September 23, 2002
Colin McRae Rally 3.0 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price

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Check out the detail on the trees.
The Colin McRae series of rally games made a name for itself on the PSOne as the premiere rally racing series. Prior to its release on the 32-bit system, V-Rally reigned supreme, although that game was more of an arcade styled game then a simulation as is the case with the Colin McRae series. The first two PSOne titles have sold a whopping 4 million copies, so the pressure is on the development team to create something special. This third game, which has been in development for around 2 years now, is looking particularly impressive. If you're looking for a racing game this Christmas, then Colin McRae Rally 3.0 may be the game of choice. Strap in as this looks like one hell of a ride.

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Rallying in the snow will be tough.
This first thing that really hits you with this game is the massive increase in detail. The Ford Focus in Colin McRae 2.0, for instance, was made up of around 600 polygons. However this Playstation 2 title has bumped that up to a staggering 14,000 polygons which includes the driver, co-driver, rollcage and even spare wheel. Both McRae and co-driver Nicky Grist are fully animated and react to every movement of the car. Of course it's not just the cars the have been improved with Codemasters putting a lot of effort into the backgrounds. Trackside detail is also impressive with some wonderful trees, rocks and of course spectators lining the circuits.

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Check out the spectacular dust.
The main championship game is a gruelling series of races across eight international rallies: Japan, Spain, USA, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Australia and the UK. In all the game contains 56 stages to race in, each of which offers unique different challenges. As in real life, and although this game doesn't have the official license to use real tracks, the locations are varied and include different terrain including tarmac, gravel, dirt, and rain-soaked road surfaces. Each of the countries included in the game represents the look and feel of the actual locations.

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The interior car view.
The game includes 16 cars in total and includes rally gems such as Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7, Subaru Impreza WRX 44S, Ford Puma Rally, Fiat Punto Super 1600, MG ZR Rally Car, Ford RS200, Lancia 037, Citroen Saxo Kit Car, Citroen 2CV Sahara, Citroen Xsara Kit Car, Fiat Punto Rally Car, Ford Focus RS WRC 2002, Puma Rally Car, Subaru Impreza 22B Sti as well as additional bonus cars to be discovered. It certainly is a solid line-up and each of the cars is magnificantly detailed as you would expect.

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Passing through the checkpoint.
One of the most important aspect of rally car racing, and indeed this game, is the damage to the cars. Damage the car in this game and you will start to lose valuable seconds. As you can see in the screenshots to the left the damage is visible (cracked windscreen) on the cars. This damage extends to doors, boots and bonnets being torn right off the car, buckled wheels, broken lights and dents on the panels.

With a release not expected until early November there is plenty of time for Codemasters to polish this game off perfectly. Early builds shown mid-year were already looking, and playing, better then the competition, and while I will reserve final judgement until release, this game certainly seems to have everything in the right places to cause a stir.