Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:37
Category: iOS, Review, Software, Software
Review: Colin McRae Rally iOS
By Mr. S
Rally racing is a mystery to most. A marginalized sport that has a hard time in certain countries finding mass appeal. Like other european sports, it has had an especially hard time in the United States where the name “Colin McRae” is about as well known as canadian metal band Anvil.
Take a trip to Finland, Scotland or Darkur and you will see the exact opposite. Rally is king, and its master drivers are lauded as superhuman for their ability to drive with total precision through some of the most technically challenging road courses known to man. These are not well-groomed good ol’ boys taking left turns as fast as possible. These were chip-toothed men of true grit risking their lives for the sake of perfection. For those who understand rally racing, it’s the drivers who receive the most admiration, because it takes a special kind of man to take a 90 degree corner at 70 mph on a dirt road the width of a Mini Cooper surrounded by trees that could turn your car into scrap metal the moment you slip up. That’s the kind of legend Colin McRae was. He was the Flying Scot, and until his untimely death in 2007 he was one of the most exciting drivers since Ari Vatanen.
Getting to know rally and the men who participate in it is imperative to understanding why Codemasters was smart to take extreme care in making the Colin McRae series of racing games. The equivalent would be something like putting Michael Jordan on the cover of your NBA game; players are going to be expecting perfection and anything less will be bollocks. Not even the king of simulation, Gran Tourismo, with its amazing rally mode can match what Codemasters has done with this amazing series. Racing legend Hans Stuck famously drove his cars with only a small piece of cloth on his seat. He says “Its important I have a physical connection with my vehicle, I need to feel the sliding.” It’s that same attention to “feel” that makes Colin McRae exceptional, and it’s why this iOS port is amazing. Even though it’s just a quick port of a thirteen-year-old game for the original Playstation and PC.
And this game does not try to hide its age. Tree textures pop in and out, levels are basically ugly skinny corridors with hyper-flat surfaces, and objects that you should be able to crush or roll over stop you dead. The once-fun animated menu system with a funky 90’s soundtrack cool enough to warrant its own YouTube OST video was taken out to save space. All we’re left with is a Fisher Price style main menu with a whopping three icons and one lonesome techno track looping.
All of this is forgiven, though, because they didn’t label it as a port or “HD” remake. They simply named it “Colin McRae Rally”, but more importantly they left in everything that makes the Colin McRae Rally experience fun.
Codemasters made sure every little detail is pitch-perfect from how gravel sounds in a wheel well to how your wheels screech and pick up grip when sliding sideways onto a paved road. They even included the oft-overlooked and distinctive sound of a handbrake being used. While the audio is well-designed, it’s the physics that really steal the show. Rally cars have an insane amount of power, and this game does a really good job of putting that power in the hands of the player. You can see your suspension working when you slam on the breaks or take a corner hard, you can feel the difference in handling when you change gear ratios. It all works together to solidify that you are indeed flying down a european backroad at speeds that would make most men weep.
It’s the love for rally that really shines through in the Colin McRae series, and thankfully this iOS port brings that love of the sport and the attention to detail that comes with it to the App Store. For racing fans burned out on Real Racing, it’s an absolute must.
Colin McRae Rally retails for US$2.99 on the App Store and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.