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Podcast

What makes a great rally game? The Traxion Podcast, episode one

In the inaugural episode of The Traxion Podcast, the team discuss rally game memories and what makes a great rallying experience.

Be it Sega Rally, Colin McRae Rally or even Gran Turismo and Forza Horizon – we discuss what technically is rallying, how some games introduce it to you in accessible formats, the future of the DIRT series and how WRC 9 is a return to form.

But, that’s not all. We’d like to hear from you in the comments, either below or on YouTube, what you think constitutes a great rally game or if you haven’t tried one in a while.

The Traxion Podcast is available on all major podcast outlets. Simply search “Traxion Podcast” on your favourite podcast service and subscribe to get instant notifications when the latest episode releases.

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The Traxion Podcast episode one, full transcript

John Munro:

Hello, everybody. Welcome along to the brand new traction podcast. Today in the first episode, we are going to be talking about rally gaming and I have been joined today by Tom Harrison-Lord and Justin Sutton. Guys, how are you getting on?

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Oh, really good. Happy to be here, John.

Justin Sutton:

I’m doing fantastic. How about you?

John Munro:

I am great. Thank you very much. I’m very excited to be talking about rally gaming because this is something I am hugely passionate about, ever since I’ve been a kid, I think rally gaming has been one of the biggest things for me since the Colin McRae series was, was out when I was young. And I think it’s just been, it’s been a big part with me throughout and it kind of went through a phase where rally games were a little bit quiet, I think, but I feel like there’s been recently quite a good kind of growth in it and it’s coming back. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to talking about it. I mean, how, how is rallying for you guys and, have you been playing since you were a kid aswell?

Tom Harrison-Lord:

After you just Justin.

Justin Sutton:

That’s a tough one. You know, rally games aren’t quite as popular in America. I’m also thirty something years old. And when I was a kid certainly the only like dirt-based racing game was the one where it’s like the top down, you know? And it’s more like monster trucks than rally cars really. Rally in America, especially in the nineties when I was a kid, they didn’t really go together all that much. I mean, I played SEGA rally, I guess. I think Gran Turismo was my first real foray into rally racing. And you know, I don’t even know if you can count that one.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah. That’s a good point. Is Gran Turismo a rally game? I would say it’s not a rally game, but it has some rally elements in it, is that okay. Justin, I don’t want to offend you right off the bat.

Justin Sutton:

It’s got, it’s got rally courses, but mean is it really a rally game. I don’t know. I don’t, I’m not so sure about that.

John Munro:

I feel like that’s lots of games though. Isn’t it? Cause I mean, like even I was playing TOCA race driver three recently and there’s there’s rally aspects to it. I think a lot of games, companies over the years, have tried to incorporate rally into, into real racing games. I don’t think you can capture it in quite the same way if you’re applying it to a game that’s not designed for rallying because I think there’s so many differences in terms of physics and stuff you’ve got to include. I mean, we’re lucky being from the UK, Tom, because we obviously grew up with, your PlayStation One and PlayStation Two, Colin McRae rally and the whole culture behind rally. You know, we had rallying on the TV all the time, the world rally championship, we had British drivers right near the top. So I feel like, we would call it lucky in that sense that we got to grow up with that. And, and it did form a big part of my racing game childhood, to be honest.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah. The, the nineties are early noughties and the eighties as well, rallying was massively popular in Europe. All the top drivers were from Europe. There are some obvious exceptions, but there’s never been a world championship winner from the United States of America. And I’m pretty sure the last WRC round that was in America was in the late eighties, the Olympus rally. So a lot of that is the culture that we’ve grew up, grew up in, in comparison to you, Justin, but that’s interesting. Cause it’s interesting to see what you think of rally and how you look at it from a different perspective there. I guess.

Justin Sutton:

We’ve had rallycross before I didn’t go, but I know for a fact that COTA hosted some rallycross but yeah, I didn’t get to actually see it myself, but yeah, it’s one of those things where as I’ve gotten older and have been exposed to it, especially, you know, because of things like the internet, you get to, you get to be exposed to these things that you didn’t get to see when before the internet existed before YouTube and all those kinds of things. It’s, it’s something that I wish I was more into. Certainly when I play Forza, for example, Forza Horizon, I much prefer the rally races over the street races. I have way more fun on the loose surfaces than I do on tarmac.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

And they’ve got some cool cars that have their lineage based in rallying and in Forza Horizon 4, even though it’s like an open world game, your driving on dirt, I guess the only difference. And I suppose we should clarify at this point, I think this is what Americans might call stage rally, but that’s probably what we would call where you have is point to point. And you have a co-driver given directions and I guess Forza Horizon doesn’t have that Gran Turismo doesn’t have the directions, but there’s at least the cars are in dirt and the cars were from rally originally. So there’s some crossover there and I guess that’s mainly the difference between rally and rallycross. Is that fair to say John?

