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December 18, 2002
Colin McRae Rally 3 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
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Check out the car detail.
Codemasters' Colin McRae Rally games made a name for themselves on the PSOne as the premiere rally racing series upon the first games release in early 2000. 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 was on the development team to create something special. This third game, which has been in development for over 2 years, manages to live up to the previous titles, and then some.

Colin McRae Rally 3 includes 16 cars in total and includes 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 magnificently detailed as you would expect.

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Cars get dirty, and damaged.
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.

One of the interesting things about this title is the handling of the cars. Compared to WRC II Extreme the cars have a more "floaty" feel and don't bump around the tracks as much. I've never driven a rally car myself but I have watched a considerable amount on TV and the cars tend to be thrown around a lot more then in this game. Still, it makes this game a lot more accessible to the casual gamer. The cars are responsive and the combination of brakes and handbrake turns works extremely well.

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Kicking up the dust.
One of the most important aspects 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.

All-in-all this is a fine game and there really is little to complain about in Colin McRae Rally 3. As previously mentioned the cars seem a little floaty and aren't prone to taking the bumps on the road which you would expect. The victories are also a little disappointing on the podiums, but it's no worse then any other game.

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Check out the stunning rain effects.
As you would have seen in the surrounding screenshots this game has had a massive increase in detail over the PSOne games. The Ford Focus in Colin McRae 2.0, for instance, was made up of around 600 polygons. This Playstation 2 game has seen that number jump up to a staggering 14,000 polygons which includes the driver, co-driver, roll cage and even spare wheel. Both McRae and (now ex) 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 impressive with some wonderful trees, rocks and of course spectators lining the circuits. Visual effects such as dust, rain and show deserve a special mention as they are second to none. The game maintains a solid frame rate, but interestingly it's quite a bit slower then Sony's WRC II Extreme released a couple of weeks ago. The game also includes some small moments of pop-up although they are small enough not to really distract from the gameplay.

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The snow filled levels are excellent.
Sound-wise this game is as impressive as can be expected. The music is catchy and suits the ruggedness of the sport perfectly while the co-driver shouts out the corners. At times however he seemed to get behind where you are on the track or says things too early. It's a little distracting when he's telling you to turn left but you are already up to the next right hand corner.

Overall Colin McRae Rally 3 is a great title. The graphics are still a little bland compared to the more photo realistic style of Sony's WRC II Extreme, and there is the odd bit of slowdown, but apart from that this is a great title. Even without an official license this game gives the impression of real locations very well and with well over 50 stages to compete in this isn't a game you'll breeze through. Racing game fans should have a look at this very polished effort.

GRAPHICSGraphically teh game is a little disappointing, but it's fairly smooth.
SOUNDSolid co-driver calling is backed by solid music and engine effects.
GAMEPLAYCodemasters have a balance between being a simulation, and yet fun.
VALUEPlenty of tracks and cars on offer. This game will keep you going.
OVERALLColin McRae Rally 3 is easily one of the best rally racing games ever seen. There are a couple of slight disappointments such as the visuals, but the overall gameplay experience is tremendous. If you like rally games then this worth consideration.

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