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McRae gets Neon makeover

New engine details, shots.

Codemasters has unveiled the technology behind the forthcoming PS3, Xbox 360 and PC version of Colin McRae Rally.

Called Neon, the new, proprietary engine will empower Colin McRae: DIRT with "impeccable car handling, incredibly detailed vehicles and fantastic living environments" (presumably they mean "fantastic, living environments" rather than smashing lounges and whatnot).

It's also helpful, says Codies, in modelling environments very closely, and helping imbue them with distinctive elements - "right down to the effects of the wind".

Things like exhaust smoke, rustling foliage, flapping flags, rainfall and damage should also be amped up too - while the cars apparently create "air rush wake" that will affect anything it passes and generate a real-time slipstream.

Apparently the technology's been in production for over 18 months, with more than 30 people on the team. You can see how they're doing by checking out a batch of new screenshots, including one of Colin McRae's in-game car (the red one).

"Neon delivers an engine that provides us with so much more scope and possibilities than an update of existing tech would have ever allowed," says Codies' Gavin Cheshire.

"The most obvious result is in the visual detail and physics that produce incredible particle effects. Neon makes it possible to go into seemingly minute detail but will create the most realistic and involving environments in the racing genre."

We should get a better idea of how it's looking soon, with the game due out in 2007.