John Munro:

Yeah, I think so. I think there’s, there’s always been a big thing between, you know, what is rally and then what is, dirt racing or something like that? I feel like stage rallying too. I think people from the EU mainly we just think of rally as that, if someone says rally, you’re thinking Colin McRae, you’re thinking Sebastian Loeb shooting through the Alps or wherever they might be. You’re not really thinking of that as the kind of the Baja stuff as the, land rush type racing that you get . I think games have done a lot in recent years to kind of incorporate that side of things into, I feel like a lot of the older rally games were more focused on what we would call like rallying with the stages and the co-driver. And then I think, from maybe Colin McRae DiRT onwards. It probably, I think the world or the European world of rallying was kind of opened up to that more outlandish style and I guess more action packed style. And I think that the, one of the big issues with rallying in general is, and we talked about this before, is a kind of lack of accessibility really because it’s, you know, for, for people in the States, it’s not that easy to, to get involved in or to, to watch. And I think that can kind of, I guess, rallying a big part about it is you in the car on the stage, right? It’s about you, being at one with with the elements, it’s not necessarily an entertainment for other people. It’s kind of a beautiful thing in itself. And I feel like, in recent times with games and everything, they’ve tried to kind of bring that more action packed kind of entertainment side to rallying. And to be honest, I don’t mind that I think it’s opened up quite a nice kind of crossover between two different things.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah, absolutely. I think I’ll say, Oh, go on. Justin.

Justin Sutton:

Yeah. I was just going to say, I think part of the reason that Americans don’t like rallying as well is because there’s no side-by-side stuff, you know, you’re one at a time like, okay, it’s been a few minutes now, the next person goes that sort of stuff I think is a little bit alien to Americans.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

I think also, well, one thing that did try in recent years was integrating the rallycross with some rally drivers into the X games. And actually, John’s mentioned Colin McRae many times, well, one of the famous things he did post WRC career was an incredible race in America, in the X games where he rolled this Subaru and then still carried on immediately – was in first gear before he landed on the wheels again. And, that gave him some popularity or of sorts or notoriety even in America. But yeah, also the majority of the rallies are over in Europe or Asia, the WRC hasn’t had a round in America, so yeah. But, the dirt games did take some of that X Games element, especially DiRT 2 and DiRT 3 and try and wrap that into appeal to a wider audience, I think.

John Munro:

I mean, for me with, with rallying, I think, as a driver myself, rallying as a sport is something that enjoyment comes from the driving experience you get from it. Right? So like when you think of rallying and wanting to try and drive a rally car up a stage, it’s the fun of driving is the thing that’s really exciting. It’s not necessarily the competition. You know, when you’re doing a rally event in real life, you’re competing against everyone else, yes. And the times are something to keep an eye on, but you’re running your own race at the same time. And wherever you end up in the stage or wherever you end up in the results, you then compare yourself to others and you can see where it’s going. But I think that maybe, maybe the reason that the games have gone this way.

John Munro:

And as I said before, I think it’s for the better, I think it’s probably because, when you’re just gaming and you’re doing this on your own, you don’t get the same enjoyment from driving as an experience as you would in real life. Right? So racing games are good, fun, because you can join the side by side racing and you can do a lot of the stuff you do in a real race, but just without the actual feelings of the sense of speed and the, and as much as the adrenaline and stuff like that. But a lot of elements of racing can be translated onto a sim or a game. Whereas with rallying, I feel like, a lot of those elements are lost because I think rallying is a scary sport. I think it’s terrifying. I think it’s you versus nature and the elements and you and your core driver alone in the forest.

John Munro:

And I feel like those are the kinds of aspects that don’t translate well to games, which is probably why a lot of companies went in that direction. And to be honest, in my opinion I think that that’s actually made people appreciate stage rallying more because I feel like, we’ve had a lot of this side-by-side racing and the kind of rallycross coming into it and a lot of the kind of X Games style stuff, which is huge fun, you know, I think we can all agree that like DiRT 3, DiRT 2 fantastic, great fun games. But I think that then, you know, when Codemasters, for example, went back to DiRT Rally and, and went back to a raw rally experience, it suddenly made it feel that bit more special because it was like, it was just something there’s just some magic about it. I can’t quite explain it. I mean, how many of us have gone through a stage in the first attempt?

