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SummaryLove letter to the developers of this rally game
The GoodOnce I really dedicated myself to get into this game and complete rally school, I realised it wasn't in fact that difficult to drive through a rookie rally season and coming out as a winner.
After this stage, the simulation started to get interesting and addictive. Never mind the little variety of rallies or cars or the truly horrible co-driver. I started to see the good aspects of the RBR experience. And these include the co-driver at least gives reliable information on the next corner, and indeed he did his job well on this. It didn't matter that the engine of all cars sounded the same, at least one point less to distract the player from the actual racing experience.
While complaining about the lack of graphical diversity in the rallies, I do have to admit there are some details here and there like crows starting up and flying away or a rabbit running across the track. And there's this fog veil in the Great Britain stages that looks awesome. Bumps in the road look quite tangible. Rain and snow indeed impair visibility in this simulation (I can only advise you to turn off the cockpit view with the wipers on in snow).
I can't explain it, but once I've set up personal best times in all stages, I was wondering if I couldn't get better and better. It started to be so much fun to improve on the stages, even the ones I hated. I liked the fact that with every start of a rally season the weather is randomly generated, and even the sequence of stages changes. WRC and CMR don't offer this kind of diversity.
And of course the damage model is great. The sense of speed is great, the tickling sensation before every crest, every K corner or even medium corner, the sudden, but announced tightening of a corner, when you have to quickly decide if you're going too fast or if you could in fact put in a little more throttle. Gee, this is the greatest motivator of all: learning while driving stages over and over. And then there's still Richard Burns himself to beat, which up to now I haven't managed to, but it doesn't matter.
The BadIt took me a long time to really get into this simulation. When I was first doing some rally school units, I also played WRC 04 and CMR 2005 on the side, and I liked those titles a lot more because they were simply more fun and looked better. They offered more thrill with less practice and patience.
Initial difficulty aside, RBR looked so unappealing to my eyes. The fonts are too small and narrow making legibility on a standard TV set (I'm talking about the old CRT) very difficult. The in-game graphics were just about okay, and the rally stages didn't offer much general diversity. Also, I was disappointed to see there were only six rallies in total to experience.
The co-driver, oh my gosh, and his voice were so devoid of any passion, and the sound quality was comparatively bad too. It was enough to put me off trying harder for months to come.
Also, the developers didn't manage to put much into the console's memory so that every little bit has to be loaded from the disc. This includes restarts of the same stage and replays. When you save your progress within a rally season after you've completed the last stage, the next time you load the season you'll first have to go through travelling from the last country back to headquarters, then continue to the next country, no matter if you saved your progress again in the main menu. What a load of half-arsed rubbish!
As for the selection of rally cars, I don't mind so much that there will be only eight of them to choose from once you've completed certain events. But was it really necessary to have two similar Subaru Impreza models in the end, rather than including a Ford Focus? I keep reassuring myself in believing it was a licencing issue. But it remains disappointing nonetheless.
Furthermore, I didn't enjoy the fact I was limited to choose to go through a whole season or only a single rally stage. Why on Earth is there no option to do a single rally with all stages?
The Bottom LineIf you're new to rally games and would like to have more outright fun above anything else, then I suggest you should rather go for the World Rally Championship series. It looks fantastic, has lots of rallies in store and the damage model is laughable even in expert mode.
If you prefer to have the best of both worlds, fun and more realism, go for the Colin McRae series. It looks great as well, there are enough rallies to choose from, the damage model is more realistic than in WRC, the sound is great, the variety of cars is great, and in general it's all around a great rally game to recommend to anybody in the first place. But unfortunately, it does have some serious drawbacks too.
Now, if you're really willing to get into the thick of it, if you are prepared to put some time and effort into a proper simulation, then you're probably ready for Richard Burns Rally. Don't be distracted by superficial flaws, after a while they won't matter to you any more, no, you will be savoring the whole damn thing, looking forward to beating your personal best times, to beat the pro season and Richard Burns himself. This game is really rewarding in the long run!