Dick Burns rally is “fun” isnit?
lol.. thats an interesting word to describe it
they call this realistic, sim like handling? - well I suppose it is if your brakes are f****d and you're towing a caravan full of really large, fat people
and the FINLAND rally?
and the FINLAND rally??
and the FINLAND rally????????
F*** me - have they ever seen the rally of Finland (Finish, Finnish?) rally? - it’s one of the fastest rallies of the year, usually on hard, compact gravel and dodgy tarmac, in the summer.
Yeah, and they didn’t seem to make up their minds where the heck it was either – it’s called the Finland/Lapland/ Arctic Circle/Father Christmas rally or something… It’s…. it’s… like Hell froze over and they decided to hold a rally there in celebration, only you all had to drive in underpowered, whining cars with Hoover engines and slick tyres…
EVERY stage is driven in a snow blizzard - EVERY stage
and the engine noise?
I can hear the turbo gate, LOTS of gearbox whine, stones rattling, the co-driver crapping himself every time I hit a tree, but not a f*****g peep out of the engine…
and the scenery???
Cardboard cut-out trees and washed-out colours – yuck!
what about the spectators that help you get on the road again - you love them, right!?!?
Yep, and they had the nerve to make a big thing in press releases about that way that spectators would help you back onto the stage - LOL
the driving school is cool tho
and the replays have that ‘GT look’ - the car really looks like it's THERE - and some nice camera shake/off centre framing etc to make it look authentic
mind you, it's not all bad, if you like dust - I reckon it has the longest dust trail of all the rally games ...
Yeah – here’s a slogan for the poster: RICHARD BURNS RALLY: Buy it if you like going s.l.o.w.l.y. and really like dust…
…And so (roughly) went an MSN conversation about RBR I was party to, between a certain two Gamecell writers who’ve probably driven more virtual stages and laps between them than anyone you can think of (and they’ve driven a few real high performance cars on various surfaces too incidentally). Thus you have to respect their opinions. And a week later, despite returning several times to the game to try and persevere, I feel much the same way – even after winning a championship the game is a huge disappointment, with little reward, lasting appeal or anything to redeem it – I’m playing it to see enough to review it properly, and for no other reason. The game has absolutely no enjoyment factor for me whatsoever, and despite the “hook” it has lodged firmly in my gob (I LOVE racing games, rally games and tough games in general), it’s really difficult to like.
The best bits have already been mentioned; it’s tough to master, has nice looking replays, and an excellent driving school mode. That’s it. Handling that I initially thought was simply “floaty” is much more complex than that, complex and plain wrong. The cars (there's a measly total of eight, and they all handle pretty much the same) all have way too much inertia, unrealistically poor brakes and not enough traction (and the “pendulum effect” is a doozy) – this means with narrower stages than any of the other rally games that RBR has to be treated with a LOT of respect, way too much respect to be enjoyable for most. The game has a more complex physics engine than many rally games, but still 5ft fir trees can stop you dead whilst chunky log railings collapse like they’re made out of matchsticks. Expansive tuning options abound (it’s heaven if you fancy adjusting things like; strut platform height, wheel axis inclination or differential maps), but despite fiddling with everything and changing several settings from one extreme to the other, you can barely discern any change in the woolly handling – so what’s the point? With little or no feedback via rumble from the controller (PGR2 and Rallisport 2 really moved the genre on in this department) vagueness abounds, and with no proper driver’s view (the in-car view is from the centre of the dashboard) how can it really be considered a “sim”?
Rallies in GB, Japan, France, USA, Australia and Finland all blur together much like the cars, because although they each have their own look, none of them actually look that much like where it’s supposed to be (particularly Australia and Finland) and the surface/grip levels never seem to change; apart from on the ridiculous Finland rally that I drove in snow blizzards on every stage – that particular test of patience did seem to have even less grip than the others (see the screenshots below – I was in the MIDDLE of the road on both occasions incidentally – can YOU guess which way the road goes?).
