Pro Rally


posted 12/4/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: GC
Rally games have seen a slight upshot in quality in the recent years. Franchises like Colin McRae and Rallisport Challenge have done an admirable job of filling the void left by quality titles like SEGA Rally. With the market becoming more and more competitive it’ll take something truly special to make an impact at retail. What does Ubi Soft’s Pro Rally do to differentiate itself from the others? With the exception of being the first rally game for the Nintendo GameCube, not much.

This game annoys right from the start, instead of allowing you to dive right into the game’s core mode, you’ll be forced to complete a set of trial-like tasks first. Titled ‘school’ these play out much like the license tests of Gran Turismo. You’ll be given a track and a set time to accomplish it in. If you knock over any of the cones you immediately fail. Sounds good right? Well not really. One, they’re so atrocious that they really don’t teach you anything. Two, they’re dull and not entertaining. Three, you’ll have to complete 10 of them before you can actually get into the game itself. To make matters worse the handling is so unrealistic and iffy that it makes the tasks even harder than they should be. So not only is the game wasting your time by not letting you play the core mode, but it’s frustrating the hell out of you as well. In the end the ‘school’ is a glorified tutorial that really proves to be a huge waste of time. What’s more annoying is that the game includes an Arcade and trophy mode as well but they too have to be unlocked. I understand the need to unlock new content like cars and tracks but why standard gameplay mode?

When you finally do get past the annoying tutorial you’ll find that the game actually isn’t all that bad. Just like in real life you head at it alone in a race against your opponents’ times. As a pick up and play rally game, it’s quite entertaining. Its simplicity makes it accessible to nearly anyone who can hold a controller in their hands. Most of the physics are quite forgiving as they are a compromise between the arcade and simulation side of things. However, if you’ve ever player another rally game you’ll probably soon find yourself being turned off by this one.

The control just doesn’t quite feel right. It always feels as if you’re driving on ice as opposed to dirt, asphalt or mud. Even when driving on paved roads the rear end has a huge tendency to drift out at the slightest touch of the steering wheel. Even odder is that the tires seem to recover from the drift far too easily. While I’m trying to drift to a turn the tires will usually cling to the road and force me to perform another drift if I want to continue through the turn. What’s supposed to happen is that my car is supposed to drift through the entire duration of a turn but that’s just not what happens here. I guess it’s a compromise but it just never does feel right.
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