Rallying on PC, the State of the Art, Part 2: Richard Burns Rally

A triplescreen view of the start of a stage, showing the stretched HUD that occurs at this extreme widescreen resolution.

So yes, this article is titled “The State of the Art” and yes, Richard Burns Rally (hereafter RBR) was released in 2004, making it almost 7 years old at the time of writing. However in many ways it IS the state of the art when it comes to realistic handling, physics, and stage modelling.

Produced by Warthog in Sweden and endorsed by the brilliant British WRC champion Richard Burns, RBR was a vaguely promising-looking title from a mostly unknown studio that surprisingly turned out to be the king of rally sims. Not only did it come out of nowhere, the series was sadly destined to return there due to the tragic and untimely death of Burns in 2005, and the bankruptcy of the developer. So unlike the venerable Colin McRae Rally series, it’s a single, standalone game.

Most game series (and this is especially true of sports games) need to iterate on their base content a few times to really fulfill the promise of their source material. However, in the single game they produced Warthog Sweden managed to include dozens of unique stages, great replays, a championship mode and best of all, an interactive rally school that teaches you the individual maneuvers you need to drive a rally stage and can grade you on your performance. Stages are modeled on real-world events and can be miles long, far outclassing the rally content found in the Dirt series. All that content coupled with the superb handling model resulted in an exceptional sim… in 2004 anyway.

Taking the jump at the famous Mineshaft in Australia, driving Petter Solberg's WRC Subaru from 2009.

In the fast-improving world of PC hardware, a game typically has a very short life. Upgraded CPUs, video hardware, rendering APIs, and even input peripherals limit the effective lifespan. It’s definitely something of an anomaly that a 7 year old game still has an active community, but happily RBR’s fanbase has managed to update the sim to keep it relevant and usable.

The single best mod for RBR is RSRBR 2011. It’s a one-stop solution which adds dozens of new cars and stages, including modern WRC vehicles organized by season and the classic 80’s hugely-overpowered Group B cars. RSRBR even adds online play. RBR can now even support a multi-monitor setup using a program called Camhack (included in RSRBR) which can edit all aspects of the in-game camera views. It’s not perfect – HUD elements are stretched and the game’s UI is very dated – but the game is genuinely playable even when compared to modern sims. A lot of the current graphical polish is missing of course but in every other respect, RBR outclasses all other modern rally sims and is simply the most realistic pure rallying game available.

The game still looks pretty good!

  1. #1 by justinhj on June 29th, 2011 - 2:28 pm


    Nice review. I’ve been quite happy with Dirt 3, although I’ve played it for only about 30 minutes so far. Once you turn all the difficulty settings off “idiot” and get past the 10 second video per menu screen front end, it’s a good drive. Similar to Colin M 3

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