Every good feature of RBR seems to have a fault or a bad one to trump it. The driving school is an excellent idea, a training course with Burnsie’s voice telling you what to do and how bad/good you are - it gets the game off to a good start. But for several gamers the time it took to complete the driving school qualification was enough to convince them that they didn’t like the handling of RBR and had packed it in! SCi’s press releases talked up “new” features like spectators, photographers and even marshals who would get in the way, often running out of your path at the last moment. Now these spectators (who will help you back on to the stage if you go too far astray, roll the car or just get stuck), are called up by pressing start and selecting “Call for help” from the menu – hardly immediate is it? – And then all you get is a cutaway camera of your car getting rolled back onto its wheels and three badly animated fans running away – the same three fans follow you around the world incidentally – hardly a groundbreaking new addition to the rally game genre is it? And this feature gets used a LOT as you get used to RBR’s handling, and as soon as you leave the actual “track” , your car seems to have even less power and traction, and often seems incapable of pulling the skin off a rice pudding, never mind climbing a steep incline back onto the stage…
Oh yes, and the spectators who run out of the way? – well yes, they do add some atmosphere but amazingly, if you actually manage to hit one the screen goes red and you’re reset as if you had crashed into something immovable – you’ll even be retired from the rally if this happens when you’re playing on Pro level! This annoying feature simply made me tend to put my foot down when I saw one of these idiots in the distance, and hope the windscreen wipers were still working…
As previously mentioned, the replays look great – strangely, the car’s handling and physics looks a lot better from outside than it feels when you’re actually driving. The cars are tidily modelled and damage is extensive and realistic looking (although not as good as CMR04 or Rallisport 2’s). The rear window shatters for no apparent reason and the bonnet crumples just because you go over a bump … cars’ doors pop open and fall off – how often have you seen that happen?
Things like plastic tape fences, gravel sprays and dust clouds look superb – the car’s dust trail goes on for hundreds of yards and thus looks better than the rival game’s - But the scenery? – Whoa!– much like a painting by Bob “The Joy of Painting” Ross (bless him); from a certain distance, if you don’t look too close it looks fine and dandy, but stop and examine closely and the game looks decidedly “last gen”, with bland colouring and flat, 2D trees and bushes (that aren’t animated in any way and look terrible close up – and you can’t help but get a close up look from time to time, if you know what I mean) – in fact, to return to the Bob Ross analogy, RBR looks just like it was slapped together by an aging hippy with a big brush in 20 minutes flat…
And as for the difficulty, well you can make the game easy enough to win by playing on the easier settings (so you can have two or three “offs” and still win a stage), but where’s the fun in that? The narrowness of the stages is exciting and different, but the handling needed to be pin sharp to make the experience enjoyable - tough games need to be addictive and rewarding in order to justify themselves, and that’s where RBR falls flat on its face. Labour all the way through a rally and one hard landing can finish the rally for you – dead, you won’t even limp on with a knackered engine or gearbox – this is RBR’s closest thing to realism – but is it fun? You can play 4 player in turns, but good luck in finding anyone who'd want to. There's also a 'Richard Burns Challenge' in which you race against a ghost car that is allegedly Richard's very own effort (he supposedly had as much or more input into the game as Colin McRae does with his game). Well here's a tip Rich: go buy a copy of CMR04, it's MUCH better, much cheaper by now, more fun, has more cars and it's much more realistic too.
I’ve heard this game compared to the legendarily 'tough-as-old-boots with nails in' F355 Challenge on the Dreamcast – well there’s a HUGE difference; F355 was the best-looking and sounding racing game around at the time, RBR can’t boast anything that makes it stand out from the crowd other than an unforgiving nature that would test the patience of a saint. The developers clearly wanted to distinguish RBR from the likes of WRC, Rallisport Challenge 2 and the excellent Colin McRae series by carving a niche at the simulation end of the shelf - all they’ve succeeded in doing is making a big space for themselves in the bargain bins…
“Speed isn’t everything” says one of the on-screen "tips" as the next stage loads – no, it's not everything, but it’s nice, and fun, and thrilling, and although RBR does have a couple of flat-out sections, no sooner have you got the car up to speed then you’re back on the brakes – and there’s no great sensation of speed anyway (not aided by the game’s poor frame rate). All said and done, if you want a serious challenge I wouldn’t completely discount RBR, but with Colin McRae Rally 2005 fast approaching, this Richard Burns Rally is for masochists and rally game completists only…