Why The EA SPORTS WRC Team Restored A Historic Rally Car

Why The EA SPORTS WRC Team Restored A Historic Rally Car.jpg
Images: Taken by OverTake in DiRT Rally 2.0 and EA SPORTS WRC
In the hunt for authentic sound, the developers of the EA SPORTS WRC game went to extraordinary lengths.

Engine sound is a crucial element within a driving game, and sometimes it can be overlooked in favour of handling precision or graphical prowess.

But it should never be underestimated. Imagine a representation of a historical car in a video game looking exactly like the real deal, only to sound like a tumble dryer. A complete immersion robber.

I personally always thought that the raucous soundtrack to 2019’s DiRT Rally 2.0 was one of that simulation’s strong suits, especially in direct comparison to contemporary rivals. It was the rallying equivalent of a Hans Zimmer film score.

Seat Ibiza Kit Car, F2, DiRT Rally 2.0 03.jpg

Seat Ibiza Kit Car, F2, DiRT Rally 2.0

Then the Southam-based Codemasters development team secured the rights to the FIA World Rally Championship it would be fair to assume that they simply carried across the engine sounds to the new title.

While that may be the case in some instances, it did go through the trouble of re-recording available noises for cars that were in both DiRT Rally 2.0 and EA SPORTS WRC.

One such vehicle is the Seat Ibiza Kit Car.

To my ears, the previous platform’s depiction of its engine was bombastic, with a resonance that sounded as if the car could vibrate itself into small pieces at any moment.

But, to the creation team, it was irksome. As it turns out, the tone was not a facsimile, but rather an approximation created by amalgamating other models.

“The team had struggled to source a Seat Ibiza rally car as they are a particularly rare marque with only a few produced when it was homologated for the FIA 2-Litre World Rally Cup,” explains Codemasters to OverTake.

“Until now, the team had a workaround for the sound of this vehicle, which included the recording of a number of F2-class cars over the years, which were spec matched with alternate engine audio assets for the Ibiza.”

Seat Ibiza Kit Car, F2, DiRT Rally 2.0 02.jpg

Seat Ibiza Kit Car, F2, DiRT Rally 2.0

That was not good enough this time around. With a dearth of running Ibiza F2s, a cunning plan was formed.

1996 British Rally Champion Gwyndaf Evans was a Seat driver in the late 1990s and early 2000s, entering 20 events in an ‘Evo2’ specification model. The Welsh rally star and present-day car dealership owner challenged for a second British rally title in 1998 and 1999, finishing runner-up in both seasons using one of the Spanish hatchbacks.

So enamoured was he by the front-wheel-drive buzz box, that he purchased an ex-competition car for himself, occupying floor space in his Suzuki and Ford franchise.

In theory, then, Codemasters could ask politely to borrow his example and record the sound of its 2-litre naturally aspirated engine.

Except, while it was visually appealing sat in the Dolgellau showroom, mechanically it needed some work. A hiccup if you need to record engine sounds for an upcoming video game.

However, on a recent episode of the idiosyncratic rally programme Yn y Garej (In the Garage) with Evans’ former co-driver Howard Davies, it was revealed that a unique plan had been hatched.


“Codemasters offered a good deal, which doesn’t happen often for me,” enthuses Evans, father to current World Rally Championship contender Elfyn, on the show.

“If you notice in their game, there’s a Seat featured, [and] they needed the sound of the car.

“They helped me rebuild the whole car.”

As the EA SPORTS WRC team explains, there was a significant amount of work required to acquire the necessary audio:

“We connected with Gwyndaf Evans, who still had his old rally car.

“It needed a fair amount of work to get it commissioned for recording. The engine was the only facet that remained intact, as it required a new fuel cell, injectors, gearbox, drivetrain, exhaust, pumps, wiring loom and suspension, among other elements.

“A total of six months of work by the team of engineers at Bill Gwynne Motorsport was carried out.”

Seat Ibiza Kit Car, F2, EA SPORTS WRC.jpg

Seat Ibiza Kit Car, F2, EA SPORTS WRC with its newly recorded engine acoustics

That appears to have been prohibitively expensive, but everything is relative, as it transpires.

“The cost of this rebuild equated to the fee for an on-track recording session, so the team enabled the work,” clarifies Codemasters.

