reviews\ Nov 17, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Pro Rally - GC - Review

The Subaru Impreza drives through the twists and turns of the hilly Spanish course, using controlled slides to whip the rear end around before stomping on the gas.

This is no time for sightseeing because the race leader is only two seconds ahead. Any miscue could spell the difference between success and failure.

Pro Rally, a GameCube release from Ubi Soft, has all the slippery terrain, solid environments and top cars associated with rally games. The driving dynamics are a bit unrealistic at times and the game double-clutches when it comes to game options, but this still manages to be a decent racing game full of challenge.

Problems first occurred when launching the single player game. Only two types of races were available for play ­ Time Trials and Professional (which is the school courses that challenge and you must qualify on to advance). The game does also have Arcade and Trophy modes, but neither was available to play. In multiplayer, which is the standard head-to-head competition, Player 1 could be named, but all attempts to create another driver for Player 2 resulted in seemingly locking up the system. The only way for the game to progress was by moving into the race with one player driving as the created driver and the second going under the label of Player 2. Also, multiplayer sported two game types, Versus and Trophy, but only the versus option was available.

There was no explanation as to why the other game modes were grayed out, or what it would take to enable them.

What the game does offer is 48 tracks around the world and 20 officially licensed vehicles. The tracks offer a variety of weather conditions and terrain, while the cars all have a different feel.

The controls also seem to differ from the standards used in other racing games, and may take 10 minutes or so to get really comfortable with. Players can use either the control stick or d-pad to steer the car while the R button controls acceleration and the L button is the brakes/reverse trigger. The A button is for the handbrake while the X and B buttons shift up and down respectively. You can change your view with the Y button.

The game sounds are rather typical of the genre.

Once you deal with all the vagaries of this game, and actually get into a race, you will be treated to a high-speed romp through narrow, winding courses. Your co-driver, who acts as a map reader, will shout out upcoming corners and turns, while an arrow on screen will confirm that you are indeed coming up to a hairpin corner. Also wandering too far off the track, which by accident or intentionally, will result in your car being put aright on the course with a wee bit of time eaten off the clock.

Of course, this wasn’t always consistent. You could crash through a barrier and get the off-course notification and be put back on the track in one race, but in the next you are allowed to try to steer back to the track in the same situation.

Pro Rally has some solid racing action, but also has some hurdles to overcome. Racing fans will doubtlessly like certain aspects of this program, but it can be frustrating as well.

This game is rated for Everyone


Gameplay: 7.3
Some of the car dynamics are more arcade-like that real, but the game does move seamlessly through the twists and turns of each course.

Graphics: 8
The animation is excellent, and the environments are very well done. However, unlike some PC titles, even if you tailgate across mud, your view is never obstructed. Adding an element like that may have made for a more realistic and exciting experience.

Sound: 7
Nothing offered in this game really differs from other rally race games.

Difficulty: Medium
The school element, which launches the career mode, is quite challenging. This is not a cerebral challenge, but rather a reflexive one that demands solid control over the vehicle and a fearless attitude.

Concept: 8
The options package, which enables players to tinker with car setup, is nice and simple. The player interface may be a little tougher to work through in multiplayer, but the game is set up so that anyone can jump right in and race.

Multiplayer: 7
Two players can go head-to-head on the courses with a split screen view for each player. All that equals multiplayer action that is standard.

Overall: 7.1
This is a solid racing game that does have sport challenge. The courses are well designed and the racing action is very good. While the game could have been much better in terms of explaining why some modes were not initially available upon game startup. Multiplayer competition also was a problem in that one player could be named, but not the second, even though a second driver had been created and saved. The game seems to have some stumbling blocks, which detract from the racing aspects ­ the latter which are reasonably well done.


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