Pro Race Driver


posted 4/9/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
I’m a huge fan of racing games so you can probably sense my anticipation for Codemasters’ latest racing title. Being billed as a “Car-PG” the designers infused a heavy dose of story into the game formerly known as TOCA Racing and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. Simply put, Pro Race Driver will change the way we look and think about racing games in the future. Not that PRD should be seen as a revolutionary step for the genre but rather an evolutionary step that could pave the way for greater things to come.

I find it quite surreal to be discussing the storyline of a racing game in my review. As most racing fans know, storylines aren’t exactly the signature element of a good racing game, but then again it appears that Codemasters is looking to change that notion. While the storyline isn’t exactly the most compelling or entertaining one to have ever hit the gaming scene, it does an admirable job of giving the game a sense of purpose. Instead of randomly competing in races with the sole purpose of gaining upgrades, you feel that you hit the tracks for a reason. In this respect the game is a step ahead of the competition.

The game’s core career mode casts you into the role of Ryan McKane as he tries to follow in the footsteps of his deceased father and pro racing elder brother. The game essentially plays like your normal racing career mode. You’ll compete in a series of races for points, the higher you place the more points you’ll earn. As you progress you’ll unlock new racing series’ which will open up more tracks and cars for you to play around with. There’s a twist though, in between races, and sometimes before the races, you’ll be treated to cutscenes that give the game purpose. Whether it is the introduction of an old pro or new rival, the cut scenes give the game much more purpose than your usual garden-variety racer.

In addition to career mode, additional free race style modes and an excellent online mode flesh out the game. The free time mode is essentially all of the game’s exhibition modes. Here you will be able to compete in an arcade-like race mode that allows you to choose the car and track of your choosing. Of course there are the time trial-like modes and the very neat online feature. Many of the components are locked from the start and must be unlocked via the career mode. I’ve often been opposed to this tactic of extending gameplay life but since there is a great deal of content unlocked from the start I feel it works well here.

Of course the main attraction here is racing and when you hit the tarmac you’ll feel right at home. While some of the controls and the physics are a little shaky, they’re solid enough to provide one of the best racing experiences available. When combined with a force feedback wheel, there’s a real sense of fluidness and reality in the controls that just leaps above the competition. You’ll just simply love racing around each of the game’s tracks because the game has a great sense of control. Sliding around turns only to lose your grip and then regain control as you’re inches away from a concrete barricade really provides you with a rush. It assures you that each and every trip out to the racetrack is an exhilarating experience that you won’t soon forget.

There are a wide variety of licensed cars and tracks for you to shred up and much like the storyline, each of them bring something new to the table. From the long straight-aways of the Mexico raceway to the tumultuous curves of the Vancouver you’re in for a new and unique experience every time you hit the track. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock newer tracks which will really test your driving mettle. Never once did I find myself being bored by the game’s track selection, mainly because the designers did a great job of shaking things up from time-to-time.
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