Why did I include Codemasters in the title of this article you ask? It’s simple really – they are, more or less, the only currently active developer capable of putting together a coherent rally racing simulation, even though their recent titles were more arcade-ish and not really enough hard core sim. It’s not that Codemasters are the only developer devoted to racing games and sims, far from it. But unlike Codemasters, others do not seem to be interested in rallying at all. Which is their fault in a way, but it’s also the fault of the sport itself – instead of being recognized and promoted as one of the most exciting and hard core motor sport disciplines, rally is being, more or less, ignored by the developers. Leaving all rally fans to rely on Codemasters’ DIRT series and some old classics. But no matter how hard anyone and Codemasters try, there is still only one game that has it all. It’s Richard Burns Rally – it’s old, looks dated, its interface is ancient, but it rocks a superb physics and handling system. Learning curve is steep with capital S and to modify and upgrade you must turn to 3rd party sites and developers. There is no arcade mode in RBR, which may be one of the reasons game did not become a bestseller hit, instead it attracted hard core fans. And this is something Codemasters not only could but MUST consider when building their next rally related title.
Bring (back) the realism, bring back the hard core learning requirements, bring back long stages, heavy cars, down-to-earth braking performance and slap it onto DIRT’s engine. You’ve got the arcade model up and going, that does not need changing, but hard-core audience needs a game. As a developer responsible for ultimate legend that is Colin McRae Rally, you have a duty to deliver once again. Otherwise, may all your code turn out buggy on release and even worse after patching.
To see what kind of realism is possible even in medieval engine RBR uses, take a look at the video below. It features 3rd party developed realistic interpretation of one of the stages featured in real-life Barum Rally in Czech Republic. If you need further convincing, video also features same stage driven by real-life version of Esapekka Lappi.
What say you Codemasters? Can we at least hope that the idea of hard-core rally simulation is still alive somewhere, perhaps not yet ready to come to life, but it’s there. You can build a game that features both simulation and arcade options and you can be sure both will be played (and bought!). It does not even need to be official WRC simulation with events from the real championship – who cares, just make a top quality product which uses recent engine, believable physics and plethora of cars. That’s all.
Thanks Michał Hryszko for the video tip.