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Pro Rally 2002 Review
game: Pro Rally 2002
three star
posted by: Matt James
publisher: Ubisoft
date posted: 09:10 AM Thu Nov 28th, 2002
last revision: 05:49 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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Even though I\'m an excellent driver in real life, racing games have evolved past me. The more realistic the games get, the worse I am at them. Granted, I have never driven a race car (I did get my grandmother\'s Cadillac up to a hundred and five mph once), but you would think that a racing game would be easier the more realistic it is. Oh well; I have long since accepted my inadequacies in this department.

When I got Pro Rally I immediately enlisted the help of my roommate, a racing game fanatic. Something interesting happened. We sat down to play, and it wasn\'t long before I was the one winning. My roommate was instantly displeased with the unrealistic physics engine. Not me. I was winning. Furthermore, I was having a blast. That\'s right. I\'m giving this game props for failing where so many games succeed. Sounds silly, I know. But it\'s been a while since I had a really good time playing a racing game.

I can tell you right off the bat, in fact I have been telling you, this is not a game for the hardcore driving simulator fans. Very little about this game speaks to reality. It was a little jarring the first time I hit a street sign and stopped dead in my tracks. I worked five summers for a Traffic department, fixing street signs, and I can tell you that signs don\'t stand up to being hit at seventy miles per hour. Your brakes work in a similar fashion, stopping you on a dime. I only wish my brakes worked so well. For those of us not looking for hyper-realism, the intricacies of Pro Rally\'s physics are easily learned.

It\'s too bad not all of Pro Rally\'s flaws are as endearing. It seems a bit silly that a rally game doesn\'t allow you to move more than a couple of feet off track before resetting you, and this constantly interrupts the flow of the game. Corners that you ought to be able to cut are off limits. Of course, you always reappear on the track a few places behind where you were.

Throughout Pro Rally 2002 you are supplied with a co-driver. He forewarns you of curves and the like, with a nifty British accent. If you are anything like me you ignore the co-driver. That is, until you screw up, at which time it becomes the perfect scapegoat for all your woes. Some people may find it helpful, but I just found it to be annoying. The rest of the sound is equally uninspiring. The engine noise and background noise aren\'t quite up to par. While the music is competent, it could be easily confused with every other generic, techno, videogame soundtrack. On a positive note, it does support Dolby Pro Logic II.

Overall the graphics are just as mediocre, but there are a few nice touches. While driving you can see into your back window and watch your driver at work. It is cool the way your car picks up the mud or snow as you drive through it. On the whole, Pro Rally\'s graphics really can\'t compete with a lot of the driving games out there. Damage is an important part of the game; sadly this isn\'t visually represented on your car. Instead we are given damage icons that pop up on the screen. \"Cough, cough, lame!\" I mean come on. Half the fun of racing is crashing your car.

The Single player game consists of four modes: Time Trial, Arcade, Trophy, and Professional. The Arcade and Trophy modes will need to be unlocked before you can access them. Time Trial is an easy, quick way to get into the game but it offers little challenge other than the clock. The Profession mode is comprised of School and Championship modes.

The School mode must be completed before you can go on to the Championship. There are ten tests, six in a parking lot, and four on actual tracks. This portion of the game can be particularly frustrating. Most of the trials seem to be impossible at first, then just absurd. Mostly you navigate around a series of obstacles; the slightest touch and you will have to restart. You are then graded on your performance based on your time and the amount of damage you take. Had this been an optional mode it might have been fun. Forcing the player to go through it before he or she can get to the real game was a mistake.

Once I got to the Championship mode I started to have a lot of fun, and then the game was over. In less than a couple of hours I had completed the championship mode. It was a little disappointing. It did unlock the Arcade and Trophy modes, but I would\'ve much rather had more Championship tracks to go through.

Arcade mode allows you to race head to head with other cars. In reality, this is more like a pinball game. The opponent cars bounce you around all the way to the finish line. In the Trophy mode you must take first place in each race in order to advance.

The multiplayer has a Versus and a Trophy mode. Versus is pretty straightforward, you and a friend race each other. Trophy mode allows up to eight players to compete in turns. Both are decent but once again, Pro Rally comes up middle of the road.

Pro Rally is the first rally game for the Gamecube. It features twenty officially licensed vehicles and forty eight tracks. The game isn\'t all bad but numerous faults keep this game from being anything more than mediocre. My advice, rent it, beat it, take it back, and wait for the next rally game.