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.
Being that this is a rally game, the tracks exhibit the usual characteristics that you’d expect. That means that you’ll travel over mud, ice, asphalt and all of the usual terrains. The tracks are pretty well designed but in the end, they tend to become repetitive and mesh into one another. There are a number of licensed vehicles included in the game as well such as the Peugot 206 that is featured on the game’s cover. The rest of the roster features rally mainstays such as the Toyota Corolla and the Mitsubishi Lancer. As a fan of Rally racing I was disappointed to find that Ford and Honda were missing from the roster.
In the graphics department the game is pretty capable of holding its own. Because it is a PS2 port the visuals are a bit below par from what we might expect from a GC game. The cars are well designed and are quite nice to look at but that’s the extent of this game’s beauty. Roadside objects and scattered foliage doesn’t look too appealing and the lack of progressive scan support won’t win over much of the technologically advanced crowd. In short don’t come here expecting graphics that will blow you out of the water because it’s just not going to happen. Rallisport Challenge this ain’t.
Pro Rally’s audio elements are very generic. Racing is accompanied by a very generic techno soundtrack as opposed to licensed music. The sounds of racing are very generic, it’s all standard fare here. Everything sounds interchangeable and although the game supports Dolby Pro Logic II, it doesn’t make much of a difference in the end.
Multiplayer is also a very generic experience. Up to two players can go up to it simultaneously in a head-to-head race. If you’ve ever played a racing game with just another person you’ll know exactly how boring this is. For the competitive minded up to 8 people can swap turns on a track and compete for the best time. I guess it’s sort of like a competition mode but in the end, it’s just another small diversion that isn’t really too entertaining.
Unless you’re a GameCube owner who is in desperate need for a Rally fix, I recommend you pass this one up. While the game has a few things going for it, it turns out to be just another generic racing game. The execution is flawed and in the end, you have a very confused game that doesn’t really know what it wants to be.
Ubi Soft dishes out a rally game that is full of potential but fails to execute. A sub-par racing title that is marred by numerous design choices.
Rating: 5.8 Flawed
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile