Yes, it’s yet another in a long, long, LONG series of racing games currently available for the Xbox 360. This time, we’re talking about Race Pro, a game that breathlessly promises to be “the ultimate racing simulation experience”, and I’m sure that is the case on planets where no one has discovered driving, video games, the internal combustion engine or the wheel.
That’s the thrust of the review today, folks–this IS in fact the ultimate racing simulation experience if you’ve either never actually had a racing simulation experience before or you’ve never actually driven anything before.
Basically, the plot of the game, such as it is, is exactly that. You’re going to drive cars. No, this doesn’t exactly have the same literary quality of Ridge Racer’s young up-and-comer looking to burn his way through the ranks of the professional driving circuit, or the various underground racers where you’re out to gather pinks and impress hot chicks who like to wave flags half-naked for little or no conceivable reason. You’re just here to go fast and turn left, except for when, on occasion, you will be called upon to turn RIGHT.
You may be asking yourself at this point, hey, if that’s all I’m supposed to do, then why even bother? I mean, if I wanted to be stuck in traffic for twenty minutes while I tried to drive a car down a twisty, windy track, then why don’t I just jump in my car and actually, you know, go somewhere? At least then everybody on the Internet’ll stop calling me a basement dweller because I haven’t left the house in months.
Sadly, I don’t have much of an answer for that. Oh, sure, with Race Pro you’ll get to try out various different kinds of cars, on various different types of tracks, with various different types of options. I give Race Pro due credit for having an almost OBSCENE number of options–not only can you tweak the difficulty, you can also tweak subclasses of the difficulty as well. For instance, if you’re racing on hard mode and find the AI’s just a little TOO aggressive with the competing drivers, you can actually dial down the racers’ AI difficulty level. It’s an absolutely customizable racing experience.
Absolutely customizable, yes…but worthwhile? That’s where I’m going to have to say no. I had SERIOUS problems with the controls on this one–even something that should be video-game simple, the drift maneuver, I couldn’t manage to pull off. In fact, driving the Mini Cooper in the first level felt exactly like the headline described, like driving a brick through wet cement. I remember trying to pull off a turn, so naturally, I decelerate so I can jam on the gas after I’ve started to pitch my nose a bit. The car promptly decides that it prefers going straight, and thusly goes COMPLETELY OFF THE TRACK and into the dirt. The game then warns me that I’m “cutting track”, to which I respond with a torrent of obscenities detailing the fact that, one, I already KNOW I’m off the track and, two, that I wouldn’t have been if the game had done what it was told to do in the first place.
This is, of course, profoundly irritating, but there’s probably a workaround if you’re desperate enough for a new racing game to try. I personally say that there are better racing games out there–vastly better, in fact–but if you want a driving sim that’ll give you a huge fight, then Race Pro is the game you want.