings are very sensitive in this very tricky difficultly setting.

New to Colin McRae 4 is the testing of new parts for you car. This will give your team an advantage in the development of new parts for you car. You will have to earn technology points though a series of mini games within the championship. These mini games are tests that take place in various countries and each will be different depending on what part you will be testing. If you're taking part in an engine test you will have to complete the test successfully in order to gain the new part. As you increase the number of new parts on your car, your performance will be enhanced helping you to compete in the forthcoming rallies of the championship.

Codemasters say that the old Colin McRae physics engine had a driving aid which had the effect of the car moving around a central pivot point. Now this pivot point (driving aid) has now been removed and the results are noticeable. Previous Colin McRae rally games never, in my opinion, replicated all the effects a real car has under certain conditions. Colin McRae and most other rally games for that fact have been very biased to producing great over-steering cars, but they have never really exploited the negative effects of under-steer. Now Colin McRae seems to have made some progress in this department. For example if you don't apply enough power in a slow corner the car will under-steer. Should you apply the brakes mid corner at the wrong point the car will carry on moving forwards without turning. If you do make this error it isn't quite so easy to rectify as previous games, because once you are moving forward with the brakes locked you will also get a bit of a surprise when you release the brakes, the car will usually produce under-steer making it a little harder for you to make the corner after your first driving error. In these situations the car will look to move a little awkwardly on the road with the weight of the car shifting around just like it would in real life. You might have thought this would make Colin McRae 4 more difficult and in some ways it is - until you understand the physics of the car. After getting accustomed to the new handling the car will obey your every move.

While playing Colin McRae 4 I did run in to some problems which are small but they did disrupt the game play somewhat. Firstly while taking part in the first rally I ran off the road quite severely, so much so that it took a good 10-15 second for me to get the car back on the road. I was not placed back on to the road automatically. Then I took a fairly shallow corner with some spectators and some red ribbon on the side of the road. As soon as the back of my car caught the red ribbon, the game stopped and placed me back in the middle of the track, even though I had not actually left the road and I was travelling flat out. This confused me a bit as previously I was not placed back on to the road at all. As this did not happen again I believe it was just a glitch but it wasn't a very good first impression.

Secondly, on the same first rally I was travelling flat out on a very wide piece of straight road and my car instantly stopped as if I have driven straight into a brick wall. This was incredibly annoying as I was on for a great time and first position. I selected the replay and checked to see if there was any kind of obstacle in the middle of the road, but as I suspected there was absolutely nothing there. This also has not happened since, but if it did happen when I played the game I reckon it could happen to anyone. These are not massive problems that kept appearing, but none the less they where extremely irritating. With the difficulty level set to normal Colin McRae 4 offers a reasonable challenge and it is perfect if you are not a rally veteran, but the seasoned rally fans will find this setting a little too easy so you should opt for the higher difficulty setting.

How does Colin McRae 4 compare to WRC II Extreme? Well I believe WRC II Extreme was the best rally game on the market and I still think it is the best game on the market. It creates a better challenge; the cars feel like they are making real contact with the road surface and it looks fantastic. Colin McRae 4 in my opinion has closed the gap but you still get that floating feeling when compared to the solid handling of WRC II Extreme.

Colin McRae does offer some nice additions such as the parts testing in the Championship mode and the addition of the Group B cars is a nice touch. Graphically there is not much between each of these fantastic games, WRC probably has a slightly smoother appearance and CM4 has clear bold visuals. The novice will probably prefer the accessibility and the arcade feel of CM4 while rally veterans will probably go for the simulation feel of WRC II Extreme. These games are so good it is almost impossible to split them it will always come down to personal preference so make sure you own them both.

9.0 out of 10

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