Blog Post

Colin McRae Rally Mac

I’ve been hooked on Mario Kart Wii since it was released, but there’s been a disconnect for me. Like “Grand Theft Auto”, it doesn’t carry over the level of realism that I experience when I’m out driving a real car – whether it be to run errands, or to race in the Indy 500. Think about it – do you really go and drive around, throwing banana peels at other people? We use these games for escapism, which is great, but it’s nice to have a level of realism to them. Despite all of its fun, that’s what Mario Kart lacks. I remember playing Microsoft’s “Monster Truck Madness” 10 years ago… it was a good step in that direction, but was limited by the graphics technology of the time. Furthermore, I tried it with the Force Feedback wheel that Microsoft was selling at the time, and the experience was just. not. good.

So the new magic line that these kinds of games need to cross in the “realism” category is something that’s fast and responsive (like a real car), and has a photorealistic experience.

Colin McRae Rally Mac (from Feral Interactive) has addressed these concerns. Some of the other racing games I’ve played (even the Gran Tourismo or Need for Speed-type titles) still seem to pull the common cartoon physics; or they try but they aren’t close enough, so it ends up being more frustrating than fun.

It’s been a while since my last “real” (Nascar or stock car) racing game, so I was interested to see how this game played.

Getting Started (Practice Mode)

It has a good library of real-world cars and tracks – some cars I recognize from here in the U.S. (especially the Ford models), and some real tracks from all over the planet. There are enough to choose from, and like any racing title, they each have their ups and downs in different areas (speed, weight, power, etc.).

I wasn’t sure what I was doing, so I figured the practice mode was a good place to start – I tried out a few maps, and got an understanding for what the game really does. An immediately obvious thing: your “copilot” (as I call him) will bark instructions at you regarding what lies ahead, using lingo from the real world racing, I assume. The vocal calls do seem to be a bit hard to decipher, requiring me to look through the manual to figure them out. If you can’t hear or understand the audio, simple icons appear in the top center of the screen, color-coded, I assume, based on the difficulty of the turn you’re about to execute. It seemed to me that the calls were a bit early at times, since I was still in the middle of the previous one. A few points in some of my early races, I was being told to turn when I didn’t see an obvious road. That’s the thing about these levels – some of them take place on open farmland, with dirt roads, leading me to be confused. So the directions end up being more helpful than you’ll think at first.


The remarkable graphics of the game come in to play with those dirt roads. The trees, rocks, and fences you pass by are really well detailed, and the dust kicks up in clouds. Winter and rain driving reveals impressive weather effects (you can customize the weather when you play, and choose to play in rain or snow). If you can’t keep your car on the road for whatever reason, be careful about colliding with anything, as I discovered that damage does affect the performance of your car (like a real car would), and it accumulates when you’re playing in a campaign mode (you have to pay to have that damage repaired). The damage on the car visually matches the damage icon in the lower left, though I noticed in one case that my completely trashed Ford Focus, with chassis exposed, still had pristine-looking headlights and tail lights. Not a huge glitch, as the rest of the car and game have been fairly flawless.

Performance and System Requirements

My PowerMac G5 (Dual Proc, 1.8 GHz, 128 VRAM) looked fairly good on the minimum settings (it gave me “unsupported” warnings, but still worked), though later trying it on a MacBook Pro Core Duo 2.1 GHz with 128 MB of VRAM was even more impressive. Sadly, the game won’t even run on machines with the Intel GMA integrated graphics chips. That leaves out the low-end Macs, like the MacBook and Mac mini. Whatever machine you use, you’ll want to allocate 4 GB in your Applications folder for the game’s files.

How to Play (Keyboard or Gamepad)

As for playing the game, I jumped right in with my keyboard: up arrow is the gas, and the other arrow keys are obvious. I wish I had a wheel or gamepad to test on Rally, as the manual says that these input devices should work. I discovered that the “1” key switches the camera view, so you can get a wider or narrower view, from inside or outside the car, like most other racing games. The audio of the game noticeably changes, giving a bit more “3D” perspective if the camera is positioned inside the car. None of this is incredibly obvious, as the audio is minimal in Rally, used only when needed rather than for useless explosions and noise.

Final Verdict

I like this game, overall, because where other games push for having one hand hanging out the window with a gun and explosions at every angle (or throwing banana peels) but the fourth grenade to hit you still doesn’t destroy your car, we can just get a good, clean race – one that really is fun. When you’re seething with rage about the blue shell, it’s nice to have this game – you’re the only one on the road, and the damage is real, from real obstacles, with the same kinds of challenges and outcomes they face in real life. You can score it right now from for only $39.

15 Responses to “Colin McRae Rally Mac”

  1. Just got this for Christmas, along with a Logitec Driving Force GT wheel, to use both with my iMac and PS3. Has anybody come up with a control configuration that works with this wheel? I have no menu control at all. The game site suggests to try al buttons and see what does what, but I cannot find an ESC or ENTER equivalent. The wheel works great with TOCA race driver 3, and I can run one time trial once fine in Colin McRae Rally, but I cannot go from there, or change to another stage.

