1998 - Colin mcrae rally
A pure and exilerating game, showed that the WRC can be a fun and enjoyable game.
1999 - colin mcrae rally 2.0
More arcade feel over the first, but neat and enjoyable package with more options.
2002- colin mcrae rally 3
Only able to use McRaes Focus turned alot of people away from this.
2003 - colin mcrae rally 4
Heavy cars plauged this title, but still had much love from didicated fans
colin mcrae rally 2005
Finally a deadicated rally career mode, but too little too late. The series was dying.
2007 - colin mcrae dirt
Over shadowed by Colins death. The series is reinvented and plays brilliantly.
2009 - dirt 2
Rock out in the company of Ken and his friends. Poss still best DiRT to date. Just Awesome!
2011 - dirt 3
Ken Block brings us Gymkhana. love it or hate it, its his thing.
2012 - dirt: showdown
Ignored everything before it and bought us Destruction and Mayhem.
Colin Mcrae rally
I first got into rally in 1997, my father bought the game Rally Cross when he finally purchased a PlayStation 1, we spent hours traversing the various terrain’s and surfaces, each one challenging and different in its own way. We even got the 4 player multi-tap so we could play split screen with more people. The idea of using everyday cars on tracks other than the road was so unique and I was hooked from there. My friends pointed me in the way of the WRC on Television and it became my number one sport even over football.
In 1999 Colin McRae 2.0 hit the shelves and I pressed my parents into getting it for me. It was instantly my best game. Being able to drive the cars that I saw on TV was brilliant with the real drivers names made me feel like one of them. The concept of the point to point rather than a circuit took a while to get my head round. I could easily remember the circuits on Rally Cross, but with Colin McRae Rally, the whole track was different. It took a while but I began to love racing against the clock. No other drivers getting in my way or to bash me off the track. If I messed up it was my fault and my fault alone. With McRae himself moving to Ford and driving the new Focus, there was a big push towards driving that, but my heart was always with the Subaru Impreza. Its night blue paint job with the iconic yellow decals nothing else compared.
The game was very similar to Rally Cross, the cars felt light to steer and responsive, even on ice. The graphics even for its time were great. The sounds and atmosphere was well replicated from what I saw on the TV. Of course I was the envy of my friends and they would come round always trying to beat each other’s times. When we got bored we would see who could destroy our cars first. We would drive into trees at 100mph, drive off cliffs and into rivers, nothing would kill these cars. In the end we had to make do with the back bumper dragging along the road behind us and black smoke pouring from the bonnet. I later found Colin McRae Rally in a second hand game shop and used my pocket money to get it. It felt a lot different, a more authentic rally
experience. Despite it having the older cars like Escorts, it was good and make me realise that the WRC wasn’t the arcade game Colin McRae 2.0 was.
When I got a PS2 2.0 was still played, but the newer generation of graphics were begging for the next instalment. A friend of mine managed to pick up a copy of Colin McRae 3 before I could and I whizzed round his house to play it. We we’re both disappointed with the game, stuck only using McRae’s Focus and the licencing of the cars and the other drivers names had gone. I now know because the WRC had jumped on the band wagon and made their own officially licenced game. So I saved my money and got something else. When Colin McRae 4 came round I was eager to get it no matter what, with no Rally fix for a year, I was desperate. But once again I was disappointed, I could put up with the licencing and such, but the cars where so heavy, you could no longer whip them round corners; everything required carful braking and precision. Something I could not do, even to this day. I‘d like to say I am an above average driver, but every stage or track I will crash. This one off mishap will cost you 10 or 20 seconds on a stage, enough to go from 1st to 5th on a timed race. So it was no longer played and traded in with a few weeks. Later I found on shelves WRC 2 Extreme, what peaked my interest was the cover, it had all the licenced cars. I looked on the back and it had all the real names and same locations used on the
WRC. Right we’ll try this.
It was brilliant, the gameplay, style and pace everything just worked. I will go on record and say it’s my favourite WRC/Rally game to this day. One thing I did notice was that Colin McRae was NOT in the drivers list, by this time we was third driver for Citroen, but his brother Alistair McRae was featured but Colin wasn’t. At this point the WRC was hitting its peak, Loeb was just starting his career and making waves while several veterans where nearing the end of their careers wanting to go out with style. I noticed other titles crop up, Richard Burns Rally, where if you crashed that was it, Rally over. This put me off, with my inability to remain crash free. It seemed the Colin McRae franchise was nearing the end.
WRC3 cemented its dominance and although Colin McRae 2005 finally gave fans what they wanted with a dedicated career mode, starting as a rookie and proving yourself against McRae himself. It was too little too late. Colin left the WRC with one championship and 25 Rally wins to peruse other challenges. The Dakar and Le Mans 24 both helped shape how Colin McRae would return.
