Colin McRae Rally 2005 «

I’m not a fan of handheld racers. To me, if it’s on a portable system and isn’t named Mario Kart, it’s crap. My gripes haven’t been without reason. In the past, the bulk of portable racers have been in one of two categories: Pole Position style or Mode-7 style. Both of these are archaic and just don’t look or play that well. After all, consoles have polygonal car models, 3D worlds, and all kinds of bells and whistles. Why can’t portable racers have the same? Now they do.

First, let me list off some of the stats. You have 16 cars from well-known makers like Audi and Subaru. There are 64 stages, taking place in a plethora of environments. You can tune your tires, gearbox, steering, and a number of different aspects to accommodate your driving style, the type of surface you’re racing on, and other factors. Now tell me: does that sound like a handheld racer to you?

Colin 2005 isn’t just able to talk the talk; it can … uh, drive the drive. Like other rally games, you’re competing against the clock in unforgiving courses. You’ll easily spend as much time sliding into curves as you do rocketing through straightaways. Color-coded markers and a very British navigator will warn you of the upcoming perils and turns, but don’t be surprised if you go careening onto the lawn anyway. Hey, it’s all good; the courses are very open, meaning you’ll eventually meet back up with the road more traveled.

Replays show some sweet closeups.

The championship mode is truly long. You tackle circuit after circuit, trying to come out on top. It’s a little lonely without some real-time competition, but the levels are diverse enough that you’ll enjoy the scenery. Big buildings, exotic foliage, and cheering spectators all look great. Pictures don’t do this game’s graphics justice; it hangs right in there with the best racers on PSone.

The physics of Colin 2005 are also impressive. Your car shifts, careens, and even catches air in realistic fashion. I enjoyed hitting tiny objects around the course to watch them get sent flying from the impact. Ideaworks really didn’t skimp on anything to deliver this acclaimed rally series to N-Gage.

This game is made for Shadow Racing, so I’m grateful that N-Gage Arena support was included. Racing a ghost is just much more fun than trying to get the best time. I know the beat-the-clock philosophy is what rally racing are all about, but I get lonely out there — especially with no music to speak of. However, the sound effects are topnotch. Wheel screechings are especially nice.

Head-to-head Bluetooth races also give you another car to occupy the courses, and the experience is as seamless as you’d expect. If I had to pick one type of racing sub-genre to play, rally wouldn’t be it (I’m a bigger fan of Destruction Derby 2 or the Burnout series). Regardless, Colin McRae Rally 2005 is a stunning achievement on N-Gage, and handheld gaming as a whole. If you’ve been dissatisfied with driving on the go like I have, take this baby for a spin.


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