Top 10 Best Rally Video Games in History That Are Still Fun to Play Today

Tags: #DiRTRally2.0 ,   #SegaRally ,   #RichardBurnsRally ,   #WRC9 ,   #Rally

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2020-11-12 16:33:57

Rally racing is the ultimate test of driving abilities. To be a rally champion, you have to be a brave soul capable of tackling the most formidable challenges. Going over 100 mph on a narrow road in the middle of the night might be scary, but it's also a perfect material for a video game. Our top 10 best rally video games list features only one game per series and includes both simulations and arcade games. Also, we've listed the other recommended games from the franchise, if any. With that out of the way, it's time to start the engines!

10. Neo Drift Out: New Technology (NeoGeo, NeoGeo CD)

Neo Drift Out is the perfect top down rally racer

Due to its high price and scarcity, many NeoGeo games were relatively unknown until the rise of emulation. While this platform is mostly known for fighting games, Neo Drift Out stood as an example of how good rally games can be on a 16-bit platform. Like all arcade games, this one is pretty short, with only six stages featuring all surfaces.

Surprisingly, the game features licensed vehicles, including Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Celica, and Subaru Impreza. All of them offer slightly different performances. The isometric view is zoomed out to give you enough time to react, and your co-driver will tell you all about the next turn. For skilled drivers, there are even shortcuts! Cars in Neo Drift Out are easy to control while drifting mechanics is incredibly fun. Plus, the beautiful hand-drawn graphics stand the test of time better than early polygonal games.

Also try: Super Drift Out (SNES), Drift Out '94: The Hard Order (Arcade)

9. Rallisport Challenge 2 (Xbox)

Rallisport Challenge 2 sways toward arcade despite realistic cars

It sounds weird, but Rallisport Challenge 2 is developed by the same guys and girls responsible for the Battlefield series! This high-speed game is somewhere between the arcade and the sim, and it offers a lot of content. This is the only title on our list that offers four rally racing types, including ice racing, hill climb, rallycross, and classic rally races.

The driving experience is fun and forgiving since the tracks are wide, and you'll have to try hard to break the car. Also, since the stages are so short, you probably won't have the time to destroy it. While it sure looks a bit dated now, this was one of the best looking games at the time. Unfortunately, it's only available on the original Xbox, so not many players will enjoy it.

Also try: Rallisport Challenge (Xbox)

8. Rally Trophy (PC)

Rally Trophy is all about the history of rally racing

Before they developed a wonderful Flatout series and Wreckfest, Bugbear Entertainment made its debut with Rally Trophy. What makes this game unique today is that it focuses on the early era of rally racing. There are no modern WRC monsters here like Audi Quattro driven by Michèle Mouton, just a ton of models from the sixties and the seventies, which are incredibly challenging to drive.

Still, that's what makes them fun! The stages are massive, and the roads are wide, giving you plenty of opportunities to recover if you've made a mistake. However, we just wish there were more rallies. Rally Trophy can be played on modern gaming PCs with a few fan patches, and it's still worthy of your time as if you are into retro rally racing.

Also try: Wreckfest (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

7. Sebastian Loeb Rally Evo (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo is the best Milestone rally game

Once Milestone lost the WRC license, they teamed up with the greatest rally driver in history, Sebastian Loeb. The result of their collaboration is one of the most feature-rich rally games. The unique aspect here is exploring Loeb's career through a dedicated mode, explained through a series of fun and informative videos. Alternatively, you can dive into a lengthy career that will take you across eight rallies worldwide.

The reason why this game is not higher on our list is its driving model. While some will say that it's very realistic, we think that it's, well, hard. The handling is twitchy, and the cars feel like they lack weight. You'll see that when they bounce as you hit a barrier. So, while this one is not for everyone, you should give it a go, especially as it's dirt cheap now.

Also try: WRC 4 (Milestone – PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita)

6. Mobil 1 Rally Championship (PC)

There's no game with such long stages as Mobil 1 Rally Championship

Mobil 1 Rally Championship is the only game on our list that features massive, real-life stages. This means that plenty of them are longer than 15 miles, even getting close to 30! As the game features narrow roads and a punishing damage model, you'll be happy only to survive.

What we never particularly liked here is the physics model, which is challenging rather than realistic. However, it's still far from unplayable, even today. Of course, such an old game can't look particularly good today, but modern PCs can still run it.  Long and realistic championship always makes this one attractive to play, so give this forgotten classic a try! Oh, and there's a PlayStation version, but don't bother with it.

