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Colin McRae: DIRT

Codemasters' series gets down and dirty. Forget the boring tarmac - let's go offroad!

DESPITE VIRTUALLY RETIRING to spend long summer days pottering around in the garden dreaming of 90mph powerslides, Colin McRae's name is still so recognisable that he's been chosen to lead Codemasters world-conquering rally brand for another season. And, this time the man of motors is going offroad - you'll race in heavyweight 850bhp cars, drifting on the loose gravel and high-speed blind corners of hill-climb events along perilous cliff edges!

Of course, we've no idea what sort of freedom the game will allow you in deciding your offroad route. Although, thinking about previous rallying games, we doubt that you'll be going further than ten feet from the track either side, but you might experience vertical take off or hit a 45 degree nosedive on some of the more treacherous sections.

Zoom

So far, we know that the driving will be more trying than in previous games, the courses will be longer and the terrain and elements are set to provide a far greater challenge than ever before. Rallying can take place on any surface in any condition, ranging from dirt and snow to tarmac and rain, and in almost any location. The idea seems to be that as long as a car can drive on the surface, you'll be rallying on it!

The rallying in CM:D is also unique in that the cars all have to be able to travel on normal roads for the untimed transport sections of the races - something that's not always featured in even the most accurate rally games.

Looking at these astounding screenshots, we have to hope that the finished game ends up looking just as pretty. The cars genuinely appear as if they're in motion, and look realistically fragile with eye-popping levels of detail. The official logos are caked in mud and dust and the way that the paintwork flakes around patches of rust on the bodywork and individual particles of grit fly after the cars as they plough through the fords, leaving a wake and splashing waves across the road, make CM:D potentially the most beautiful rallying game ever!

We're assured that the damage model is equally impressive and when combined with the car's realistic handling lets you throw your vehicle about like a bag of turbo-charged potatoes. Although its release is still some way off, fingers crossed, we'll be waiting on the finishing line, cheering come next year.

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