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Race Pro (Xbox 360) review...

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  • Race Pro (Xbox 360) review...

    Race Pro Review

    By: Chuck ďMagnumĒ Ankenbauer


    Simbin has been well known in the PC motorsport simulation arena for a long time, with a number of great racing games under its belt. So, naturally when I heard that the same company was working on a racing simulation game for the Xbox 360, I was a little more then happy, ecstatic might be the better word.

    The game was suppose to be released late 2008 but was delayed, (as most games are). Then everyone seemed to stop talking about it. I was beginning to believe it turned too vaporware or scrapped due to budget cuts. Then one day in late January, I stumbled upon a news post, ďRace Pro has gone goldĒ. Two weeks later, with little fan fair it was in stores. I quickly picked up my copy at the local GameStop headed home and booted up the Xbox 360.


    Within the game case is the game DVD of course, and a very basic 17 page manual, Typical for games these days. The manual covers the controls, connecting to Xbox Live, and then covers the nine different segments of the game based on the main menu.


    ďThere is nothing closer to the real thing than RACE Pro. RACE Pro is all about replicating the thrill and realism of racing in todays world, delivering its fantastic gaming experience with amazing Physics and handling. You will be immersed into Exclusive official championships and famous licensed tracks! Race Pro has the widest variety of ultra realistic cars from production to racing cars also its has an extensive online multi-player feature.Ē Atari UK.

    Racing Realism
    Ultra realistic handling
    Accurate physics engine
    Speed sensation
    Weather conditions
    High precision car settings
    Racing Immersion: Exclusive FIA Championships
    WTCC: 2nd most important official FIA championship after F1
    Formula 3000: the superfast car formula
    Formula BMW: BMW's training ground for up & coming F1 drivers
    Mini Cooper Challenge: fun and accessible
    13 official FIA tracks including:
    3 Exclusive CITY tracks: Macau, Porto, Pau
    2 US tracks: Laguna Seca & Road America
    Other non official championships include R8 Audi, Radical, Koenigsegg,WTCC extreme cars
    Widest Variety of Ultra Realistic Cars
    350 models out of 48 cars from 200 to over 1000 HP
    From Mini to WTCC extreme cars
    World Champion '05, '06, '07 Andy Priaulx 's BMW 320 Si
    AM LM DBR9 2nd at Le Mans 2008 in GT1 category
    *from the press release and web site released information


    Like mentioned in the press release, you get 13 tracks right out of the box. The tracks are truly different, and require different skills and different touches when driving each type of car on them. They are all unlocked, so you can pick which one you choose to test drive first. Some are small and tight, while others let you open up the throttle a little, or a lot. Each track can be played in bright sunny skies, or you can turn on bad weather, grey clouds and rain on each.

    The tracks do look good, and play good but they are light on the bonus scenery, you get fans and emergency workers, and flagmen standing around, but they are limited. But each track serves the over all purpose of giving you a great racing simulation on the Xbox 360. There are some graphical issues, but nothing major. Pop-ins for example, especially with the shadows from treeís or poleís onto the track. And there is also a lot of flickering on distant objects. These do take away from the games looks, as compared to other racing games but should not interfere much with the racing aspect of the game.


    The game description claims 350 different cars for the game, well thatís factually true but for the most part they are just copies of cars with different model parts or with different paint/color designs. You still get a good healthy number of cars, everything from the Mini-Cooperís to Formula Racers.

    Donít think your going to get this game, and jump in and start driving any of these 350 cars. You have a very limited section of cars to drive, and only on certain tracks. You have to play the single player career, and unlock all the cars. I can understand this to a point, say to reward you for doing the single player career, but I do think this is total BS when it comes to open testing or online racing. If I didnít want to do any single player action with this game, then I should not be penalized in free/test drive or especially multiplayer. Some of us bought Race Pro for one purpose only, and that is to get online via Xbox Live and race other humans.

    The cars are nicely done, and each feels completely different to drive like it should be. But their not perfect, If you really look close you can see the cars all fit a certain design box or shape, and the paint/exterior features thou good are not great, not next gen. The cockpit views are fantastic in my opinion. Some cars have the roll bars, along with the safety net and features; some are open and clear, while some feel tight and cramped. You get a good sense of each type of car as you sit in the cockpit. When driving from cockpit view youíll feel the G forces pushing on your body, what I mean by this is that if youíre sitting in a Formula race car and you drop the hammer, the view will slightly move you back, giving you that feeling of being pushed into the race seat. If you brake hard, youíll slide forward in view, giving you that sense of deceleration. Driving in cockpit view is fantastic, and the only way to fully enjoy this game, once you learn the track of course. Oh, and by the way, if itís raining you have windshield wipers clearing your view, somewhat.


    You have typical options to select what you see on the HUD, (track layout, position, lap, gear and speed), the all important sound settings incase you have a need to make the tire squeal a little higher then the roar of the engine for the ease of learning to brake properly, you have the controller options where you can adjust the feedback, the sensitivity, and other settings, this is for both the gamepad and the force feedback driving wheel. The settings and adjustments for your controller is some of the best Iíve ever seen in a console racing game.