Justin Sutton:

Yeah, my first stage in DiRT Rally, like first corner actually just rolled off the stage and I was like, well, this is how this is going to be going apparently.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

I think of it as like the Dark Souls of a racing game, but when you actually do succeed, it feels great. Yeah,

John Munro:

Exactly. Right. So it’s kinda rewarding, right. Because, for me personally, as well, I’ve got, a bit of a thing for these, for DiRT Rally’s original specifically, which is a game that I know Justin’s played. When I first started playing that game, that actually made me fall in love with the real sport of rallying more than I had ever before. And it got me really, really keen to do a rally in real life. And it was just because I just love the challenge of it. You know, I felt like as someone who’s done a lot of circuit racing and I played a lot of sim racing games, you want, a lot of the time and career modes and stuff, you just want something that’s really challenging. And I feel like the DiRT Rally game when I actually went up even against AI and did a full rally or through the campaign season or whatever, It just made me really want to go and watch real life rallying and try and,experience some of that where you don’t have to drive your fastest all the time to win.

John Munro:

You’ve got to be conservative, you’ve got to play it safe and it’ll work in the long run and that whole to, and fro where you can lose time with a mistake and gain it back. It just got me so excited and it really wanted to go and do it. And from that, I went back and watched all the nineties rallies, watched the Group B stuff from the eighties, as much as I could and It really ignited my passion.

Justin Sutton:

Where, where did you watch this? Can I watch it?

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Youtube.

John Munro:

Yeah. I mean, we can have a podcast in itself about every single video on YouTube that you can go and watch.

John Munro:

I mean, what I do want to talk about a wee bit is, what is the current state of rally gaming? Because I feel like, this has all been spawned by the release of DIRT 5, which is kind of one of the most recent big games to come out. And I think that for me, DIRT 5 highlighted the fact that this particular franchise has gone down two very separate routes. Cause we’ve been talking about the, the rally stage rallying route, and we’ve been talking about the kind of, what would you call it? The X Games, style freestyle rally stuff, and that you get okay. And I feel like what’s happened is they brought all of the fun stuff and the energetic stuff into rally games. And then there was like a bit of a clash of the two. And then I think to, make either one stand out as a good game and to be able to put full effort into either one, I think what’s happened is they’ve had to kind of split up again and full games about to focus on one or the other discipline.

John Munro:

And that’s caused, a lot of friction, I think with rally gaming fans, because, people enjoy both. Some people enjoy one and not the other, and you can imagine, sim racers may be enjoying the hardcore stuff and more arcade fans enjoy the kind of more extreme stuff where it’s a bit more about freestyle and everything. So I feel, like this, game is really the, I guess the defining moment where these two paths have completely split again and we’ve gone two different directions, but I don’t know what you guys think of it. I mean, you you’ve played a bit of DIRT 5 Tom, what do you think?

Tom Harrison-Lord:

I enjoyed DIRT 5, but it’s not a rally game because it doesn’t have any rallying in it. You know, its circuit racing in mud, which is slightly different in my opinion. So I think it’s quite an enjoyable game for what it is, and it’s very accessible and it will get a completely different audience to DiRT Rally 2.0. And I’m okay with that. I’m fine with them being two separate things. But I would say in terms of the current state of rally games, that DiRT Rally 2.0 was out in the last couple of years and has been constantly updated. I think it just probably received its most recent sort of final car at the end of 2020. Then there was WRC 9, which is the official licensed game of the World Rally Championship, which is the peak of the sport in real life. And that was the first good one in probably about 10 years. So actually there’s some really good energy and movement behind rally games, but at the same time, they’re probably a little less inaccessible than they ever have been because now, like you say, the main one – the dirt franchise is separated into two different paths. So you won’t get necessarily someone going DIRT 5 looks really cool and then, Oh, they might actually get into rally in a stealth kind of way. It’s very clear and defined now.

Justin Sutton:

And that, that kind of locks you out, you know, it takes away that opportunity of I’m going to buy the game for the arcade stuff and that’s going to get me into the sim stuff.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah. Right. Exactly. There’s only sim rally games at the minute. Which is great for some fans, but it’s not so good in terms of broadening the appeal of the spot.

John Munro:

Absolutely. I mean, if we go back to some of the games, that we’ve seen that kind of tried to bring the two sides together. So your likes of DiRT 3 is one, I’d always come back to you because for me, I just love that game. So like, you can shut me up for that whenever you want. It’s such a good game. And I think the reason it is such a good game is because it brings people from both sides and they can both have fun. But as you say, it introduces one to the other. So from my perspective, DiRT 3 introduced me into Gymkhana, DiRT 3 introduced me into the X Games style stuff. That could be really fun. And I did really, really enjoy it. But at the same time, a lot of people will have come in there that just enjoy their mad cars and their 600 horsepower Subaru’s doing jumps.

