|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SimBin||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Take off the assists completely, and it's a whole new animal; you're charged with handling a wide variety of professional race cars that, absent hours of practice, never seem to respond quite the way you want. Essentially, while the game lacks the immediate, visceral thrill of an arcade racer, it offers easy enough material that arcade fans can make the leap. What's more, it does so without detracting from the controller-smashing difficulty of assist-free racing.
Unfortunately, while RACE Pro has some serious power under the hood, it could have used a nicer paint job. The feature set is standard, even if it's so broad that we can't imagine how long it would take to thoroughly enjoy every part of it: you can run one race, play through a single season, start a career in which you sign contracts to win different races, run time trials, play online against other people, and even take on another player locally (though for some reason, it's a "hot seat" one-person-races-at-a-time competition rather than a traditional split-screen race). While the menus are put together well, there's no pizzazz to them. The teams with which you sign contracts don't even have names; they're just Contract A, B, etc.
The in-game experience, once you lean back from the racing action and take a look around, is just as dull. There's nothing particularly wrong with the graphics (they usually run smoothly, and few items look outright bad), but the visuals just fail to make you feel like you're really there. This is largely due to a lack of detail and polish, but a lack of style also plays into it; it's a half-hearted stab at realism that can't begin to compete with the many near-photorealistic racers on the market. You almost wish one of the bigger studios would buy or license the game's handling formulas so they could be in a more attractive title.
There's a similar no-frills approach to the sound, though the minimalism isn't so bad here. It's better to have decent engine sounds and sparse music than to suffer the overbearing blasts of noise some other racers have (and don't even get us started on that announcer from Burnout 3). The one semi-serious complaint we have is that the leader of your pit crew, who talks to you over the radio every once in a great while, seems downright bored to be at work. The guy sounds so monotone and so detached that either it's intentional, or someone dragged their teenaged younger brother into the studio without paying him.
All told, RACE Pro is a game that unashamedly aims at a niche market: dedicated sim fans who want the most realistic driving experience possible. The game delivers that experience just about perfectly, so it can be said to have accomplished its goal. The next step for SimBin, however, is to come up with a better presentation for its next console game.
CCC Freelance Writer