Let’s make like an archaeologist, and dig up old gems and really valuable artifacts. Games that either were too old to remember or were overshadowed or got stuck in development hell or something prevented something really very good from being a smashing success.
For example, back in 2004, Colin McRae 05 rally was king of the rally sim. And for good reason: it was challenging but also accessible and conveyed very much of the excitement of rallying. For that reason another sim, with the most intensely realistic physic model and technical rigor, went unnoticed and was deemed a commercial failure.
The rally legend behind the eponymous Richard Burns Rally died shortly thereafter, and was therefore unfortunately not present to witness the gradual rise from the ashes of almost zero sales to an enduring cult following that has culminated in a fan-driven reboot of the game as of last year. You thought Dirt: Rally was difficult? The main issue with RBR was that it was brutally unforgiving. In rally, a mistake is a mistake and then you go fender first into a tree or fly off a cliff or hit a divot and your car goes flipping into the forest. There was an entire tutorial section to rival the likes of the GT license levels, that taught you all the various techniques of rallying, all of which you had to master in order to even hope to make it through a stage in one piece. But it was the twitchiness of the controls that made things truly scary: apply the throttle with even half a tyre on the wrong surface a fraction of a second too soon and you’ll know it instantly. The game is liberally plastered with hints and tips about how to drive within your limits, take it easy, get used to things, all the while tempting you and goading you with Richard Burns’ own times which are blisteringly quick, actual professional simulations. When you do nail it however, dancing over the course with your armament of Scandanavian flicks, lift off oversteer, and brake feathering under throttle to pitch the nose in, it brings a sense of satisfaction rarely met in any other game.
All that in 2004: the world simply wasn’t ready. Probably a great deal many monitors were thrown out the window in ragequit. And for me that is what makes this game all the more delicious to sink my teeth into.
Warning: you can, sort of, play this game with keyboard, but it’s highly unadvisable. It’s about as sensible as trying to play NFS: Shift with a keyboard… immensely finnicky. It’s not like they give you an option to use ABS here, either.
Example video will appear below once it finishes uploading: