Just because you can build it, doesn’t mean you should. The development of open source PC rally simulator gRally was once a quest to move on from the ancient Richard Burns Rally platform by taking the best bits of what the rally sim community could come up with and packing their work into an entirely new title, but with five years spent behind closed doors, virtually no major advancements in development to speak of, and a very different sim racing landscape compared to when the title was first teased in December of 2012, I have a very difficult time supporting what RBR-Online.it are attempting to do in the spring of 2017. gRally has moved onto Steam Greenlight, so they’re inching closer to letting the public have a go at what the indie simulator has to offer, but a very important question needs to be answered – does anyone actually care?
No, they don’t. And there are fairly valid reasons as to why.
According to VirtualR, talk of gRally first began sometime in 2011, which at least provided a reason for this project to start up in the first place. At the time, rally simulators just weren’t made, and the few rally games on the market had taken a very casual approach that put off a lot of hardcore simulation fans. The Milestone WRC titles were nothing to write home about, featuring giant tracks and a really simplistic handling model, while Codemasters’ own DiRT 3 injected a lot of non-rally elements into the core gameplay experience, forcing many of our resident sim dads to tolerate both short course off road racing, as well as freestyle gymkhana, in addition to what was a very simplified point-to-point rally offering – intended primarily for a different generation of gamers.
Richard Burns Rally had also been getting a bit long in the tooth; people were simply tired of modding it, sick of working with ancient software and the limitations placed by SCi on the actual rallying due to the technology they were working with at the time – so it was only natural to want something more. RBR-Online.it basically came out and said they’d provide a solution to these problems by creating their own simulator that met everyone’s needs.
Then they went silent for several years.
In the meantime, the market became over-saturated with rally games, and not just any rally games, but good rally games. While the team behind gRally were hard at work on their own little simulator, Codemasters built a spiritual successor to Richard Burns Rally in private, and just sort of released it on Steam one day without any prior warning. DiRT Rally was an instant success, warranting a current generation console release, as well as a PlayStation VR re-release a few months later. Milestone, the company who once spearheaded the officially licensed WRC titles, lost the WRC license, but promptly set out to build their own hardcore simulator. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo features significantly more content than DiRT Rally, though your experience may vary depending on your platform of choice – the PC version can be turned into a sublime experience with certain third party patches which remove trademark Milestone niggles, while the PS4 version suffers from enormous framerate and input lag problems.
Regardless, there are two exceptional modern rally simulators you can currently purchase for the PC, built by massive developer teams with equally massive budgets and licenses.
And we haven’t even gotten to the other two players. The WRC license ended up going to a French team by the name of Kylotonn Games, who stumbled out of the gate in 2015 with WRC 5, but allegedly put together a somewhat acceptable simcade offering with WRC 6 in 2016 – depending on which sim racing outlets you trust. Richard Burns Rally, a simulator rally enthusiasts have been playing & modding for over a decade, has also been blown wide open, with the NGP physics project basically re-building the game from the ground up, producing a driving model that takes lessons learned from other modern simulators and generates much more convincing tire behavior at the limit of adhesion compared to the vanilla experience – which saw literal rocket ships maintain crazy slip angles that added to the title’s Grand Prix Legends-like reputation of being completely fucking ridiculous for veteran sim racers to master.
So there are four reasonable rally simulators on the market in February of 2017. The team behind gRally believe there is room for a fifth, and it looks like this:
The major sim racing websites will all celebrate this game’s arrival on Steam Greenlight, but I can’t say I echo their enthusiasm. We are spoiled with high quality rally simulators, as DiRT Rally, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, and Richard Burns Rally 2016 are all available at this very moment – with the latter being a free download thanks to the game’s abandonware status. Codemasters have also recently revealed their plans to release DiRT 4 in June of 2017, bringing that number to four by the time the public would be able to get their hands on gRally in some sort of beta environment.
I’m unsure what incentive anybody would have to buy this game. DiRT 3 was free at some point last year and basically any person on the planet who didn’t already own it yet was still curious about the game, now have DiRT 3 in their Steam library, which despite the addition of race types unrelated to point-to-point rallying, is still a fantastic all-encompassing off-road racing game. DiRT Rally was essentially a high-res remake of Richard Burns Rally, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo offers more content than DiRT Rally and a more realistic sense of weight transfer provided you pick up the third-party patch that unfucks all of Milestone’s hiccups, and DiRT 4 will be on store shelves in a few short months – a game boasting randomly generated stages, online leagues, and a massive single player career mode. And if none of the above sound appealing, you can just go out and download a 2016 upgrade for Richard Burns Rally, as the game is technically abandonware and people can just release the whole game, brought up to 2016 standards, on Mediafire.
- gRally is not in a position to have official licenses at the moment and its starting point is a limited number of racing cars.
- gRally, considered its Indie character, is modding-oriented. We developed integrated Unity tools that will facilitate the insertion of your creations, whether it be additional cars or tracks.
- gRally recreates the range of real rally conditions that drivers must face, including various type of surface and climate as well as different times of day and night.
Next to no content, visually unappealing, powered by the Unity engine, and encouraging scratch-built modding projects – all when a game set to be released in a few months has an in-game stage generation tool… Why should we be excited for this, exactly? In 2011, I can at least see why this game was on the drawing board, but fast forward to 2017, and it’s instead horrendously dated, falling behind no less than four or five rally games that offer an infinitely better experience.
I’m genuinely surprised the project wasn’t scrapped; there is no point to this title’s existence.