“For the first time, the team was then able to use a working Seat Ibiza Kit Car for recording and include its sound in EA SPORTS WRC.”

Come to think of it, back-to-back, you can notice the difference – the latest WRC title’s recreation has a deeper grumble low down and is softer. Controlled aggression, and closer to the (VHS converted) on-board videos of the real car in action, if lacking the duo having a mid-stage debate.

It has been like a lot of work for an engine note, but not only do sim driving fans get the benefit of a more accurate sound, but there is a dealership in Wales now with a pristine example of rally history...
About author
Thomas Harrison-Lord
A sim racing, motorsport and automotive journalist. Credits include Autosport Magazine, Motorsport.com, RaceDepartment, Overtake, Traxion and TheSixthAxis.

Comments

Maybe someone at EA felt nostalgic:

And that makes me remember the awesome soundtrack and the hyper long stages at night as Chirdonhead with 38km of stage and the mythical Pundershaw of 42km, if you lights were damaged there is no way in hell you would end those stages. If only the game had comparable physics to rbr it would had been the best rally game of all times, the graphics where ground braking at the time.
 
Maybe someone at EA felt nostalgic:

And that makes me remember the awesome soundtrack and the hyper long stages at night as Chirdonhead with 38km of stage and the mythical Pundershaw of 42km, if you lights were damaged there is no way in hell you would end those stages. If only the game had comparable physics to rbr it would had been the best rally game of all times, the graphics where ground braking at the time.
Agreed, I've said before if that game had proper physics it would have been the ultimate rally game. And stronger AI.
 
Complete shame that EA have ruined Rally IMHO, I'm a one-trick pony and only use/buy sim stuff. So, this will be rallying done now for a long time for me. They'll just milk this as they have done F1. WRC'24 will just use almost same tracks if the countries don't change.

To see that they work on sounds seriously, to not care 2 hoots about the importance of the whole physics engine is just a lost opportunity to me. Many people comment in reviews (YouTubers and Steam) that they prefer DR2.0 physics better...
 
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Interesting they went to such lengths! They could have just used a sound-bank of audio from a similar-enough sounding car. Other than absolute enthusiasts, I doubt anyone would have noticed. I mean, there are entire (beloved!) rally games on the market where cars don't even sound like CARS, let alone the correct car, let alone a specific hard-to-come-by museum piece.
I like the enthusiasm of the sound people working on this game, and I like that Codemasters gave them enough leeway to pursue this.
 
Premium
I thought my English was okay, tried understanding the video without reading the subtitles, but I can't understand a word. Is that Welsh?
 
Most of us agree (in negative reviews) that DR2.0 is way better...

Both are the same pivot point based physics like old arcade games with addition of sliding which makes it unnatural. So... Both are the same to me...

I would be more happy if they rework physics instead of just make better sounds, graphics and more stages.

Before u say that it suppose to be arcade game, remember that Forza Horizon is also arcade but it have proper car steering kinematics and more realistic physics overall so...
 
Amazing how far they went in order to provide the final user a proper immersion experience.
 
Both are the same pivot point based physics like old arcade games with addition of sliding which makes it unnatural.

There is no definitive proof of that and every piece of evidence points to that they don't use central pivot points but instead are made so that the back ends of cars slide out very easily. If all the cars used central pivot points, many observable interactions of the cars clearly not having central pivot points wouldn't be able to exist. This is in no way a defence of dr2 or eawrc physics, they're still flawed, but the cars very clearly behave and react in a realistic way but do so at unrealistic speeds.
 
There is no definitive proof of that and every piece of evidence points to that they don't use central pivot points but instead are made so that the back ends of cars slide out very easily. If all the cars used central pivot points, many observable interactions of the cars clearly not having central pivot points wouldn't be able to exist.

Reaction to steering input is very sensitive, car leaving some skidmarks but FFB tells u that u still have full grip and if u look closely u can notice that car turn around it's center point and hovering above ground.
Even if u slide all 4 wheels in AWD car with full throttle, steering reaction is still to sensitive. Like there's full grip.
It simply don't feel like vehicle with 4 supported points.

I guess that center point don't follow 1:1 cars steering and have a bit of lag or "slide" and thats why sometimes it looks completly natural but it doesn't feel like that.

BTW... What's the point of ABS assist in this game if u can't even lockup wheels...
 

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