Return To Home Page
July 15, 2003
Colin Mcrae Rally 04 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
26/9/2003CodemastersCodemasters1-2$99.95

Click To  Enlarge Image
Check out the spectacular crashes.
What a surprise this has turned out to be. Although shown at the E3 show in May Codemasters surprised in early July by announcing that Colin McRae Rally 04 would be released in 2003 - and as early as September 2003 at that. Considering that Colin McRae Rally 3 only came out in Australia in November 2002 the developers felt that gamers wanted Colin McRae Rally 04 sooner rather then later. Don't let that put you off as the 50 strong development team has been working hard to add many new features and improvements to the game. Colin McRae Rally 04 is set to be the total rally video gaming experience with eight game modes, an advanced visual engine and an all-new style.

Click To  Enlarge Image
Heading down the narrow track.
One of the biggest changes to this game is the handling of the 20 rally cars on offer. Previously the car handling employed a steering aid, which had the effect of making the car move around a central pivot point. Now the aidís been removed, effectively taking the stabilizers off, providing for a more professional, realistic and natural handling experience and you'll notice the difference, especially when performing skids and power slides. This should take the game from a semi-realistic simulation to a full blown re-creation of the sport.

Click To  Enlarge Image
The car detail is stunning.
So what's new in this game then? Well as well as the previously mentioned 20 rally cars on offer the game includes 8 game modes including 4-wheel drive, 2-wheel drive, Group B and Expert Championships (with single and multiplayer options). The game incorporates 8 international rally locations (UK, Sweden, USA, Finland, Australia, Spain, Greece, Japan), 6 rally stages in each, 8 shakedown events, and 4 Superspecial stages. Naturally the game allows you to fully set-up and repair options and detailed pre-race stage briefings while the developers are including 3 damage levels - normal, advanced and expert damage settings. Perhaps the most exciting aspect is the 'damage cam' which allows you to see the impact on your car post-race. Finally the game will include testing challenges between races where you can earn new car technology by completing part tests between rallies.

Click To  Enlarge Image
The car detail is stunning.
The graphics have also undergone some changes for the better. Colin McRae Rally 04 includes a new, faster game engine for improved textures, new animated environments, and incredibly detailed terrain visuals. Enhanced replay cameras and new in-game "bumper cam" also feature. The video footage seen shows a high frame rate in the game as well as realistic real-time damage on the cars. The lighting and particle effects also deserve a special mention with rays of sunlight through the trees, dust being kicked up from the car and mud sticking to the panels.

Says Gary Dunn, Codemastersí Director of Development: "Itís all in the detail; the team has enhanced the already-powerful physics engine to make each car handle even more realistically and instinctively. Cars are modeled heavier and have more attributes added to the engine. From Colin McRae Rally 3, we've also increased the number of terrain surface types from 20 to 34, and tyre types from 10 to 19, to ensure the handling on different surfaces and weather conditions is more accurate than ever before."

Click To  Enlarge Image
Check out the sunset.
There is little doubt that Colin McRae Rally 04 will once again be a magnificent racing game. With the promised improved physics engine the game should feel more realistic - something which the previous game needed. With a release date currently set for September 2003 there isn't long until this game hits the shelves, and at this stage of development it looks like another winner. The only question remains if owners of Colin McRae Rally 3 will be interested in paying another $100 for this game so soon. For those that never shelled out on the previous title buying this one is almost a no brainer.