Colin McRae Rally 04 Review

Time to hit the dirt, in Codemasters' latest off-road racing game.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 21st April 2004

Colin McRae Rally 04

  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Publisher: Codemasters
  • Release Date: 2nd April 2004

The Colin McRae Rally games have been around for a long time now and have provided gamers with a realistic simulation of the popular motor sport, but now with Mr McRae hanging up his world rallying keys it seems this could be the last outing to the grand father of the Rallying genre.

Colin McRae Rally 04 sees a return to the series original Championship format after CMR3 focused on playing as Mr McRae for three championships driving his Ford Focus. From the off everything is available to the player, the usual game modes are present such as Rally, Stages and Championship in both four and two wheel drive variations. The game also includes a multiplayer option which you can play head to head or cooperatively. As with previous games Colin McRae Rally 04 features several unlockables such as bonus cars that are intended to reward players for playing through the various modes.

There are no real major advancements in Colin McRae 04 although there are lots of subtle differences that make the games driving experience slightly more compelling to that found in the excellent CMR3. The most notable difference is the way the cars handle, corners are executed in a much more realistic fashion as cars tend to slide through them more, just like rally cars do in the real world.

On the whole, Colin McRae Rally 04 should provide players with a decent challenge; the game encourages you to look after your car as you can pick up minor damage to the suspension and tyres just getting through the various stages of rallies. Of course though when things do go wrong the game features an excellent damage system, tyres will get punctured and eventually come off the rims and if you drive head on into a tree your cars radiator is likely to burst which will lead to its engine over heating and continually cutting out. The usually body work damage is also present with every part of the car seemingly able to fall off. Damage can also only be repaired at service areas which can be several stages apart so it’s important not to drive too recklessly and to look after your car, although if you do burst a tyre you can fit your spare wheel at the end of any stage providing you can reach the end.

Car setup in CMR04 actually does play an important part in the game you should be able to notice a difference both visually and in performance, not getting the setup quite right will also lead to increased tyre wear and poorer performance.

A nice addition to the series is also getting the opportunity to test new parts for your car, occasionally you will be given a challenge to test a new car part and if you meet the criteria of the challenge you will be awarded that part for your car increasing its performance.

For the first time Colin McRae Rally 04 features a “Group B” season, although you will need to complete the championship mode at least once before this becomes available, but once it is unlocked you have the chance to get behind the wheel of some old power houses.

Graphically the game is excellent car models and environments are excellent, and while the game has lost some its regular camera options the cockpit view is exceptional with brilliant dust particles and rain obscuring your view as it would do in real-life.

Sound as usual is of the highest quality, sound effects from the cars are fantastic but the game really excels with your co-drivers instructions which are clear, highly accurate and spoken in an extremely authentic manner.

The Colin McRae games have been around for sometime and have been regarding as the benchmark rallying game for the genre just as long and although this latest instalment doesn’t really make any major steps forward it has been improved in a number of ways and although there’s probably not enough to entice owners of CMR3 to pickup a copy its highly recommended to every other rallying fan.

Review Score: 8.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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