    You have three sets of difficulty, and each of those can be slight customized. You can pick novice which has all the aids on by default, easy AI, and automatic transmissions. Or you can adjust those to take off aids, or make it a manual, but still keep the AI easy. You also have semi-pro, and professional. Again, both can be customized within limits.

    I have found that there is too big of a difference between semi-pro and professional, mostly in the AI department. I capture the pole position every time in semi-pro, and I win by about a quarter of a track against the AI in semi-pro all the time, but if I move it up to professional I come in last on qualification, and last on all races all the time. This is even when I select semi-pro or professional, but adjust the aids and gears. No matter what, I win easy in semi-pro, and lose big in professional.

    Single Player:

    Single player consist of quite a few different modes, all accessed from the main menu. You can have open practice where you pick the track and the car you want to drive, as long as youíve unlocked it in career mode, then drive around till your heartís content. You also have time attack where you can take a vehicle on a track and try and beat not only your own ghost time, but other racers logged via Xbox Live. Then you have the career mode, which starts you out as a rookie. The first thing you have to do is take one of the Mini Coopers out on a track and drive till youíve meet the contract time limit. When you succeed you are offered a race contract that is usually three races long. (4 then 5 in later races). Your contract tells you that you have to win a medal on every race to complete your contract, only then can you go up to the next class of cars, and do another try out for the new class, and new contract. As you continue to complete races and contracts you gain money, and unlocked vehicles. Repeat.

    And finally in the single player department, you have a championship run. You pick one class of vehicle; say for instance the F3000 Formula series. You have a list of races to perform in, finish in the top eight to receive points, the one with the most points after all races wins. Unfortunately, you can only have one championship going at a time, so youíll have to finish the one your on before starting a new one, otherwise youíll lose the old championship season.

    One of the great things about Race Pro is that you actually qualify for pole position, if you want, it can be turned off in the options. Unfortunately itís not the usual 2 lap qualification run, but a hot lap from the start.

    (By the way, for you achievement hogs out their, you want to qualify and win a race in all three difficulties. Itís not like a shooter where if you win in advance modes, all three difficulty achievements are rewarded, you have to get each one.)

    The single player AI, in my opinion, is a huge weak point of the game. I have never played a racer, arcade or sim, where the AI was so over aggressive, and just plain dirty. Now Iím no expert on racing or racer games, but Iím pretty sure in real life car owners donít like their drivers to go out with their quarter of a million dollar race car and play bumper cars with other cars/drivers. Iím pretty sure, you as a driver, would lose that ride pretty damn quick.

    The AI is terrible, they bump into your rear when braking for a turn, they cut you off your line, they cut through the track and donít seem to get penalized, but if I do it, Iím warned then disqualified in a heart beat. When starting the race they jump into your race line without any thought of the damage being done to their own cars.

    Speaking of damage, it is modeled, if you hit the wall you will see and feel damage with the race car but the game is very forgiving, and the damage feel to the car is minimal, a slight pull to the left or right. I have purposely tried to blow my engine, hit the wall hard repeatedly and like the energizer bunny the car still goes, slow and wildly, but it goes. I think if you hit a wall at such force or drive at 10k RPM, well past red line, then you should be out of the race.


    Multiplayer is the bread and butter of most, if not all, racing games. Without it, the racing against AI get old fast. Race Pro claims to support up to 12 players via Xbox Live, but everyone I know has reported that they can not host more then 8 players without a hard lock up on their Xbox. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed and fixed ASAP.

    Multiplayer is where Xbox 360 games shine. Race Pro is a great multiplayer game. Iíve had at least 40 games so far and all of them have been a blast. In Race Pro, the host sets up a game, gets going on his practice laps, then invites friends, (or if a open server players just join), everyone just does practice laps as long as they want, and since Race Pro (and all Xbox 360 games) have built in comms, you simply say when youíre ready to move on. The host then moves to the next session, which is usually qualification via a hot lap, (again you donít have to qualify, and the host can turn it off.) After the hot lap qualifications the host moves to the next session, all players are put on the grid and the green flag drops. Online you can set it for a 1 lap race, up to 75 laps.

    Now like I said, multiplayer is a blast, especially with friends. But with Race Pro, another weakness, presentation. The presentation of the game is ridiculous. How hard would it of been for them to try out other racing games on the Xbox 360, just to get an idea on how to present the game to the player. For one, almost every car is locked and has to be unlocked in the single player career to drive it in a single player race or online. I disagree with locked content for a simulation. I should be able to buy this game, go online and race any track with any car the game offers. I should never have to do a single player race or career. I should be able to practice on any track with any car. This is a simulation type game not a CRPG where I need to progress in rank to wear that +3 gold plated armor with a +20 percent defense to fire damage. What if Black Shark required us to fly the first 1/3 of the missions with guns only, and then we unlocked rockets, then eventually missiles. Unlocking in a simulation type game is stupid. (Remember, reviews are based on one personís opinion.)