DiRT was hugely anticipated on the next generation consoles. How would Colin McRae reinvent himself in an ever growing and demanding environment? My first impressions where bad, the lack of point to point rally was the main reason I got it. But as the more I played it the more I realised what they had done to bring it back from the dead. The WRC was dying, people watching was dropping and manufactures we’re pulling out every season, point to point wasn’t enough anymore to bring in the customers. But the variety of vehicles and throwing in the circuits, felt like it was a step back in the past, but it worked. To this today I can’t fault DiRT, the way the cars throw up the sand and dust, the feel of all the cars and trucks, everything felt good. Colin McRae had learnt a few things while being away and it all showed in his new game. However, soon after it’s realise the worst happened.
The news of Colin McRae’s helicopter accident, claiming not only his live but his son and two if his son’s friends rocked the world and myself. The icon that had brought Rallying to the UK had gone; this made my love for DiRT grow even more. My own personal way of paying respect to the man so many adored, loved and followed for so many years.
DiRT 2 was a shock when I pushed it into my PlayStation 3. The heavy rock music and these strange people saying awesome and radical every 5minutes was unexpected to say the least. I finally knew who Ken Block was when Top Gear showed you what he did with his Gymkhana and it clicked the new face of DiRT. I like the Americans and can easily put up with their over enthusiastic way of speaking, and to be honest you wouldn’t what a sad game, reflecting on the memory of Colin and his tragedy. Life goes on and things change, DiRT 2 added much needed life and energy into the DiRT series. Opting for a more arcade pace over the first, it worked and I loved every minute. Willing to put the extra effort and get the Platinum trophy. The special Rally and video in memory of Colin was a lovely touch and even brought a tear to my eye as I watched it. Codemasters didn’t have to add it, and could have easily said, “Colin’s gone, here’s his replacement.” But they didn’t, it was a great thing for them to do and I respect them for it.
However, DiRT3 was all about Ken Block. Gymkhana is his thing so it featured heavily in the next instalment, much to my annoyance. It’s all about precision driving, getting the right momentum and hitting the right markers. I cannot do this to save my life. Thank fully I only rented it to begin with, and was put off straight away. The game had lost the chat and encouragement from the people of DiRT2, I know a lot of players couldn’t stand it. But it helped as you went from one race to the next, it felt like they we’re managing you and pointing you in the right direction. I even rage quitted and they gave me words of encouragement for next time. DiRT3 felt, play the next race because you have too, didn’t feel like you we’re being managed and getting the attention as you built your reputation. I skipped every Gymkhana event and completed what I could in the time I had it and returned back to the shop from once it came and I thought that was it. However, my time with a few unnamed Squigglies reignited my interest in the game and I somehow found myself with a copy once again. It is now finished and with after endless hours trying I still cannot do Gymkhana. The compound missions were a waste of time for me, but it was an epic playground for the online party modes, which for me is what I shall remember the most.
Showdown is not what I expected, Codmasters have ditched everything that made Colin McRae Rally and DiRT and gave us Destruction Derby. But if you can see past what you expect and play it, its brilliance shows. For a decade I have craved a new Destruction Derby game, well now I have it, just not in the package I expected. The direction they have taken with this spin off, the atmosphere of the crowd and cheer when cars collide is something truly unique and technology these days it not only looks good, it plays good. The cars impact and crumble as they should, no disappearing thou each other or through side walls like with PS1 games, these cars feel every impact they take. Obviously it’s now purely arcade, but a game like this wouldn’t work if it wasn’t. Gymkhana has been swapped for a friendlier hooligan mode. It looks the same, but I can actually play this now. Not sure if a lot of people complained that it was too difficult in DiRT3 and they’ve
toned it down, but it’s actually enjoyable now. I miss the point to point rally of the WRC, but games have evolved and need more than one game type to be entertaining today. I like having to upgrade my cars, but I miss the option to change the appearance like you could with NFS underground. It still hasn’t the chit chat from DiRT2 and the singleplayer feels a grind, being bashed off the road on the very last corner falling from 1st to 7th is borderline rage inducing. Online with friends isn’t so much a problem, because you just call them names and get your own back “Clint Tokley” but with an AI you can shout and throw your controller at the screen all day and it will just say Replay Race.
The FIA WRC series have begun again and filled that gap left by Colin McRae Rally, but I’ve looked on the back of the latest and it now incorporates party modes and other gameplay as well. To look back at the first Colin McRae Rally and compare it to DiRT3, the franchise is unrecognizable. But 15years of evolving will do that, games need to change and match what people want to remain popular. My interest in the WRC may have dropped in recent years, but my love for driving in the sand, mud and snow hasn’t. I hope DiRT4 will bring the series back to basics and have a dedicated Rally career as well has the other modes, that’s where the game began and grew and that’s what most fans want. Colin McRae will always be remembered for his
flamboyant and reckless style. Driving on the edge even when he didn’t need to, he had a desire to win no matter what the cost. It was replicated in his games and is sorely missing from the series today.
"If in doubt, flat out!"