Colin McRae Rally 2005
Surely not. In the increasingly cluttered PC sporting calendar, the dour Scot's domain is traditionally early spring, the annual tyres n' mud update coinciding with the green shoots of recovery. Not this time though, which sees the PC version finally securing a simultaneous release with its console counterparts.
What this means is that it's been scarcely six months since Colin McRae Rally 04, which is actually still installed on my PC, along with numbers two and three. And you know what? I honestly can't tell the difference (there's the quote for the box).
This isn't necessarily a criticism, as there's only so much that can be done with a graphically accelerated rally car tearing round a series of global locations. The mantra this time round appears to be more, more, more', with 2005 boasting literally shitloads of tracks and cars. Throw in a championship where you get to be' Colin McRae, along with an extensive career mode, and there's plenty here to keep rally fans chomping at the bit.
Faster And Smoother
The game is also noticeably quicker, with Codemasters claiming that it's a third faster than before, although this surely depends on how fast you choose to drive. That said, following the enforced caution of the ultra-realistic Richard Bums Rally, it's refreshing to be able to floor it, knowing that clipping a tree stump won't bring your race to a premature end.
That's not to say there aren't some spectacular crashes, and they're accompanied by a new dazing effect, the visual equivalent of being punched in the temple. Other minor tweaks include such subtleties as leaves falling gently from the tree that you've just desecrated.
The difference would appear to be in the detail, and it's not merely cosmetic, with a new hard steer function lessening the reliance on the handbrake.
Elsewhere, Nicky Grist is back in the passenger seat, and listening to his nasal directions is more important than ever as there are some wilfully misleading stages.
Essentially though, it's business as usual: gripping solo racing over exquisitely fashioned locales. Almost by default, it's the best rally game available, but whether that's enough to encourage you to fork out again if you've already got Colin 04 is debatable.
Having set the bar so high, it was never going to be a huge leap from the previous incarnation. Big things are promised for number six - with McRae himself even promising to help out now he's without a regular drive. For now though, this year's model is simply treading water. And mud.
If You Can't wait until Colin's latest offroading adventures in the mucky-sounding DIRT later this year, then the last and best outing for the muddy Scot was CMR2005.
Like most rally games, it involves racing with a manic map-reading codriver (Nicky Grist here) over several stages against the clock - the car with the best overall time wins.
CMR2005 had over 30 authentic cars, eight locations (including snowbound Sweden and dusty USA) and tons of options for getting under the bonnet and affecting everything from traction balance to choice of music. Graphics are last-gen, but the vehicle handling and feeling of being just on the edge between success and tree-hitting disaster is still spot-on.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode