As a big fan of the Colin McRae Rally games on the PS1 I was looking forward to the latest game in the series thanks to a decent demo released on the PSN.
The game looks great, its clear that time has been taken to create detailed and authentic environments for you to hurtle through. I have only ever noticed graphical slowdown during race replays when there are lots of cars on the screen at once.
There are about 100 single player races and challenges to work your way through. Completing each one rewards you with credit ( to be spent on new and upgrading cars ), new liveries and strange little toys to decorate the dashboard of your car which you can see when you use the interior viewpoint. You also earn XP which accumulate, moving you up through the ranks. Ranking up earns you cash bonuses.
There is also an extensive on-line Multi-player mode which offers all of the types of races found within the single player mode. You can team up with your friends to race but as far as I can see there is no friends only option, this is a shame.
Each car has a set of stats which cover Top Speed, Acceleration and Drive-ability, you can ignore these for the most part as cars which should have poorer performance often work out to be easier to use.
During an offline event you will have a number of Flashbacks available. A Flashback can be thought of as a 2nd chance for when things go wrong. You hit the replay button and you will get a replay of the last 15 seconds of the action, at any point you can hit the square button and then you can jump back into the car at that point, allowing you to take a tricky bend or line yourself up for a jump properly. The number of Flashbacks depend on the difficulty level.
There are many different types of race types available. Rally, Rally Cross, Trailblazer, Last Man Standing etc. Problem is there are only a few locations where each type of event can take place. Rally stages for example are generally all built around a single route, all that changes are the start and finish points. So you will soon get to know the tracks for the race discipline that you prefer. I expect that this could be fixed by downloadable content but Im not sure if you should be expected to pay more to for content that it feels like should have been there from the start.
On-line racing can quickly become irritating when other drivers dont play fair. You will find plenty of players that would rather smash you out the way or force you to spin than get past you with driving skill.
Overall, its a great game which will have you trying to better your time on each course with each run. Well worth it IMHO.