Review by Darth Rustito
Reviewed: 05/02/03 | Updated: 05/02/03
Step into the egotistical shoes of Ryan McKane.
When I first read about Pro Race Driver so long ago, I was extremely excited. Just the screenshots of the cars were enough to make me nearly require a change of pants, but characters too? And they called it a CarPG, of all things. Needless to say, I was almost bouncing off the walls. Finally, sometime last month, I got the game, the game I'd been waiting so long for.
And I can't believe I've waited this long to write a review.
Does the game deliver? Oh yes, come with me to the land of, uh, virtual car racing, or something, and I'll tell you about this excellent game. Let's start with what is undoubtedly the most important factor in any video game...
GAMEPLAY - 9/10
Let's look at the AI first off -- It's aggresive, plain and simple, and alot of fun to race against, at that. Cars will bump you when you bump them (getting revenge, at times), put you in the wall or even off the track into the grass (blast you, Helena Andersen!), and at times, opposing drivers will even cast at you a verbal insult that old Ryan McKane can somehow hear over the roar of the engines. Despite the miniscule numbers of cars on the track whenever you're racing, the AI still manages to be great to race against. The same thing can be said for driving -- You'll probably have a great deal of fun just driving out in testing. The cars are all good fun to drive, however slippery or overly-powerful some may seem at first. The only thing that undermines the score is, as said, the small number of cars on the track when you race. I'm not sure if Codemasters just rushed the game or couldn't get the PlayStation 2 to SOMEHOW not be able to handle more cars on the track at one time, but this is supposed to be professional racing. You don't see TOCA or other professional racing series with only eight cars racing. More cars on the track gives racing more depth, as another reviewer said, I think. Anyway, the small number of cars racing isn't enough to destroy the gameplay, which is still fantastic.
GRAPHICS - 9/10
They're great, quite frankly. Car models are amazing, especially the damage system. Your car will literally come apart at the seams if you drive badly enough and throw the poor thing into wall after wall. Not only that, but if you take a hard enough hit, say goodbye to your windshield, your back windshield, and your windows. This'll definitely slow you down a bit. You can't help but admire Ryan somewhat for taking that wind being pushed into the car as you go over a hundred miles an hour without a windshield. As for tracks, all of them look great, and nicely represent their real-life counterparts. Sadly, though, the cutscenes look like someone threw a J-Bomb (J for Jaggy) on them. They're not great, but they don't take away from gameplay, so the score only goes down by one.
AUDIO - 10/10
Pro Race Driver has the best audio I've ever heard in a racing game. In other racing games, when you top out the engine and you're away from other drivers, you'll probably start to notice the repetitiveness the engine sound bit makes (for example, ooooooOOoooooooOOoooooooOOoooo. See? Annoying, isn't it?). This problem is nearly extinguished in Pro Race Driver, though it's still very slightly noticable. All the cars seem to have their appropriate engine sounds, and are nearly breath-taking just to listen to for the first time.
CONTROLS - 8.5/10
The controls are good, I'll give them that. Undoubtedly the most glaring problem of the controls is how hard you may end up pushing the X button. They made it so you have to push it a little TOO hard to get maximum gassage (or something), so after a while, I garauntee your thumb will begin aching, even if only a little. The cars seem to handle like they should, too, but at times, you may feel like the car just doesn't seem right. Even tuning it up might not remedy this. Even still, though, after you get the hang of the controls, they only make the game more fun.
REPLAYABILITY - 10/10
When you're done with Career mode, you'll more than likely keep coming back to Free Races for the heck of it. Set up custom races (1 to 60 laps in most cases, it seems), one-on-one races, etcetera. Good fun. And when I say you're done with Career mode, you are, most likely. Perhaps you won't like Ryan's attitude (he's got a terrible ego problem), or perhaps you don't like replaying through such things twice. After all, you've unlocked everything when you complete the Career mode, so... Yeah, you get the point.
TO BUY OR RENT - N/A
It depends, really. If you're into touring car racing, buy the game immediately, though you might want to grab the Xbox version since it apparently looks better and has more cars on the track at one time. If you only like NASCAR or something, while the game has those, they don't have NASCAR decals or anything like that. You should probably just rent it first, but if you're excited about the game, it can't hurt to just buy it. I was skeptical myself at first when I bought it, pondering if I'd made the right decision. I sure did.
OVERALL SCORE - 9/10
Pro Race Driver is definitely one of the best racing games I've ever played, if not THE best. I can only hope and pray that there'll be a sequel, too. Play the game. Now. See you on the winner's podium.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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