Video Game: Colin McRae Rally

A series of critically acclaimed and commercially successful rally racing Simulation Games, created and published by British game developer Codemasters. Named after famous 1990s Scottish rally driver Colin "The Flying Scotsman" McRae, the legendary winner of the 1995 World Rally Championship. McRae personally provided feedback and technical know-how to the developers. His co-drivers, Nicky Grist and Derek Ringer, provided voice acting of themselves for the entire series.

Each game is a semi-realistic rally simulator, so though there are some arcade-ish elements, the general tone of the games requires players to beat rally stages using a relatively professional driving style. The series is notable for pioneering a destruction and physics model in racing games. Damage received in a race is taken into account and players have to repair their rally car regularly in a service area, after every two stages. In addition, service areas also offer a generous array of options for tuning a car's technical specs, to give better performance on upcoming stages. Weather conditions are also an important factor, and at least two of the installments featured randomly generated and dynamically changing weather.

The series currently spans 5 games :

  • Colin McRae Rally (1998)
  • Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (2000)
  • Colin McRae Rally 3 (2003)
  • Colin McRae Rally 04 (2004)
  • Colin McRae Rally 2005 (2005)

For the spinoff series, see DiRT.


This game series provides examples of :

  • Adaptation Distillation / Pragmatic Adaptation : The games have gone from featuring actual rally racers and licensed WR championships (set in the year in which the game was made) to more Bland-Name Product versions of famous rally events and racing sponsors. However, all rally stages in the series are based on real world locations, down to minute details.
  • Associated Composer : All of the music heard in the series was created by Jonathan Colling of the British team Octagon Music.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Averted (almost) completely in the first three games.
    • After 3, the official World Rally Championship license was dropped, so though the license from the car manufacturers and their teams was still there, 04 and 2005 avoided using official FIA terminology related to rally car groups and classes. It's still barely noticeable to a non-expert.
    • Due to possible name licensing issues with the manufacturer, the Mitsubishi cars in 2005 only use their model names, such as "Lancer Evolution VII" or "Shogun Montero" (i.e. Pajero).
  • Drives Like Crazy : A necessessary style of driving, if you want to score good time standings and 1st place on the various stages. Needless to say, this doesn't mean you can compromise careful handling. The key to success is paying close attention to your co-driver and the upcoming terrain - and some basic driving instinct when it comes to accelerating, braking and steering.
  • Driving Stick : Racing with the use of manual transmission instead of the default automatic is purely optional on every difficulty level. The main advantage of stick shift is better control over the transmission by the player, the downside being a need for more complex handling.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect? : Generally averted. Besides winning the classic golden, silver or bronze championship trophy, each game rewards you with lots of Unlockable Content.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels :
    • In 2.0 :
      • Novice
      • Intermediate
      • Expert
    • In 04 :
      • Normal
      • Advanced
      • Expert
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability : Played straight, but crashes always look nasty, especially if you have the cockpit view switched on. And then there's the whole other issue of damaging your car in a crash...
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In addition to Derek Ringer, Nicky Grist is available as the co-driver voice in 04, but is only mentioned in the in-game menus under the codename "Co-Driver B". As he's selectable right grom the get-go and his voiceset doesn't need to be unlocked, he actually doesn't count as a secret character.
  • Limited Sound Effects : The first two games were pretty big offenders, featuring very little non-vehicular sound effects. 2.0 barely had any enviromental sounds at all ! It got better from 3 onwards and 04 and 2005 had much more lively sounding enviroments.
  • Loads And Loads Of Cool Cars
  • Motor Mouth : The co-drivers. Among the first two games' many hilarious cheat codes was one that turned the co-driver's voice into an over-the-top opera tenor voice.
  • Nintendo Hard : The first two games are especially notorious for this, but the entire series is pretty challenging.
  • Nostalgia Level / Remixed Level / Continuity Nod : Some of the most visually interesting or popular rally stages feature in nearly every game. A lot of them help to clearly show the Art Evolution that the series went through over the years...
  • Save Scumming : Played straight in the first two games. Averted in later ones, where you only have one autosave and have to think twice about saving your current championship progress and such. The only exception to this would be when you exit a stage on which you're not doing well and then load the save from the most recent service area.
  • Scenery Porn : Sooo much of it, especially in the later installments...
  • Spinoff : The DiRT series (the first two installments were titled Colin McRae DiRT in Europe).
  • Spiritual Successor: Gained one in 2015, in the form of Codemasters' DIRT Rally.
  • Subsystem Damage : One of the first rally games to utilize this consistently, with crashes or driving through rough terrain always resulting in an appropriate amount of damage, which further affects the car's performace. 2005 introduced a new element to the estabished HUD - a damage meter showing a generalized view of the overall state of the various sections of the car (in the lower left corner of the screen).
  • Technology Porn : A more subtle example of this trope, but rally racing buffs will surely find some.
  • Unlockable Content : A staple of the series - with cars, higher difficulty levels and cheats being the usual offering for winning a championship or setting a new record on a stage.


Alternative Title(s):

Colin Mc Rae Rally