Colin McRae: Dirt

Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees. It might sound like the kind of thought that went through co-driver Nicky Grist's mind as Colin put their Legacy arse-first into an oak, but actually that is how Codemasters felt after six years of slaving to create the more-dour-than-salted-porridge series.

So they took a two year break from the franchise, spending the time looking beyond merely recreating another stultifying but accurate simulation. Instead they've gone further than mere rallying and into dirt tracks, hill climbs, multi-car circuits, Baja buggies and Sega Rally-esque handling. In short they've take a leaf out of superb TOCA's book and finally prevented the series driving into the same ever-narrowing niche.

Above: The level of detail is insane - just look at those stones by the trackside

The fact that they also spent the time working on a new engine has also helped. So while you can feel through the wheel that the focus is more on fun and Forza-like accessibility, you can also see the desert's dune effects, the - yes - whoosh of the wind through the woods and the damage engine's ability to realistically bend both bumper and wall.

And, in a shocking reversal of our opening cliche‚ they've also modelled everything to a miniscule level so every leaf is now translucent, lit in real-time and turns in your turbulence. Effects-wise this is already pushing more envelopes than Parcel Force.


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