In terms of remaining gameplay modes, the rest of Colin McRae 04 is made up of standard quick race, single course, and single rally modes. The quick race is just a random car and track that's selected for you, which gets you into a competition as expediently as possible. Single course lets you run a time trial through any of the game's available courses. As for single rally, any of the championship mode rallies are available in a single sitting here, in addition to a few customized rallies and a couple of slots for you to create your own customized rallies. Colin McRae 04 also features Xbox Live support--of sorts--but it's only in a scoreboard capacity. Essentially, any time you log on, you can upload your top scores from the offline game on to an online scoreboard to see how you stack up against the competition. As the offline game does feature one-to-four-player split-screen multiplayer (and one-to-two-player multiplayer in the championship mode), it's a little disappointing that there's no direct online competition. However, it's definitely nice to have the online scoreboard.
It may not have all the bells and whistles that many modern racing games feature these days, but Colin McRae 04 is still an incredibly solid racing package.
Colin McRae 3 was an extremely impressive-looking game on the Xbox, and this year, though the graphics have aged a bit, the game still looks great. The most visual detail has clearly gone into the car models, which look absolutely fantastic. Each car features highly reflective surfaces and an excellent amount of detail. And as you drive through each course, you'll see progressive amounts of dirt, mud, snow, and what have you build up on the car. As mentioned before, the damage modeling is also pretty top-notch, so nearly every wreck shows off some really impressive breakage. Colin McRae 04's tracks are definitely nice to look at as well, though they lack the detail of the car models. From a distance, everything has a nice look to it (with lots of background foliage and buildings), and though these set pieces are a bit on the repetitive side, they're accurate for the locations they're trying to emulate. In terms of textures, all the track and background textures look very good from afar, but when examined up close, you'll definitely notice that they're not particularly high in resolution. Additionally, you'll see a few cases of tiling here and there as well. We also noted a couple of glitches from time to time, such as when we rolled our car into a level wall, and the car kept rolling even after we hit the wall. Also, when driving through a tunnel, the camera clipped through the wall, which led to a bit of ugliness. Fortunately, these issues were pretty few and far between, but they definitely did pop up here and there.
The fact that Colin McRae 04 can be purchased for a mere $19.99 is almost criminally insane.
Colin McRae 04 also sounds really great. Colin McRae's longtime navigator Derek Ringer once again makes an appearance in this year's title, and his dialogue is pretty much what you would expect. The game also features navigator dialogue in multiple other languages as well. There's very little soundtrack to speak of in Colin McRae 04, save for in the game's various menu screens, but what's there serves as decent background fodder. Where the game really shines, however, is in terms of its in-game sound effects. When in the standard camera view, everything sounds really good. Every car's engine sounds different, slide-outs and crashes are just what they should be, and the sounds of the car simply bouncing around and skidding around corners are excellent. To top it all off, when you switch to the "in the cockpit" camera view, you get a whole new take on the game's sound presentation. Everything feels much more immersive, and all the effects definitely give you much more of a feeling that you're really inside the car. Of course, the fact that the game features Dolby Digital support only sweetens the deal.
Colin McRae Rally 04's overall package is an extremely well-put-together one, which really makes the fact that the game can be purchased for a mere $19.99 almost criminally insane. There is simply nothing wrong enough with this game to make it unworthy of a full retail price, and the fact that it is available as a budget title is really quite a lucky break for any racing fan. It may not be the definitive racing title for your Xbox, but that should not stop you from taking advantage of what is, in essence, an incredible deal in Colin McRae Rally 04.