Racing games has always been focused more on the actual racing rather than the management/simulation aspects of the genre. This is where Pro Race Driver comes in to play. Instead of fully concentrating on just the racing, the spotlight is now turned over to the drivers themselves, and surprisingly Codemasters has once again taken a new idea and combined it with great gameplay, to create yet another solid racing title for your Xbox.
Unlike most games where you go into the game selection screen, and then onto the career mode to be given a run down on the story, Pro Race Driver wastes no time to get you right in the midst of the storyline. You are Ryan McKane, and at the beginning of the cut scene you witness where Ryan gets his start in racing. During a normal race on the track, Ryan’s father, one of the best in the sport, is tragically killed in a major collision after his father had just won the race. And so the game begins with you starting your career in the racing profession.
Before I am even discussing the rest of the game I wanted to commend Codemasters for going out and doing something new with a racer, and making it different from the rest. The game really revolves around the career mode, with only a few other modes to choose from (Free Race, Time Trial, and Multiplayer) and those are just basic modes anyways.
The career mode is actually quite elaborate and I am still not 100% sure on the score of the career mode goes, but here is a little run down of how it works. Basically you race in six races per season, divided up in sections of the globe. What it all comes down to is winning points (by placing in a race) and then coming out on top with the most at the end of the season. If you get this completed then you get to go one on one with a real pro race driver, and if you can beat him in a race, then you are now a proud owner of his vehicle.
But that’s not all the goes on in the career mode, no sir. You also will be getting sponsorship offers where you will have to show them your stuff by either auditioning or racing in one of their Championships. The career mode overall in some cases (tracks) feels sort of limited, but as a whole the Career Mode is one that will not only last you a while, but it will also be quite interesting as well. The cut scenes stay persistent throughout, filling you in with exactly what is going on.
The racing itself is pretty solid. One of the interesting things Codemasters did in this one was they decided to take less emphasis on which car to use for certain tracks, but instead to putting emphasis on customizing your vehicle to do what it will need to do, to win the race. This requires not only patience, but also some trial and error until you find the right stuff.
One thing that Pro Race Driver does is that it can make you feel like you’re an awful driver. Whenever you crash, a diagram pops up and shows where the damage was made, and after maybe one or two collisions with the wall your car won’t be running very well. What that basically boils down to is that this is a simulation game, and a good one at that. The controls are tight but not to tight like where you feel like you are going to spin out every five seconds. Some of the tracks are 3 laps and some are longer. This means you may have to make a pit stop, and let me tell you the first few times I enjoyed the little cut scene, showing you what was going on, but after a while I just wanted to get back to the racing.
The one thing that really holds Pro Racer Driver back is how the game works. Like I mentioned earlier they could have made it a lot clearer and more to the point. Instead you will find yourself either confused or discouraged because of losing.
If you have read any of my reviews I always like to hear the games in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and Codemasters has come through with it again. The sound effects of Pro Race Driver and splendid and are great to listen to for a while, but there is something missing. Oh, that’s right Music! Well don’t plan on listening to any while playing Pro Race Driver because not only does the game not come with music, Codemasters left out the ability to throw in custom soundtracks.
All I can say is, Wow! The Xbox has seen some pretty clean looking racing titles (Rally Sport Challenge, Project Gothem, and Colin McRae Rally 3) but Pro Race Driver gives them all a run for their money. This may be one of the best-looking race titles of all time. The cars are probably the most noticeable achievements of the game, because of how detailed they really are. Codemasters went for detail, and it came out beautifully. There are so many great things to talk about but I cannot stress enough how gorgeous the car models really are.
Not only do the cars look great when they start, but they are also not too shabby when you crash them either. The damage system of the game is magnificent. If you damage the rear bumper, then you are going to see damage there. It is really a great thing to experience. The tracks are also top notch with excellent details, and lighting effects, they are just great to look at.
This is a racing simulation game, so it is hard to say if it is really fun. So basically it all comes down to your taste. If you like arcade style racers, then you are going to probably despise Pro Race Driver, but fans of Simulation Racers are going to have a ball with this one. The game does a nice job of putting the driver in the spotlight, but there are still plenty of improvements that need to be made in order for it to completely work. The driving itself is right on the money, and if you figure out what you’re doing in the career mode you will be playing that one for a long time, because the competition becomes quite fierce further along in the game.
After already being released on both the PS2 and PC, there have been quite a few improvements to this Xbox port. The graphics are probably the most noticeable, but overall the career modes structure really kept me back from giving the game a higher rating. If you are looking for a racer for your Xbox you should definitely consider Pro Race Driver.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.