Colin McRae is seemingly everywhere in the world of rally racing. From
a gamer's standpoint, at least, that's how it seems. It feels like it
wasn't too long ago when we saw Colin McRae's name attached to a racing
title on one platform or another. The newest title for the Game Boy
Advance is Colin McRae 2.0, which implies there must have been an
earlier title that I hadn't known of but it's just as good because Colin
McRae 2.0 feels like a polished product that's undergone more than a few
The visuals constitute as the most appealing part of Colin McRae 2.0.
Compared to other racers I've seen, the car models in here are a
phenomenal improvement. Licensed from real rally vehicles, the whole
spectrum from Subaru to Colin's very own Ford Focus is represented here.
Mind you, this isn't just any Focus you can buy walking to a Ford dealer
(and it most certainly isn't the one that has suffered more than ten
recalls so early in its lifecycle!). Moreover, you're allowed the
freedom to tweak your cars using rewards accrued with winning races.
But you have to be careful, as even repairs to existing subsystems will
show up on your bill when you take it to the shop.
On the racetrack, the cars have a certain amount of fullness or volume
to them. For any other racing game, most of the time, you'll be looking
at the bumper of your vehicle. If end up looking at the front of your
vehicle, you know you're doing something horribly wrong. However, for
rally style racing, where you constantly swerve left and right, you'll
find that the beefier car models react more realistically and you'll see
much more than just the rear bumper.
Comparatively speaking, the models here are still crude. The terrain is
heavily pixilated and the cars themselves feature very little animation.
The tires, for example, look like immobile square blocks. Still, for a
handheld title, this title looks sharp and promising. I know many
people think we make excuses for handheld titles because ultimately,
they are handheld titles. But the screenshots you see for this one are
not reflective of the final product. Without the best lighting
conditions available, you simply won't see many of the imperfections.
Another beefy part of Colin McRae 2.0 is the depth in the racing
available. For starters, you have the rally mode which links different
parts of a course together from point A to B; albeit, it never is a
straight line between these two points. Conquering the World Rally
Championship is done here. The second mode is an arcade mode, where you
race in closed racetracks. That means the racing will loop back from
beginning to end until you finish a preset amount of laps. However, the
path between start and finish is also not a single straight line.
Without an auto-map, rally racing is tough. Some turns are shallow but
more often than not, upcoming turns can be very sharp; perilous even, if
you're hitting at them at full speed. With the heavily reduced draw
distance of the Game Boy Advance, you'll come to depend on Colin's
co-driver, Nicky Grist. His instructions are about as exciting as
someone narrating a chess match (Rook to E6 type of tone). However,
you'll soon find his directions timely and useful in gaining that extra
edge when trying to pass a field of sixteen vehicles. The digital
voices samples he gives throughout the game effectively provide a
heads-up to you for the duration of the race.
Unfortunately, that's only for rally races. During the arcade races,
he's completely silent (so are the on-screen turn signals) and a map
never materializes, forcing you to memorize all the turns before
actually racing; a significant inconvenience.
Another notable drawback is the volume control. There are three streams
of audio going at any point during the game (two if you only count the
arcade mode). There's the engine's whine. There's also the ambient
music, which tries its best to maintain an upbeat mood. Finally, you
also have the co-driver voice samples. There's no way to change the
volume for each individual stream. The engine, for example, makes the
music all but useless, unless you remix your own records with car noises
like a recent automobile commercial I keep seeing. Luckily, the
co-driver's monotone voice comes out loud and clear above everything
Drawbacks aside, Colin McRae 2.0 offers a small glimpse of how intense
rally racing can be as you plow through tracks full of gravel, snow, mud
and dirt. While it's the first Colin McRae product to hit the Game Boy
Advance, it feels like an established title that I hope we'll be seeing
on a perennial basis. It's all about anticipation and using the two gas
and brake pedals to get some connection going between the driver and
machine to achieve a singular goal. That type of special relationship,
where the human-machine duo work as one, is what driving is really all
about. When you get down to the bottom of it all, rally racing is
pretty fun. On the Game Boy Advance, your vehicle or ticket to that fun
will most likely be Colin McRae 2.0.