John Munro:

And then they would have found that stage rallying was actually enjoyable too and its own challenge. And I feel like what happens when you, when you split the games down two separate paths for each of the people that are so far down one end of the scale, it’s fine. Because I feel like, for a sim racer they’re going to enjoy one game and an arcade fan who hates stage rallying is going to enjoy the other. But what it doesn’t do is allow that crossover, it doesn’t, bring in new people because it’s so polarizing, DiRT Rally 2.0 for someone who isn’treally like has really good car control to put it simply. It’s just going to struggle with it and not really enjoy it. And you don’t have that compromise there with it because even, even with all your damage turned off and stuff, you’re still going to be putting it into the trees every third corner No matter how much experience you’ve got to be fair. But I mean, I can imagine if you weren’t experienced in it, I think it’s going to be pretty tough.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah. Even if you aren’t experienced, you’re upside down quite a lot. So I wouldn’t worry about it.

John Munro:

I think it’s good for, it’s good for the extremes, but I’m just not so sure. It’s, the best thing for moving forward to bring new people into the sport.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah, I agree. And I also, I just think that it’s not so much the driving in some respects, I feel it’s the concept of pace notes is really alien in comparison. It’s the only racing game where someone else is telling you which direction and you have to correlate, well, a six is that quick or one is that slow or they might have some other terms. And so that’s a barrier to entry, but then when you get in the flow, very little for me feels as good as a good rally game. That’s that’s where it’s at, in my opinion.

Justin Sutton:

Do you guys actually know, do you know the notes quite well, like when you hear it in your head, when you’re playing, does it just translate automatically? Cause for me, like, if you tell me one corner, if you say this corner is coming up, I’m like, Oh sweet. I know, I know exactly what you’re saying, but when he starts getting into, into the like thing, I’m like, be like, Oh wait, which one was next again? And I start getting lost.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

It takes time and you’ve got to build up. And that’s what we’ll put a lot of people off, but the pro rally drivers will hear a note two or three corners ahead. So they’re turning round, like, right-hand hairpin and the co-driver is reading out about the straight and the next corner and in rally games like DiRT and WRC, you can change how early or late you hear the pace notes. So it could be adjusting that might help you out a bit, but then who even knows to go in that setting and adjust that from the start. Over time, the better you get, the earlier you have the pace notes so that you can set the car up to two corners ahead so that you don’t crash. That’s the skill basically.

John Munro:

Absolutely. And to be fair that I think that’s been a big part of rally games. Like for me, growing up with actual stage rallying games, I’ve learned that as a kid, you know, and it wasn’t through deliberate being anything deliberate, or it was just through experience of playing these games. You get so used to pace notes that eventually, they really do make a difference. And I think they really come into it when you start being competitive. And when you start trying to beat, world records or trying to, race competitively, which I think is becoming a bigger thing with rallying, I think esports is definitely opening up to rallying in general. But I do feel like, things like pace notes, to those who are new to it, it’s gonna sound like a total mess and it’s going to be very confusing.

John Munro:

But as soon as you get used to it, it becomes like an absolutely crucial part. And I think that a huge part of the enjoyment as well, the more experience I get with rallying, the further I move forward the pace notes. So they are two or three corners before, and then you know, what’s coming a lot more, you can prepare for it in advance and it, to be honest, it does make it very enjoyable. Even on some games like Richard Burns Rally, which I definitely want to talk about in a minute, we’ll come to that, but you can adjust your pace notes. So you can effectively do recce run where you drive the stage slowly, adjust the pace notes to suit you and then go and attack the stage.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

There’s a couple of stages in particular, in some of the recent DiRT Rally 2.0 Scottish DLC, which I’m sure you’re a big fan of John.

Justin Sutton:

He can see his house!

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah. And in some way I personally, like, I was like, well, for my driving, that is not a one or two tight corner like. The note was too quick. And I was like, no, this needs to be a slow corner. Otherwise I just go straight off the edge and I wish I could pause the game and edit it. And Richard Burns on it. You could do that, but I’m just gonna ask just, you know, you’re good at multitasking.

Justin Sutton:

Sometimes? I guess it depends on the task.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

The pace does eventually just pick them. Like you absolve them. You don’t listen to them.