Also try: International Rally Championship (PC)

5. WRC 10 (PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch)

You can drive classic like Subaru Impreza in WRC 10

It took them half a decade, but Paris developer Kylotonn finally nailed it with WRC 9 and took it a step further with WRC 10! This game represents the 2021 WRC season, featuring all the events except the Arctic Rally as a substitute event. While the license helps, more important is that we've finally got the realistic and predictable handling model that nicely simulates the changes on the surface. Stages are all handcrafted and can be more than ten miles long, so you'll need to keep your cool.

This game also offers the best-ever career mode. You can start your journey driving in Junior WRC before progressing through three higher classes. There is so much stuff to do between races, working with sponsors, improving your car, or hiring crew members. Finally, there's 50th Anniversary mode where you can drive some of the classic cars and stages. Grab the PS5 version if you can, as the DualSense controller support is excellent.

Also try: WRC 9

4. Sega Rally Championship (Arcade)

Sega Rally features a timeless gameplay

With only four tracks and three cars, Sega Rally Championship is a game that lacks content. Still, even today, it's incredibly fun to drive! The game features stunning looking stages and the best ever arcade driving model. Sliding legendary Lancia Delta Integrale and Toyota Celica while fighting against the time and the opponents never lost its charm.

At the time of its release, Sega Rally was a technological marvel, beating everything available on PC and consoles. Later ports on PC and Sega Saturn couldn't do it justice, so the original arcade release is still the best. The next games in the series are also solid, but the original is our top choice for quick-fix gaming. Now, if it could only get a remaster.

Also try: Sega Rally 2 (Arcade, Dreamcast, PC), Sega Rally Revo (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

3. WRC 4 (PS2)

WRC 4 is still fun to play, despite the graphics

Now defunct Evolution Studios might be best known for their MotorStorm series and underappreciated DriveClub, but their WRC games were also excellent. Even though five titles were released as PS2 exclusives, only the first one appeared in North America. That's a shame, as all later releases were much improved.

WRC 4 is the best of the bunch as it offers an excellent career mode, plenty of tracks, and an immensely fun driving model that's sim oriented. Featuring a superb damage model and fantastic graphics at the time, WRC 4 is still highly playable. It also features a hot seat championship, which is unfortunately so rare these days.

Also try: WRC 2 Extreme (PS2), WRC 3 (PS2), WRC: Rally Evolved (PS2)

2. Richard Burns Rally (PC)

There's no rally racer with so many mods as Richard Burns Rally

Once you start playing Richard Burns Rally, you'll quickly realize why it never sold well. This is the ultimate survival game, where every turn is another chance for a disaster that will turn your car into junkyard material. Only those with a lot of patience and love for the sport will manage to get a hold of its complex physics. This game was so hard that even some WRC drivers complained that the developers overdid it! Still, until this day, the game has a large and fanatical following, mostly thanks to improvements made by fans.

No stone is left unturned as modders added hundreds of cars and stages, but also multiplayer and VR support. While the graphics look dated now, there are visual packages that will make it more tolerable. Be aware that you'll need some patience to install mods, but it's not hard to find the tutorials online.

Also try: Rally Championship Xtreme (PC)

1. Dirt Rally 2.0 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

In Dirt Rally 2.0, crossing the finish line intact is a huge challenge

For years fans begged Codemasters to release realistic rally simulation, and in 2015, they finally did it. Dirt Rally was shockingly good, and the game was quickly hailed as the successor to Richard Burns Rally. Finally, we got a game where every mistake is severely punished! And you know what? It was fun! Just finishing the stage without much damage was more satisfying than winning in other games.

Dirt Rally 2.0 was a natural evolution, as it doubled the content while improving the handling. Although the game is perfectly playable on the gamepad, combining a wheel and the VR takes things to a much higher level. The only element that needs serious improvement is the career mode. The rivals are brutally fast, while there is not much to do between races but upgrade your stuff. Dirt Rally 2.0 also offers daily, monthly and weekly challenges, where there are no restarts. Give them a try for the ultimate challenge!

Also try: Colin McRae Rally 2005 (PC, PS2, Xbox), Dirt 2 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

There is something unique about every game featured on our list, which makes them all recommended. Even though Dirt 2.0 is our choice for the best rally racing game overall, maybe you'll prefer the moddability of Richard Burns Rally or the simplicity of Sega Rally.

What are your rally racing favorites? Do you prefer arcade or sim-like experience? Tell us in the comments!

Picture credit: Pixabay


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