STAFF REVIEW of Pro Race Driver (Xbox)

Wednesday, July 9, 2003.
by BigJosh359

Pro Race Driver Box art Ok, just another racing game, right? No. Pro Race Driver attempts to make racing look and feel real. They also try to make Pro Race Driver more than just a racing game by adding a little drama to keep things interesting. Basically the overall story is that you are Ryan McKane and you?re from a well known racing family trying to distinguish yourself from your brother who is supposedly the best at racing. You mission throughout the game is to try to dethrone your brother. Impressive graphics, semi-real driving simulation, and a RPG like twist make Pro Race Driver distinguish itself from other racing games. But of course, I have to be picky and point out all the problems I have with this game and how frustrating it can be.

Alright, you have story or RPG mode whatever you want to call it, time trials, and multiplayer. RPG you start your quest to become the top McKane. The story itself is mediocre and is basically a Days of Thunder rip off. We have seen these types of movies and TV shows and only few have succeeded with making it work. Incorporating this into a game is a good idea, but seemed to be pointless at times. You join race teams and race to win points and money depending on your contract. The more points you get, the faster you move from division to division till you get to the pro circuit. The more money you make the more the amount goes up but since you never use the money, what's the point of having it? I guess to give you the illusion that you are accomplishing something which is bogus since you are racing for points!

There are no qualifying runs in RPG mode! This gets really frustrating when you are racing for points and you start somewhere in the middle of 20 cars. The contracts you sign you usually have to bet a certain team or your own brother and starting in the middle of the pack sucks. Why does it suck you might ask. Well when you press the gas to go, usually you want to floor the gas right? Wrong, blasting the gas will make you burn rubber for many yards before you actually get grip. So you ease in on the throttle then right? Nice steady acceleration. Well if do that, you will get rear ended from the AI behind you and damage you car. Count on getting rear ended a lot no matter what you do. Braking, OMG!, yet another frustrating feature about the game. Ok, I get that slamming on the brakes locks up your tires, but why is it that when you?re barely braking into a corner that you will suddenly lock your tires and skid straight and miss the turn? I thought this was supposed to be realistic. I can do that in real life, why not in this game? Speaking of skidding, why is that if you get in the grass, you automatically slow down? And why is it that when you wreck in the grass that you get stuck in the grass? I didn?t know grass was that slick to get in to. And if it's not grass you get into, it?s the gravel or the sand pit. Ok I can see getting stuck in those; I see it when I watch NASCAR on a road track. But if you make it to where you get stuck in the gravel or anywhere, why isn't there a reset button? If you get stuck, you lose the race and there is no point in continuing the race because if you don?t get 6th place or higher you get no points and seeing everyone fly by you sucks ass.

The AI is ok, I have seen better, but in RPG mode they do some really stupid stuff sometimes. I hate AI that is so erratic that you don't want to play the game and Pro Race Drivers AI just take off and leave you behind with their jets on. There are a lot of unique and real tracks you race on, a great variety from NASCAR tracks to road way tracks. There are also a ton of name brand cars. You can customize the set up of the cars from the tires to brakes to gear ratio and down force. You can save your settings which is great with the amount of racing you are going to do. I highly suggest people take the time to test drive every track with different setups so you can get a feel for the car and the tracks. But it seemed to me that no matter what setup you have, it just will not work. You are going to slide on every track no matter how hard or easy you drive your car. Get some TUMS for this part of the game, you will get frustrated but you will come back for more. Time Trials are just that, time trials and a chance for you to race as long as you want on the track of your choice. Multiplayer was supposed to have XBL support but doesn?t (boooooo!!!) but you can race against a friend. The best part about this game is all the tracks and cars that are already for you to race when you start the game. There are still some to unlock but you will be surprised at everything you have to choose from at the start. One big problem that irks me about the game is that there is no spotter for you. Your crew chief will help you from time to time, but that?s rare, and with no rear view mirror, it?s even worse to race. All you have is this stupid little red arrow that shows someone is behind you and gets brighter when they get closer. Bah.

Visually, Pro Race Driver is pretty good. The cars look great with real time reflections on the car. I guess this could be one reason for no rearview mirror, to keep the frame rates up. The tracks look great for however good that can look. The crowds are still very 2D cardboard cut outs. The car does take damage and the gfx engine shows a lot of damage on the cars. Some times though it takes some good licks to make the car really damage. Most damage effects are on the body of the car and not the important hardware. Though if you blow a tire; you are in for a long race. Blow 2 or more, just quit the race, no toe truck and no reset and sometimes the tracks are really far away from the pit. It takes a lot to damage these cars so don?t be too cautious when racing. You loser a spoiler or have big time body damage, it doesn't affect the aerodynamics much if any. The pit stops are lame, not much animation at all.

No custom sound tracks, but why would you need it? You get a great mixture of Iggy & The Stooges, Thin Lizzy, Al Green, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others. The cars sound like cars from the engine to tires squealing to crunching metal. I turned the engine sound low though to hear the soundtrack. The crowd cheers are horrible! I don?t know why racing game seem not to have a good crowd cheer or boos. The voice overs for the RPG part of the game are actually pretty good for any game and tends to make the characters seem somewhat real.

Rear View mirror would be a great addition to the game. Maybe some manual pressure adjustments for the gas and brake would help out a lot for better control of the car. Auto braking needs to be an option and not force upon. An original story line would help the RPG aspect of the game out. Maybe make the game more of an RPG with selectable characters that need to earn experience before moving to a higher racing division. What is the point of the money? Make to where if you wreak you car, you have to pay to fix it or make it to where if you ram someone off the road, penalize them. Black Flags and Yellow Flags and make some of the races longer so you can use those flags. Custom soundtracks and Xbox Live!

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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