Justin Sutton:

Like learning a new language. You know, when you, when you’re first learning a new language, you have to, you have to hear the sentence and then you have to process it. But then as you learn the language more and more, you hear it and process it simultaneously. And you’re not thinking about it just becomes automatic. Weirdly I think the thing that I’ve played that translates the most to that, this is going to sound really weird is dance, dance, revolution. But yeah, when you’re staring at the screen, you’re like, okay, I gotta do this. And then I got to do this and then I got to do this, but you’re not, you’re thinking about every step. And then eventually once you play long enough, you can just see that stream of arrows going on and your feet just kind of move correctly. I assume it’s the same way with the rally notes. Eventually you hear it and it just becomes like English, you know, you’re just like, Oh yeah, I know exactly what you’re saying.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Exactly that rally 2.0 is basically dance, dance revolution DiRT

Justin Sutton:

With a wheel, with a wheel. Yeah.

John Munro:

It’s muscle memory. A lot of it. And I think it’s reaction. So, I’m used to hearing, you know, if it’s a six left or six, right, it’s probably flatout unless you’re doing 200 miles an hour, which you’re not going to be doing. If it’s a one or two, It’s a hairpin and everything in between, you get used to it with you get into the flow of a certain rally as well. So like maybe if you’re, if you’re racing on tarmac four right, it might be a really fast corner, whereas a four right on gravel might be a bit slower and, you kind of just naturally get used to what’s going on. Really. I think, I think also the best thing about pace notes, is they’re a great excuse, right? Because you know, you get to that same car every time, you flip your car over the cliff, and it’s so easy to blame Phil Mills or blame Nicky Grist on the game for getting it wrong.

John Munro:

They got a lot of stick in esports forums and stuff for, for causing crashes. And I absolutely I’m with them on that. I totally agree, it’s they’re fault. Actually, speaking of esports obviously, you know, seeing rallying making a move towards esports recently. We’ve had the likes of the DiRT World Series finals and everything coming up. And I think, you know, obviously it’s, it’s totally different circuit racing esports, it’s maybe going to be a bit more tricky to watch from most people, but I think there’s, a lot of scope for it to be entertaining. I don’t know about you guys, but I love the idea of, of sitting down and watching, you know, six of the best in the world fighting it out on a stage and, just seeing the differences and how on edge the cars are going to be. I think that’s really exciting.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

It depends on how it’s done for me. I think there’s a lot of potential there and how it evolves will be really to interesting follow I’d really like to tune into a broadcast that’s like watching the actual rallies in real life where one car sets off two minutes ahead of the other. So then you get all the time’s coming in you know, one after each other and you don’t quite know who’s going to be quickest and you can look at the split times and be like, Oh, they’re up there and they’re down there. So that’s what it needs to go towards. I feel like at the minute, most of the, even like the WRC sports events, the, all the drivers sort of set off at the same time, which maybe that’s a technological limitation to that, but in real life rally is one after each other.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

And there’s a slight overlap, so maybe they can improve and tweak and that for the future.

Justin Sutton:

You almost need like an open world game, right, to pull that off. You would almost need like a Forza Horizon game where you have like cameras set up along the stage and you have literally all the cars lined up and you say, all right, your turn.

John Munro:

That would be so good.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

That would be great. I also think that in real life, as much as I love it, real rallying has got some challenges in terms of in the UK. I’ve got a bit local here, but there’s forestry commissions that charge more than ever to close down forest roads. So therefore less, it’s more expensive to run a rally. Therefore, the insurance for the competitors is higher than ever. Then we’ve got things like, it’s really not a sport that’s adaptable at the minute for the electrification, you know, Formula E electric cars can do a circuit, but a rally car to go flat out over this long stage, then it has to drive to the next stage. Then it has to do the driving for the full day. So there’s big challenges. So with all these challenges, coming on these esports, rally, and if it’s done well, can be more important than ever. I’m not going to say it’s going to replace rallying, but I’m saying it should become more popular, I think.

John Munro:

Yeah, I totally agree with you, Tom. I think there’s not, there’s not really been a rally game. That’s properly implemented the, I guess the world of rallying outside of the stage. Right? So there’s a big thing. You’ve got your surface areas. These guys get up at four in the morning sometimes to drive for three hours to the start of stage one, which starts at 7:00 AM. They probably do their time control correctly. They do the stage, they finish the stage. They’ve then got to drive along the roads using this, no sat nav, using maps. Well, unless you’re crossing over to Holland, in which case you’ve got at Nick Delphia,

John Munro:

There’s no game that’s really implemented that fully. Obviously you wouldn’t want to implement it fully because we don’t, we don’t want to send it.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

It could be some mechanic involved into like your time in, of getting to the stage. Okay. All the tiredness of the drivers, the fatigue. There’s something that could be worked on that right now.

