To players of a certain vintage, the Colin McRae name means one thing. It’s not necessarily the Scotsman’s 1995 world rally title, nor that X-Games moment or any of his other acts of remarkable tenacity behind the wheel – rather, the McRae name is associated with a kickass run of off-road games from Codemasters in the late 90s through to the mid-noughties. It’s a name, like Tony Hawk, synonymous with video games.
So what a thrill it is to see it back on Codemasters’ series. It’s taken several detours since the McRae name was last attached to it back in 2009, some more enjoyable than others, but with Dirt Rally and its sequel the series is better than it’s ever been. Indeed, it’s been one of the delights of the past generation to see Codemasters back on its game, while also delivering a more hard-edged, nerdy type of driving experience. For fans of the genre like myself, it’s been simply brilliant.
The recently-released Colin McRae Flat Out pack for Dirt Rally 2.0 feels like something of a well-earned victory lap, and one that comes with impeccable timing. The base game is now free on PlayStation Plus, if you haven’t sampled its pleasures yet, and I’d strongly recommend digging into your pockets to get the DLC pack too. It’s a swift little campaign that still delivers significant breadth – there are some 40 new events, often with entertaining McRae-inspired requirements like rolling over before completing a stage – all of which is easily unlockable in an afternoon’s play.