    But thatís not the worst of it for Race Pro. If I host a multiplayer race, I select the settings and the track. I then go to the car selection and find that I am unable to race this series, so I have to completely exit from the server I just made, and repeat till I find one that Iím allowed to race in. Wait folks, it ain't over yet. So then Iím on my practice laps. I have to wait till Iím in control on the practice lap, pull over and park then open up my invite screen and invite all my friends. I then go back to my practice laps while my friends join. They join; they pick their vehicle, the get on track and start their practice laps. Then all of a sudden one of them says, ďI canít pick a car, their all lockedĒ. So we all have to exit, and repeat. Just plain ridiculous and way too time consuming.

    What, do you think Iím done yet? OK, say we all get a good race in; the race is over Mr. Magnum wins again even thou Positive G tried to take him out on more then one occasion. We want a new class of cars and a new track. Well the host can pick a new track but you are stuck with the same car. The only way to move to race a new class of cars is for the host to shut down the server, set it back up and repeat the above, inviting everyone again, and hoping everyone is able to get the correct car. Ridiculous.


    So what Iím basically saying here folks. The driving, the racing, the tracks and the cars are all great with Race Pro. You really feel like youíre on the track, you really feel like youíre in a race car. Example: If youíre taking one of the formula cars out for a spin and you brake hard for a turn, your virtual body sensation moves forward in the vehicle. When you hit the accelerate you feel the body pushed back into the seat, and almost feel the g forces working on your body. The handling, acceleration, and braking is incredible and each different for each car. You have multi-views including the cockpit view which is really incredible in some cars, youíll see the metal pipes and roll bars, youíll see the suspension safety nets, working mirrors, and working gauges. When it rains, yes you can turn on weather (rain) effects, the windshield wipers move, and the rain drops splatter onto your windshield. When in outside view, youíll see the small rooster tails from the tires throwing up the rain. Incredible sense of racing, and great fun especially in multiplayer.

    But then the negatives raise their ugly head. Race Pro seems more like a beta, an unfinished product. So many graphic bugs and glitches. There is too much graphical flickering, close range pop up of shadows, fences and trees. Simbinís PC titles always had great sound I thought, and while Race Pro does have some good sounds, their just not great. Sometimes they cut out in a turn, or most annoying is the sound that your getting feedback from your microphone, but your really not, itís a in game sound of some sort.

    The required unlocking of cars ruins this game, donít get me wrong, I can see while playing the career that you would have to start with low end cars and move up and unlock cars, but like I said, in single races and especially multiplayer races all cars, all tracks should be available.

    The presentation of the game, especially the multiplayer part is so weak, it almost ruins it. We spend way to long trying to set up races and coming into issues. And itís also a well known situation that thou Race Pro claims 12 player multiplayer, when that 8th player joins your game, including your Xbox 360, will lock up. Iíve experienced this every time, and Iíve heard others confirm it.

    Race Pro is a great racing simulation game, and for 40 bucks itís worth it. But Simbin/Atari needs to really address some major and minor issues with this game. Starting with unlocking all the cars for multiplayer, and fixing the multiplayer bugs and interface.

    Comparison: (Forza Motorsports 2 and Race Pro)

    This part of the review is not normal. I am not a big fan of comparing games to other games. I like to think of each game as their own. But so many in other reviews and in forums have, so I decided to address it. For one comparing Race Pro to Grid is absolutely ridiculous. Sure they are both racers, but Grid is an arcade racing game while Race Pro attempts to be a simulation. (One member of SimHQ went to buy Race Pro at his local GameStop, and the sales associate tried everything he could to sell him Grid instead, saying it was the better racing simulation. Why? Because the damage model is more extreme, or maybe because itís 20 bucks more.)

    Now I can understand comparing Race Pro with Forza Motorsports 2. FM2 is a great game; I have it and love it, and have logged many hours with it. FM2 shines in so many departments compared to Race Pro. FM2 has a better SP and MP interface, more options, better variety in cars and tracks, and a better replay editor, with the ability to take screens and upload them to their web site. FM2 has better tuning and car editing and upgrading. And the Platinum Edition of FM2 at just 20 bucks is an incredible value, containing all tracks and car downloads.

    Race Pro has less options, confusing and troublesome interface, weak replay controls, (i.e.: you canít delete replays in game, got to delete them from the hard drive.), and that damn unlocking problem. (FM2 made you unlock cars but supplied you with a few unlocked cars in each class for SP and MP use.) Race Proís tuning options are more limited then FM2, and has no car customization or upgrading like FM2. But damn, Race Pro sure is fun to drive and feels like a racer. Race Pro is a great racing simulation, without all the flash and details of FM2. And it has rain and cockpit views!

    UPDATE: A patch has finally been released which addresses many of the problems with MP hosting and joining, including 12 player races now. Also the wheel issue has been addressed, fine tuned some what. One vehicle accidentally left unlocked in the F3000 stable has been locked, while another has been unlocked due to it being unable to be unlocked in career mode.
    Magnum |TG-18th|

    We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.

  • #2
    Re: Race Pro (Xbox 360) review...

    well i had screens, logos and stuff to edit into this review for you guys... but guess you can't edit, correct, or add anything to a review you make.

    Just FYI... Race pro has been patched and most of the problems, especially with MP have been fixed.
    Magnum |TG-18th|

    We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.




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