    Thank you

  2. possibly the best mac game i’ve played so far. I have an almost 4 year old imac and it runs perfectly on close to max settings. that adam guy above is an idiot, there is normal brake+handbrake and using both of them the right way is essential.
    for people used to playing fps games, i recommend setting it up so accelerate is W, brake is space, and handbrake is D. much easier thtan using right hand to steer and brake at the same time

  3. Perran

    I love this game. The amount of time spent perfecting the times… I often have people over just to play multi, usually in the alternative turns mode as split screen can be quite a crowd around my 17 inch iMac! Great stuff and a lot of well spent evenings.
    Performance wise, it’s been perfect all the way, max settings on my 2.0ghz Intel iMac with 3Gig Ram and 128mb ATI X1600.
    The one issue I do have is the cars seem to have a slight habit of drifting sideways, even when on tarmac. It’s just a point but it doesn’t really affect the game any. Just look a bit odd that’s all.
    Keep up the great work Feral!!!!
    PS. I love your port of The Movies! Cheers!!

  4. This game sucks, I bought it and its ruined by having a extra button the “hard steer”. Totally ruins the feel of control that one had with games like the Original CMR 1&2.

    My copy going on ebay tbh

  5. (Disclaimer: I was the producer on the Mac version of this game and I work for Feral Interactive)

    OK with disclaimers out the way I thought I would answer a few questions raised in the article and in the comments. Firstly it looks like everyone likes the game which is great :) Anyway I thought I would explain the reasons and give a bit more detail to the questions and points raised.

    ** MacBook / GMA cards **

    The graphics in these machines (especially the older MacBooks and the all minis) don’t have dedicated graphics cards, they have a card that shares system RAM with the main CPU, additionally basic features on graphics cards like hardware accelerated textures and lighting are also missing requiring the CPU to do the work instead. The newer MacBooks have an up-rated card but it still is not a dedicated graphics card although it does have a few hardware features.

    To make a game popular and sell well it is in our interests to get the game on the largest amount of Mac machines possible. However sometimes it is not possible get every Mac supported if that machine is missing some fairly basic requirements like a dedicated graphics card with hardware acceleration.

    We have whenever possible added in GMA support to our games, LEGO Star Wars II & Tomb Raider are two examples, we have even patched some of our older games like Ford Racing 2 and Worms 3D. However Colin has high graphics demands and as a racing game needs a stable and high frame-rate to be playable these two factors together mean that GMA support was not feasible.

    Even on the low end supported machines a warning appears, this was done as it will override a few graphics options to ensure the game still runs smoothly. As you can imagine if we have to do this on low end machines with hardware graphics you can see why the GMA is not supported with it’s lack of hardware.

    ** Gamepad Support **

    If the gamepad is HID compliant then it should work, some pads might have issues with the force-feedback options if the Mac has no drivers for them. If you have an Intel machine 10.5 will be required as 10.4 had no FFB support for Intel.

    The game was designed for a console first so playing with a gamepad will give you the best experience, however I have completed the game both with a gamepad and with a keyboard. Although I will admit my times are slightly faster with a pad. :)

    The Microsoft wheel mentioned did not follow HID standard spec and differed from 99% of other wheels available in terms of how it defined it’s pedals in particular (as I recall). Although you can get this to work on Windows and Mac it would require special code just for this one wheel as it is different from all other wheels. As support for it has been dropped by the manufacturer, it is I believe no longer in production and finally it was not very popular we did not buy one in and spend time making this work on the Mac. Oh and it never had FFB drivers on the Mac either!

    Finally if you use USB overdrive you will override the USB data (as USB overdrive is designed to work with programs that have no pad support at all) so the game will not even recognize it correctly if at all. If you ever use USB devices with Feral games we have dedicated built in support so using third party USB apps like USB overdrive in this case will override and hence break the built in support if it does exist. So always try without any third party apps first. If you have no joy you can then try third party apps.

    If you have any further questions feel free to either contact our support team, email me if you have my email, or post a comment and I will do my best to reply, however it can get a bit busy finishing the next few games so don’t worry if I take more than 30 mins to reply. ;)



    Producer – Colin McRae Rally Mac
    Feral Interactive

  6. @Joey: I have a few joysticks laying around the apartment, but none of them work with OS X, except for an old Gravis Gamepad, but that thing wouldn’t be worth using in a driving game, with only two buttons and a d-pad. I *did* try to get the Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Wheel to work, but it was having trouble getting calibrated in USB Overdrive (it would suddenly shift sensitivity from extreme to extreme, and then back to center again). Since Microsoft doesn’t support it anymore (not even in Windows XP), I didn’t expect much.

  7. Joey Sichol

    Couldn’t we get someone who at least has a joystick to write this review?

    …and once again MacBook owners get the shaft. They should at least provide a very low graphics quality setting…