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Richard Burns Rally

Hardcore rallying fuelled by obsession and powered by patience

It's been well hardcore at CVG this month. Not because the Nurse finally got her tips out, but because of the harcore games. IndyCar 2005 is a full-on simulation of oval racing and NHL Eastside is a stat-heavy puck fan's dream. And Richard Burns Rally? Put it this way: the developers didn't program it - they chiselled it from a block of granite.

Richard Burns himself guides you through the tutorial, and despite some long loading delays it's actually rewarding. Unlike GT4 Prologue, which felt a bit patronising, RBR actually teaches you something about the tactics real rally drivers use.

And by crikey you'll have to learn. RBR wants to be the ultimate rally simulation. Forget jumping behind the wheel and peeling off powerslides - you must learn how the car handles before you can do any of the exciting stuff.

Chewin' On Gravel
The effect of this super-hardcore handling is that just getting around a stage is a hell of an achievement. Every bend, no matter how slight, is a challenge that must be met with skill and conviction. Bugger it up and it'll bugger you right back.

Add to this the truly pant-crapping speed your motor thumps out and you've got a game that snarls at you like a blue-balled Rottweiler. Taming it is a genuinely satisfying experience, but requires serious patience.

Thing is, since we're international playboys here on CVG, we've been rally driving, and it didn't really feel like this. The cars skitter around with a frustrating looseness and never feel as heavy as you would expect. Part of the problem is that it's tough to apply realistic car handling to a joypad; RBR is far more reactive with a force feedback steering wheel.

Crucially, it's not much fun. You end up driving around like a pensioner, terrified to touch the accelerator and messing yourself every time a corner looms.

That's the problem with hardcore games. There's a fantastic rally experience growling under RBR's bonnet, but you have to be a full-on rally fan to tease it out.

The verdict

Impressively adept sim with hardcore credentials, but not accessible or instantly rewarding enough. Aimed squarely at the most mental rally fans amongst ya.

PlayStation 2
Racing / Driving