It seems a little strange that Colin McRae Rally is on iOS right now. I mean, I don't deny that it makes sense in a lot of ways. The popularity of the Fast & Furious franchise, in addition to the App Store dominance of car games like Real Racing 3, certainly indicates that there's a big audience out there for it. But Colin McRae Rally is not a new title -- it's a remake of the 2001 PS1 game Colin McRae Rally 2.0.
When stacked up to the visual brilliance of the Real Racing series, that age definitely shows a bit, despite the polished-up look. But is it still good enough for gear-heads to have some rally racing fun on the go? Just going on the merits of the original game alone, you can't fault this remake too much. It does a pretty faithful job of re-creating and updating that gaming experience for mobile devices. But the biggest problem shows up right away.
The problem being that Codemasters did not add much on to the game, instead choosing to strip away. Also, I don't know how much you remember about racing games back in the early aughts, but, "time-shifted asynchronous multiplayer" might as well have been a phrase from an alien language. As a result, the experience in Colin McRae Rally is pretty bare bones compared to some of the other titles out there.
But that's not to say there's nothing to be taken away from the straight-forward, down-and-dirty arcade action of this rally road classic. For one, there's no shortage of content to be found in Colin McRae Rally. For fans of the newer DiRT series who want to see where things got started, there are plenty of tracks, races, cars, and maintenance to keep you busy.
Between events, you will have to make sure to keep your ride in tip-top shape. The damage you take in earlier races will have to be pounded out in the body shop, lest you want your racer to fall apart on the track. I'm glad that Codemasters didn't retrofit some kind of weaselly micro-transaction functionality with this, giving you the option to repair faster or more effectively by spending some real cash via an in-app purchase.
Drifting and cornering are pretty easy to get the hang of without a controller in your hands, but there's more to master and get better at the more time you spend with the game. Both the tilt and on-screen options work well as control schemes. Most of the time I defer to the on-screen option in games, but that's just cause I don't like the idea of looking goofy leaning this way and that while playing. Both were effective here.
Still, it's hard not to notice the lack of commonplace features in racing games, such as manual transmission, multiplayer, numerous camera options, and car customization. While on the one hand the lack of these features helps to remind you that you're playing an old port, it's hard not to stack this game up against the other options out there. But perhaps it all depends on the perspective you bring to the game.
After a bit, I found myself realizing that it's not just retro, pixely platformers that deserve the port treatment. Colin McRae Rally was and still is a good racing game. The speed and handling remain just as tight as ever, and the game is sure to keep your hands sweaty as you try and keep your ride ahead of the competition.