Race Pro

A racing sim fit for the car-enthusiast?

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  April 21, 2009
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CATEGORY:Games
|-Console
|--Simulation
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overall: 3
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suitable for: home user

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AUTHOR:
Jason Saundalkar

Racing game simulators targeted at hardcore racing enthusiasts have traditionally battled to do well on the Xbox platform. The most successful racing sim that comes to mind is Xbox’s Forza Motorsport, but does Atari’s Race Pro offer a challenge to that gaming icon Forza?

For those who are unfamiliar with Forza, it’s a game that had over 60 top car manufacturers, the ability to tune-up cars, an advanced physics engine and a variety of tracks. Forza received rave reviews and the game was lauded for being a racing sim that had a shallow learning curve, even for those gamers who are not car enthusiasts at heart.

One of the aspects of Forza that ensured its easy game-play was the use of a ‘tracking curve’ - an idea that has been replicated in Race Pro. The way in which the curve works in Race Pro is quite simple. When it is red, it indicates the need to brake; when it is green, it means you can ‘put foot’ and when it is orange, you can lift the foot off the gas a bit. The idea is to follow the curve, and this feature is particularly apparent in the novice and semi-pro modes of the game. The novice and semi-pro modes also include handling and braking assists.

Of course, all these ‘helper features’ act more as a tutor than anything else, and you shouldn’t become overly dependent on them. You might even find that you can ignore the tracking curve after playing the game for a while because it can be ‘overly-cautious’ at times.

But playing without the curve in Race Pro does require a fair level of skill. On a number of occasions the Windows Team had to learn that entering a turn at the correct angle and breaking at the correct moments are what is needed in this game to be able to just make it clear through a lap. The game therefore has good physics with one slight bad turn, or a lapse in concentration when applying the brakes around a medium angled corner, resulting in the car spinning off the track. You learn quickly where and when to brake in certain sections of the track then, but there is an option in the game that allows you to tryout a track before racing it as well.

What makes the game even more challenging is the fact that you cannot cut through a track and take ‘shortcuts’. A warning message continuously warns you to stop “cutting the track” when touching outside the track area on many of the game’s circuits. This can result in a penalty being imposed and you being pushed towards the back of the pack if you do this too often.

The vehicles that players use to navigate these challenging courses range from a wide variety of car makes such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Honda, Peugeot, Mini, Volvo and even a Dodge Viper. The cars range from 200 horsepower to 1000 horse power. Race Pro has thirteen tracks in different country settings from Brazil to Italy and the game also includes a wide range of touring car championships such as the WTCC, F3000 and Formula BMW. Race Pro also includes non-official championships such as R8 Audi, Radical, Koenigsegg and WTCC extreme cars. The game modes even vary from championship, once-off races and time trials.

Race Pro’s career mode is of particular interest, with players progressing through the stages in A, B, C and D series, and as you progress in the game, the choice of cars and tracks increases. You can then also attain credits to help you buy more cars and enter more races. For the car enthusiast, there is also an option in the game to modify cars. There are different modification categories such as brakes, suspension and gears and you can then test out your car once the mods are done.

Race Pro, despite its good game-play, is not impressive when it comes to the graphics department. The courses are boring to look at, but it’s not just the graphics that are poor in this game – the game’s introduction and the game’s navigation menu doesn’t exactly spell ‘excitement’ either.

Also, when you win a race, there isn’t a lot of fanfare. (You end up winning a trophy that looks rather amateurish.) The sense of reward in this game is just completely non-existent. If you enjoy playing racing games such as the Need for Speed series that is filled with glitz and glamour, then Race Pro is definitely not for you. But if you’re a car fanatic, you could find this game a lot of fun.

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