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Colin McRae Rally 2005

We reckon these licensed rally games are cursed. First Richard Burns has to withdraw from the WRC because of a brain tumour, and now Colin McRae doesn't even have a team for the upcoming season.

Maybe that's why big Col seems to be taking less of a role. McRae 04 lets you create your own rally driver, and 2005's big new addition is a huge Career Mode that starts you off puttering through ditches in weedy two-wheel drives and ends with you fighting for the World Championship in 400 brake horsepower beasts.

Drive Me McRae-zy
There are over 30 cars to unlock and collect, including all the usual suspects like Soobs and Mitsus to new faces like wee Minis and Volkswagen Beetles. You'll even be able to plough through pedestrians with brutally powerful (and banned) Group B motors.


Every component can be tweaked and tuned through a range of cool menus, but if you can't be arsed you can just jump into the driver's seat and floor it without being punished.

After being thrashed by Richard Burns Rally's hardcore rally whiplash, McRae 2005 is a refreshing change. The handling system's always balanced arcade slip-slideyness with simulation responsiveness, and McRae 2005 is yet another refinement.

You always feel in control, always ready to adjust as your tyres lose their bite on the gravel and the bonnet tries to hump a tree, but equally aware that any muck-up will face-plant you into an oak or send you spinning down a cliff face.

The only real problem is rally itself. Head-to-head special stages break up the lonely time trials, but most events remain a procession of solitary blasts down deserted roads.

Burning Col
McRae 2005's going down RalliSport 2's multiplayer road by adding in eight-player online modes on both PS2 and Xbox. Don't expect RalliSport's bumper-mashing showdowns - your opponents will be ghosted out - but it should add a huge competitive element to the grit-churning.

Yeah, it's a tune-up rather than a whole new model, but there's enough fuel here to keep fans' engines roaring. There might be a curse on Colin, but McRae 2005 feels like it's going to be rally black magic.

The verdict

Makes you feel like a handbrake-turning guru even when you're picking your teeth out a tree. Just a tune-up, but dammit, McRae does rally better than anyone.

PlayStation 2
Racing / Driving, Sim / Strategy, Action