Codies unveils this year's Colin McRae

Online play, new damage models, bonnet-cam, German stages and all manner of other delights make it into Colin McRae Rally 2005 on PS2 and Xbox.

Codemasters has officially announced Colin McRae Rally 2005, this year's inevitable vintage of the celebrated rally series, and the biggest new feature on the cards is an eight-player head-to-head online mode which should be available through both PS2 Online and Xbox Live - mirroring the Britsoft developer's efforts in other franchises like England International Football.

Due out this autumn on those two formats and set to debut at E3 next month, CMR2005 sounds like it has some serious technological tricks up its sleeve. A new bonnet-cam aims to deliver a sensation of speed and undulation missing from previous versions, while even minor scratches will be reflected in the state of the paintwork and trackside scenery will take more of a pounding - trees, for example, will shake and shed leaves when you run into them. Collisions like that will also evoke a brief 'dazed' effect, blurring your vision slightly while you readjust.

Elsewhere it's all looking shipshape and Bristol fashion. A 20-class Career Challenge mode will see you working your way from the pits of lower-level rallying to the heights of the world championship, taking in Challenges, Cups, SuperCups and Shields along the way through 300+ stages - including some set in Germany, for once - and we're also promised 4WD Championship, Rally, Stages and of course Online modes.

For those interested in the hardware, the game's car line-up features a mixture of 4WD, 2WD, 4W Classics, Super 2W, Rear Wheel, Distinctive and 4x4 Classics - specifically including the Volkswagen Golf MK5, Toyota Celica GT-FOUR, Lancia Stratos, Alfa Romero 147 GTA, Alfetta GTV Turbodelta, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, Peugeot 206, 205 T16 Evo2 and VW Bettle RSi. Phew.

As you can see from the screenshots of both PS2 and Xbox versions, it's already looking very pretty, although some would argue that its success is far from assured on the latter format this year, with Microsoft and Digital Illusions' own RalliSport Challenge 2 due out in the meantime and looking very sharp. We shall have to wait and see whether McRae can mount a charge later on in the autumn when the game ships...

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