John Munro:

Yeah. A cut scene where you, where you’re, you know, you have to follow them out or just showing you where in the map you’re going to the next stage. It was a little, just any kind of engagement in between. I think it would be really cool for a rally game.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

And if the drivers get caught speeding in between the stages, they’re out of the event, doesn’t happen very often, but it’s a big part of the sport and they are timed between how they get from one stage to the other so that it’s not absolutely, you know, breaking the law and stuff. So there’s all sorts too, but perhaps not the most thrilling part of the rallying, but then Hey, people, people play autobahn simulator, don’t they or truck simulators and stuff like this.

Justin Sutton:

It’s true.

John Munro:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think there would definitely need to be something to keep it enjoyable or at least the options to play around with. So someone can turn off. But I mean, that, that brings me on to something I want to talk about. What do you, what would you guys say is definitively, if you can define it, you know, the best rally game or what makes a rally game brilliant? I’ll maybe start with you, Tom. What would you put forward as some of your favorite rally games of all time and why?

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Goodness, that is difficult question. Many, many, many there’s one, one has a special place in my heart. And that is the first Colin McRae rally game on PlayStation, the first one by Codemasters. Because that was basically the first decent rally game on a home console. And it sort of broke through and sold well to people who never heard of rallying. And it’s often said that Colin McRae was a real rally driver, but a lot of people just thought he was a made up character for the game name. And so, that just shows how popular it was. So that was, that was great that’s got to be my favorite games because technically and graphically, no, it doesn’t hold up. It’s all, you know, but it’s what it represented. And because of that, a load of other rally games appeared on the market and tried competing.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

And then I think, Oh, DiRT 2 and DiRT 3 they’re games that are on the PlayStation 3 slash X-Box 360 era. They were both really good. There’s a lot of fans for both. I err on the side of DiRT 3 because the stage rally was better than DiRT 2, but DiRT 2 was more fun in other areas. I understand that debate. I appreciate it, but DiRT 3’s better. And then the pentacle, the hardcore rally sim is probably just DiRT Rally 2.0. But what I would say about that is upon launch. I wasn’t a huge fan of the DLC pricing and structure, but if you can find the complete version for a good price, that’s excellent because you get all the stages of DiRT Rally 1, but with better graphics, you get all these new cars and you get this amazing Colin McRae attribute DLC, which is worth it for the sound of one of the Subaru’s alone.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

But final point I would say is that the latest WRC game is the best one in a while. I’ve already said that and the actual car handling and that is excellent. So they could really build that into something great. This, coming year or the year after… Flip side Codemasters has got the WRC license from 2022? 2023? So the current developer of the WRC game has just finally broken through with a great one and actually probably been taken away from him in some respects. So it’s going to be interesting to see how that develops.

John Munro:

What’s your thoughts Justin?

Justin Sutton:

That’s unfortunate. So my big experience with rally games is with the original DiRT Rally is I would say the one that I’ve spent the most time with, again, I have lots of loose surface racing experience with Forza Horizon 3 and Forza Horizon 4, but those aren’t those aren’t rally games. But I did, I did really like it and I really, I do really like the physics of Horizon 3 and Horizon 4, just because it is ultra accessible. You can do it on a controller and have a great time. You can also chuck on a wheel like I’ve done for the majority of my hours, which is hundreds between the two of them. Between 3 and 4, I’ve spent probably 400 or 500 hours. And almost all of that is loose surface racing. If I’m honest, like it’s just really, it’s really forgiving and yet rewarding at the same time.

Justin Sutton:

I think they’ve really struck a nice balance over there, but I will say I did really, really like the career mode aspect the in-depth nature of DiRT Rally having to manage repairs and all of that kind of stuff. I thought I thought was really, really good. That’s not something that I’ve experienced before. I haven’t played any of the WRC games. I did hear bad things about the previous ones though. You know, like when WRC, I think eight came out I was really excited pre-released I was like, Oh, maybe this will be the one that I buy. And then people told me, Nope, Nope, probably don’t want to do that.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

There was a rough patch there. Cause I think on the PlayStation 2 era evolution studios, WRC is a license was exclusive to PlayStation and only in the pal region, I don’t think apart from the first one, WRC two, three, four, or Rally Evolve, the fifth, were available in America could be wrong there.

