Back in 2005 a studio in Vera, Sweden popped up by the name of Simbin. Simbin’s goal was to bring a fresh new and exciting racing simulator to consoles and PC, so they started working on GTR- Fia GT racing. GTR was supposed to be put out on PC via Atari and Xbox 360 via THQ, Atari held their end of the deal and the PC version got shipped. THQ, on the other hand, backed out and the 360 version didn’t come to fruition. Now fast-forward to 2009, Simbin’s racing sims have been held to the highest standard by gear heads around the globe, yet there has never been a console version. Well gear heads rejoice because Simbin’s Race Pro is upon us and boy does it ever cater to the hardcore.
Race Pro is broken down into three main modes: career, championship and online. In career mode you play as a driver for hire, and with each race and different car classes tackled you become more and more known, creating tryouts with teams competing with better and faster cars. Career mode is not only fun, but a necessity if you want to unlock all the cars the game has to offer. In championship you pick a racing team in any league and race with them for an entire season. Championship is best to be played after career mode is completed so there are no restrictions when choosing teams and leagues. Here comes the games first flaw: online. Online is pretty basic and doesn’t go deeper than just racing against other people. Now it may be just the ‘Call of Duty Syndrome’ that has infected me but if an online mode doesn’t have any replay value other than playing against human beings it might as well be left out. With it being left out the half assed energy could be put to better use on an offline component to the game.
One of the game’s greatest strengths are the officially licensed tracks, they’re just brilliant! One of the things I noticed right off the bat is that there are no oval tracks! I thought that it was just lovely that they were left out. I mean come on going around elliptic curves is just annoying and lame. Oval tracks aside the variety of the tracks are quite delightful; from a speedway atmosphere (Brands Hatch) to a European urban atmosphere (Porto). The only fault with the tracks is that there are not enough of them!
Cars, obviously that’s the meat and potatoes of a race game and this is something Race Pro is lacking. There are only 48 cars in total, 48! The last sim game I owned which was Grand Turismo 2 had over 200 and that was a PSX game for goodness sakes, not a current gen system. Bitching aside the cars they provide you with are great and I haven’t gotten bored of them yet. The cars vary from a BMW mini to a Spyker spyder.
The lack of cars leads me to another fault: the lack of tuning. Now when I say lack of tuning I’m talking changing different automotive parts from your car. I say this because the game has one of the best tuning systems when it comes to what is in your car already, but I’ll get to that in a second. I remember way back in the PSX days I could change parts in my car, and even today as well with games like Forza, but it’s just completely lacking in this game and definitely makes it less enjoyable. Now coming back to the specific tuning part, it is just ridiculous how in depth it goes. You definitely have to be a gear head to wrap yourself around it, and this is not a fault because regular gamers can have fun with this title as well and don’t have to worry about it, but this game rewards the gear heads big time for their knowledge in the field.
Now to what seems to be the biggest concern of gamers today: graphics. The graphics in Race Pro aren’t the prettiest on the block but don’t let that steer you away. The strongest part of the graphics are the lighting, it just adds a lot to the first person view of driving (who doesn’t drive in first person view?). For example: say the sun is shining on one part of the track more than others, you’re going to notice it, and the logo on the steering wheel will be more visible, as well as the dashboard. To me it just adds more realism to the game and gives you that “I’m in the cockpit” feel. The race track environments are overall well done but don’t feel alive at all. For example: you stare up into the sky and it doesn’t change at all. It’s clearly just a still back drop and in turn takes away some realism for me. Okay, now the part of the graphics that makes it clearly average in today’s generation, textures. The textures in this game at times are horrendous and show no polish at all. Now this doesn’t turn me off from the game as I’m a gameplay guy but it’s clearly a fault and gets no praise for it.
The sound in this game is great. Now if it wasn’t for the 360’s custom tracks it would be more 50/50 because this game is lacking in any music aside from the track that plays on the menu screen, but thanks to Microsoft it has the (insert tack here) vibe going on so it caters to all genres. Now the gameplay sounds are great, you feel as if you are actually there. Everything from the rumble of the engine to the screeching of the tires all sound right.
Race Pro is defintley one of those games where they do somethings excellent and somethings wrong and turns out to be a decent game. Gear heads I strongly recommend you check out this title as well as fans of the racing genre, but if cash is something you don’t have to throw around definitely stick to Forza 2 for the time being. Because of a small car line up, lack luster online, no changeable parts and decent graphics Race Pro earns a B.