Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
Buy Now
Buy on
  1. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    The game IS gorgeous. The graphics are beautiful the sound effects are spectacular, and the overall presentation is extremely stylish. [May 2003, p.92]
  2. In what has to be a first for rally titles, much of the scenery, which should be breakable... is! No more bouncing off seemingly solid tape barriers - they now snap and even flap in the wind.
  3. As far as realism, physics, and attention to detail, Colin blows away the competition.
  4. That, combined with the absorbing way the game draws you into the season, through neat animations and an impossibly stylish menu system, makes this the motor sport title to own - for purists and weekend drivers alike.
  5. Play Magazine
    From the superb modeling of the interior and exterior of the vehicles, the realism of its courses, and the precision of its control, McRae looks and feels just like the real thing. [Jan 2003, p.75]
  6. 90
    The feel of the driving is what earned the McRae series its reputation, and the controls remain impeccable in this PS2 edition.
  7. Everything you could have wished for and more.
  8. 90
    A simple joy to play. There's little about it that isn't excellent, polished, authentic rallying of the highest standard, with the graphics, sound, and above all handling to back up its well-respected license.
  9. Cheat Code Central
    There are less modes, tracks and cars but the engine has been rebuilt and offers incredible handling and realistic graphics. If you want to focus on rally racing without all the distractions, this is the game.
  10. 89
    The physics, sense of speed, handling and graphics are dazzling, top-notch effects that rocket this game to the top of the heap. On the other hand, the sheer lack of game modes is disturbing.
  11. Stylish and amazingly realistic, Colin McRae Rally 3 does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of rally racing while keeping it delightfully fun.
  12. Game Informer
    Although the game's career mode is a little dry (compared to "V-Rally 3") and the damage is forgiving, Colin McRae Rally 3 contains some stunning graphics and is a powerful, mesmerizing experience. [May 2003, p.83]
  13. A very good rally racer. It looks good and plays even better. For those interested in this style of racing, this title is one worth looking into.
  14. 84
    Only graphical impoverishments, a terrible secret-unlock method, and a lack of features prevent perfection.
  15. A good game hindered by lack of options and other cars to drive in the Championship mode.
  16. The most realistic rally game released for the PlayStation 2 to date, but it offers very little in the way of gameplay options and can occasionally prove frustrating because it makes you overly dependent on the instructions of codriver Nicky Grist.
  17. That you can only tweak the Ford Focus and drive only as McRae in the Championship mode is a little silly, but the game still kicks ass and is a lot of fun to play. And that's what really counts in my video game drawer.
  18. Has a lot going for it. But it goes wrong in one key area: The Championship mode. It’s much too limited. We get to drive one car throughout our career, and we don’t get to make our own repairs when we damage it; the computer does it for us.
  19. Definitely a niche game targeted to a specific group of racing fans, mainly hardcore rally racers. With its ultra-realistic driving and damage model combined with a distinct lack of game modes and content, this may not be the game for everyone.
  20. The eye-candy quota is attractive enough to make this a must-own for rally racing nuts (like yours truly), but “V-Rally 3” still holds on to its title as the best racing game of its kind on PS2 (and XBox as well).
  21. 80
    Niggling inconsistencies and slightly bland between-race presentation aside, Colin McRae Rally 3 is a beautiful, realistic, and smooth translation of rally racing. The tracks are gorgeous, challenging, and addictive.
  22. PSM Magazine
    One exceptionally notable aspect of the game is the sound. Even on a simple stereo setup, the sounds of the engine and the environment were crystal clear. [June 2003, p.32]
  23. GMR Magazine
    If Codies opened up the format and provided more variety in the Championship mode, it would be a king. [May 2003, p.68]
  24. Codies made too many changes from CMR2 (the front end and in-service menus) and not enough (the graphics!) at the same time.
  25. Due to its paltry length and lack of decent multiplayer options, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this game. It is, however, a solid offering.

Awards & Rankings

#80 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. Jan 17, 2022
    Actually a 10/10. I had so much fun with it. The mechanics are very good. I think it can get boring over a long time playing but that doesn’tActually a 10/10. I had so much fun with it. The mechanics are very good. I think it can get boring over a long time playing but that doesn’t really make it worse imo. Worth buying! Full Review »
  2. Apr 19, 2021
    Playing this game in 2021 turned out to be much less of a challenge and waaay more of a satisfying experience. Racing games don't age too wellPlaying this game in 2021 turned out to be much less of a challenge and waaay more of a satisfying experience. Racing games don't age too well but Colin McRae Rally 3 has avoided becoming an unplayable yet nostalgic piece of software.

    You can clearly see that visually it's not keeping up anymore, but for a 2002 release - the graphics are stunning. Some tricks like copying the sky texture and putting it in a lake to simulate reflections are obviously there, and apparently in 2002 spectators attending rallies were 2D flat, pixelated monstrosities but the main stuff - cars and surruounding areas - is done really well.

    Speaking of cars, it's technically a simulator, so your nicely rendered Ford Focus (the only available car in the single player mode - explanation below) might get wasted during the rallies. The damage mechanism is quite believable and detailed, and works differently with different kinds of tracks (i.e. it's easier to destroy your brakes when you use them very often on a slippery surface). Before each run you are given a report on how damaged your car is, and sometimes it's better to be careful, as you can destroy the vehicle entirely and basically get disqualified from the rally. Needless to say that the performance drops when the condition of car worsens. Saving your car from bigger or smaller damage will not be easy, as the driving model is quite challenging - although today it doesn't feel super realistic but I guess 19 years ago it was an ultimate driving simulator. Still believable, though. Just keep in mind that some bushes and traffic signs are indestructible and if you bump into them (which isn't hard to accidentally do) they will give your car a hard time. Quite hilarious for a game trying to be realistic.

    The game offers 64 tracks in single player mode (split into 8 countries) but most of them repeat itself on the course of 3 championships (6 rallies each, difficulty increasing with each championship) the player takes part in. It might get a bit repetitive but as I said, even if you memorize the levels it's not really easy to beat the clock. Additionally, weather changes are a small diversion. Each completed rally unlocks a new component for the car and sometimes a new vehicle that can be used in other modes. Because yes, it's a Colin McRae game, and you can only play the career as him. A bit limiting but I guess it's the only option Mr McRae was fine with at the time.

    Outside the career mode you can try to set a new record for the tracks or play with a friend with a second controller. It's classic split screen stuff, nothing mindblowing but essential for a racing game.

    During the gameplay I hardly noticed any glitches, framerate drops were happening very rarely and only during cutscens. For a game that probably uses a lot of the PS2 potential it's quite a good result.

    CMR3 kept me engaged during single player mode and some time i played with a friend and I totally don't regret giving this old PS2 title a chance - it's not really long or sophisticated like modern racing simulators, and has some silly elements that scream it's early 2000s but it's altogehter immensely fun! If you have a chance to play it, give it a try - the worst that can happen is nostalgia kicking you right in the groin (definitely check out the extras section in the main menu with a bunch of oldschool trailers for some forgotten games meant to be released in 2003. It felt like a time travel combined with treasure hunting to me).
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 22, 2018
    Физика лучше, графика красивей, автомобилей и трасс больше, стандартная эволюция гоночной серии.Физика лучше, графика красивей, автомобилей и трасс больше, стандартная эволюция гоночной серии.