Justin Sutton:

Wouldn’t surprise me.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Checking me in the comments or on Twitter or something

Justin Sutton:

At least on console. On Steam, it would be region. It would be region free. So yeah, on Steam you would be able to get any game at all from any country ever, but yeah, on consoles. Yeah.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah. Well, that was a Sony exclusive, so it didn’t come to PC even.

Justin Sutton:

Right. Oh yeah, good point.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

And after that milestone, their Italian developer had the WRC license. It was on every console and every region and it was, it was a bit ropey. And then when you mentioned to WRCA, I think that could have been the first one or was it seven around that time when it switched development houses again and they had a very short period of time to get up to speed. So yeah, there were rough times, so there were only four hardcore WRC fans because the game play wasn’t that great. But for me it was like, Oh, I get to play my favorite driver.

John Munro:

That’s what I mean. I find that experience with WRC. I think I bought WRC six or seven. I can’t describe to you how much I cared about it.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Right. Someone has at some point.

John Munro:

I bought it because it was probably like £1 on Steam and yeah, it was cool because I got to drive as Robert Kubica. So, you know, we needed his rallying experience and I got to try as real guys and all of that, but at that point I’d already been playing a lot with the Codemasters, non licensed games. So it was nice to see that, but the physics were so off-putting that after two or three stages of attempts, I think I’d never played the game again. And it was…

Justin Sutton:

Were you on a wheel?

John Munro:

…Such A shame, I was on a wheel. Yeah. And it should have been good. And it wasn’t, and it was really disappointing because I was thinking to myself, if you could just combine what we’ve got with DiRT Rally and DiRT 2.0 with this licensing and with this idea of a career mode that develop, you know, you start off in WRC 3, you can join teams, we’ve up to WRC 2, all that was so exciting to me that it was just such a shame that these two different games that both had such good parts in one area were kind of I guess the other part really didn’t compliment it in that sense.

John Munro:

And it’d be really good if the two of them could be together. I think that’s, what’s such a good thing about, you know, the fact that WRC 9 has been such a hit. I think they’ve really got together, got themselves together. They’ve sorted the physics out. And for me, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a funny one because it’s finally beginning to, I guess, oppose Codemasters of DiRT Rally series as a, as a top level rally SIM and now. We’ll take that back. We’ll have the licensing.

John Munro:

I do think it’d be interesting to see what comes from those two and then a new future for me though, in terms of talking about best rally games ever. Yeah. Obviously I need to give a big shout out to the DiRT Rally series as we have done that earlier dirt rallies. The thing that got me involved in real life rallying, or got me interested in it to the point where I was watching hours and hours and hours of content and still do to this day.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah.

John Munro:

And I think I’ve got that game to thank for it, but the one game I need to talk about a lot here. It needs to get a massive mention because not enough people really knew about it and not enough people know how good it still is. And that’s Richard Burns rally, you know, this game it was released and I think 2002 or 2003, and you play other games from that era and you think, Oh, they’re okay for their age and stuff, but they’re nothing like games today.

John Munro:

And I’m telling you right now, if you get the right, set up with Richard Burns Rally and you get Richard Burns Rally Pro, or one of these mods that that guys have done for themit is still the best rally sim out there in terms of the physics and the amount of stages. And I’m telling you, like, as soon as I thought DiRT Rally 2.0, was it for me? I was like, this is great. We finally got a rally sim that feels like a sim in the same way that, you know, rFactor, iRacing, Assetto Corsa feel like a sim on the road stuff and I went and refound Richard Burns rally, and I will bat all day for it.

John Munro:

Come at me and I will fight you off because that game is sensational. And the fact that you can still get, it’s just the physics feel so real. The cars handle exactly like you’d expect, the gold eighties cars feel heavy and powerful, and I’m just a bit liary and the more modern cars feel so refined, and the F-MOD, now in charge with a lot of the sounds with it. They’re developing sounds for the cars. So the sounds are basically like a 2020 game. And it’s the problem with it is it’s just not accessible because you need to know about how to download it and get all these mods for it. There’s too much fiddling around with it, right? And it’s a 2003 game. So it’s not designed to have a modern user interface or anything, but as soon as you get on the stage and you’re sitting on the start line it’s even VR compatible. Now you sit there and you’re ready to go and Oh, wow. At the end of the stage, you just sit there and go, this cannot be beaten.

Justin Sutton:

Have you done it in VR?

John Munro:

Yes. Yeah.

