CodeMasters has built a solid reputation with their stable of racing games: Colin McRae Rally, Colin McRae: Dirt, Grid, TOCA and F1. Of those, my favorite have always been the Colin McRae games because they blend a simulation experience with a subtle arcade feel– a balance seldom seen in the racing genre. iOS has seen classic ports leave many a fanboy disappointed, but I’m glad to report that Colin McRae Rally has gotten the treatment it deserves.
Racing games have evolved in the 13 years since the release of Colin McRae Rally 2.0. Today, racing games feature rewind, easy difficulty options, and the ability to turn off damage. You will find none of these features in Colin McRae Rally. Slam into a tree and ruin your engine? Tough luck, there is no option to turn off damage. Having a difficult time beating your opponent? Better practice more, because there is no easy difficulty.
Colin McRae Rally isn’t meant for the faint of heart. It’s for the hardcore. It relishes in the punishment of perfecting each drift and sharp turn. This is a scenario that creates quite a catch-22: This game is a dream for the racing hardcore, but it’s a migraine for the racing beginner.
Colin McRae Rally features three modes. Two of them– single race and random rally– are forgetable. Championship mode, on the other hand, delivers as the game’s heart and soul. It features rallys that cover over 30 unique stages in destinations such as Austrailia, Greece, and Corsica. As you compete in each rally your time is accumulated, and if you have the best total time, you win that specific rally. Some rallys only require 12 stages, but others require 24 stages, which means completing and winning each rally will take some time. This could be an exhausting task on a mobile device, but in the end it’s well worth the time and effort. One sorely missed mode is Multiplayer. You would think multiplayer would have been a natural addition, since so many racing games have that feature, but don’t look for it here, because you won’t find it.
As mentioned previously, damage is an option that can’t be turned off, so to keep your car running effectively, accurate driving is a requirement. There are limited opportunities to fix your vehicle after every two stages in Championship mode, as you are give an allotted amount of points to fix damage. As you progress ,you are given fewer points, and the driving becomes more difficult. It is an aggressive system, but greatly rewards superb driving.
Control-wise, the touch/tilt controls are quite nice and make rally racing feel like a natural fit for iOS. In terms of visuals, the graphics don’t approach Real Racing 3 fidelity, but they do deliver nice enough car models and damage effects. Texture pop-ins occasionally happne, and at times the framerate can be rather sluggish. Even with a few visual mishaps, the game is still one of the better looking racing titles for iOS.
Colin McRae Rally does suffer from a few limitations. The game only features four cars, with no true distinction in their mechanics. The ability to fine turn the performance of the cars is missing, as is an option for manual transmission. These are three missed opportunities that won’t sit well with the racing purist.
Colin McRae Rally brings back memories of the past, at least for long-time racing fans. It’s a classic racer that puts an emphasis on precision. If you are a tried and true racing fan, this game is for you. If you’re a little dependent on the modern conveniences of the racing genre, be prepared for a challenge. All in all, Colin McRae is a worthy port, in that it delivers an effective console experience on a mobile device. It also gives hope that CodeMasters will bring many more racing titles to iOS, because if Colin McRae Rally is any indication, the entire Dirt series will feel right at home on iOS devices.