Another older game that now perfectly suited to playing on my low spec Netbook is arcade rally sim, Colin Macrae 2.0 by Codemasters.
CMR2 was such a huge improvement on it predecessor with graphics that looked absolutely stunning back in the day and even today still look pretty darn good. I remember seeing some early screenshots of the game featured in an issue of PC Format magazine and hoping that my mid range PC at the time (P3 533mhz and Geforce 3 5oo Ti) would be powerful enough to run it. Today and on my Netbook, I can happily zip around the stages at a descent framerate with much of the graphics options still set reasonable high although turning on things like quality shadows and environmental mapping is a no go. It’s also one of only a handful of rally games that you can still play using the keyboard without fishtailing your car. No need to lug around a separate controller with this one.
There are many things to like about CMR2, one being that Codemasters had got the car handling physics just right to cater for the rally sim fan and the arcade racing fan. For example, you can thrash around the stages just like you would in Sega Rally and still come away with impressive times, or approach the game as a driving simulator with the cars perfectly answering to steering via the accelerator or allowing you to pull off the odd Scandi-flick to great effect 🙂
Sound it spot on to with a fairly descent engine noise that doesn’t become annoying and has all the engine whistles and pops you’d expect from a rally car. You also get a sound digitised co-driver in the form of Nicky Grise to keep you abreast of what’s coming up as you progress along the stage. – Gotta love those tight number 80mph type three corners with rock on one side and 100ft drop on the other!
I really started to get into the Rally Motorsport and the World Rally Championship around 1995 and have been a follower and spectator ever since then. Locally we have a few rallies each year and and i try to attend those that also feature a historic class…Suburu’s and Lancers are o.k but nothing beats seeing a MK1 or 2 Ford Escort, Stratos or Chevette getting a bit sidewards.
For me, the WRC was at it’s finest around the year 1999 – 2001 which is roughly the period when CMR2 was launched and contains some of the cars of that period such as the Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer, Suburu Imprezza and Peugeot 206 and although not an official endorsed product of the FIA, a simple modification could change the fictitious driver names to match real life counterparts enabling you to re-enact epic battles between Colin Macrae, Richard Burns, Tommi Makkenen, Marcus Gronholm and Carlos Sainz.
This could almost been a scene from outside at the moment as we had another dumping of snow last night…although compared to the US east coast, ours was a just a light dusting :-O Should be a rally-tastic commute into work this morning!
CMR2 has all the usual driving surfaces for a Rally game which suitably effects you car handling depending on the options you’ve chosen when setting up your car. Rally stages include forest dirt and gravel stages of Finland, Snow and ice in Sweden, a muddy and wet UK (typical!), boulder strewn gravel stages of Greece, smooth twisty tarmac stages in France and Italy and sun baked stages in Kenya and Australia. Add in variable weather elements and stages being run as various times of the day all provide a great challenge for the armchair drivers (night time driving in a blizzard anyone?)
There’s also a great arcade mode which places you a five or six other cars on a looped track. Finish in the top three to progress to the next track.
Start winning some rallies and you get access to some of the bonus (classic) vehicles including the Ford Escort, Stratos, Metro 6R4,Lancia, Peugeot 205 TI, Mini cooper and the mighty Ford Sierra Cossworth
Retro rally, Cossi style.
And like all good PC racing games it’s the modding communities that spring up around a great games and CMR2 certainly had it’s fair share. Back in the day there were many websites hosting addon game textures, new cars and skins and tools to allow you to extract the game files to produce your own.
I used to spend ages with the tools like ‘BFL-Works’ that would allow you to extract the car textures and edit them with a paint package. I think I did quite a few skins at one point, I wonder if there still lurking around on one of my CD archives?
Changing the Lancer texture so that it matched Tommi Makinens Evo.
Recreating the classic Paris-Dakar rallies of the 80’s with Peugeot 205 Turbo 16….and as you can see from the slightly bent roof line, I’ve had a bit of a mishap!
So, whether you’ve have a low spec netbook/laptop or indeed monster rig, hunt down CMR2 and give this old classic another test drive, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.