John Munro:

It was really good, so the problem again with that Justin is exactly the same as the rest of the game is the accessibility because running it in VR requires you to change all the settings and get everything going. And as soon as you take the headset off the game crashes, because it’s a 2003 game, that people have put some time into adapting things for, right. So if you were to have the accessibility of like DiRT Rally 2.0 with the raw physics gameplay content of a moded version of, Richard Burns rally from 2003, it would just be such a good game. It would be phenomenal. And I really urge for anyone listening to that’s a real rally game fan, that might not, you know, it might’ve just thought the fight was between WRC 9 and DiRT Rally, please go and go and look this up. You know, Richard Burns Rally Pro and just, just find out about it because I mean, I, and I promise I’m not affiliated with it anyway. I know none of the guys that are involved in it, but I just absolutely love it. I think it’s amazing.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Can I just ask, so Richard Burns Rally Pro, am I correct in thinking that, there was never a sequel, right? So the people who are modding the game and doing the pro version of VR games, you know, how are they making a business out of that? And is that legitimate? Or basically what I think, and I agree that Richard Burns rally’s amazing. But it’s amazing because the original physics were great, but then unfortunately there was never a sequel not enough people bought it originally. And it’s the modding scene over the years, that’s sort of kept the community going. Right. Is that fair to say?

John Munro:

Well, kind of, yeah. I mean, I obviously don’t know how much we can go into it in this podcast and the details. I don’t know the details that much, but I know that there’s people working on developing it and it works on a donation basis. So you can get this for free, you know, anyone can download Richard Burns Rally Pro for free and you can choose to donate and, and trust me if it was £50 to get it, and you’re paying a full game price, I would pay it twice. You know, I actually got my VR headset in some ways for this game. It’s that good?

Justin Sutton:

Wow.

John Munro:

And I just think that, you know, obviously, so they work on donations and they do what they can, but they’re not, it’s not been set up as a new game that’s been launched, you know, it doesn’t have modern day technology driving it and the physics engine and everything. So there’s, there’s only so much you can do with it. But I just feel like if someone was to remake that game, the potential of it is phenomenal. And the fact that it’s, you know, again, that’s now 17 years old, still stacks up better than most of its rivals. I just think is one of the, honestly, one of the greatest achievements in gaming that nobody that not many people know about it, there’s just not that many people on it. So yeah,

Tom Harrison-Lord:

I guess not people so much it is a very niche product. And I guess, because it’s not like officially sanctioned, or there was never a sequel, there’s no marketing behind it. Right.

John Munro:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

John Munro:

So, although I understand that like Richard Burns rally is such a phenomenal game. I’m also fully aware that is not necessarily accessible for people because it’s so difficult, you know, and as you’ve probably found out yourself Tom if you’ve tried it it’s not easy at all.So, you know, if you’re looking at the best rally game of all time, I’d say that’s the one for your hard, hardcore racers that want to be screaming and punching walls and throwing themselves through the door and pain. And if you don’t want that, I think then it comes down to, you know, the likes of DiRT 3 is a brilliant amalgamation of, rally disciplines, or it comes down to, you know, DiRT Rally or DiRT Rally 2.0, I think that’s, from my point of view that that’s kind of where I stand with it.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Yeah, I would, I would agree with that. They’re the ones. And if you find a good deal and to WRC 9 and want something that’s not made by Codemasters and current, then give it a shot. Cause that’s also pretty good these days.

John Munro:

Or play Forza Horizon 4, right Justin?

Justin Sutton:

If you’ve already got Forza, give it a, give it a go. I have several rally courses. They’re not really, you know, cause there’s no stages or whatever, but I have like a 26 mile long dirt rally course. So if you know my Xbox username, look it up cause I’m not gonna say it.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Oh no.

John Munro:

I would also at this point, give a massive shout out to the potential of, of a game called Beam NG. But I think we’ll be here for another hour. So we’ll, we’ll cover that in another podcast. In the meantime guys, I guess that’s been a general discussion about, about the state of rallying and rally sims and rallying and gaming. And I think we can all agree, you know, we need that. And then more sport racing games. I think it’s a huge, hugely important discipline. And I think it provides everyone with, within a good escapism and a lot of fun. So I think the future is bright for, for a rally gaming, brighter than ever before, which is really nice. So yeah. Thank you so much for joining me we’ve had Tom Harrison-Lord and Justin Sutton. Thank you guys so much. In the meantime, guys, don’t forget to subscribe to the Traxion channel, hit the notification bell and obviously like the video, let us know what you agree with. Let us know what you disagree with. Please be sure to shout all sorts of abuse us in the comments down below, but that’s been it for now, my name’s John Munro. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.

Tom Harrison-Lord:

Thank you. Bye.

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