The name SimBin is synonymous with breathtaking reality for PC race fans.‚ For years SimBin has steadily released first rate-racing sims, most famously in their latest PC release, GTR Evolution.‚ An over the top commitment to providing ultimate immersion and sense of wonder for their hardened fans has won the development studio high praises.‚ However, the Swedish studio was not satisfied with dominating the PC demographic.‚ Their sights moved to the powerhouse of a gaming platform, the Xbox 360.‚ For the past two years SimBin has been working tirelessly to perfect their winning formula and the end result is RACE Pro, the most realistic racing title I have ever played.
Before we delve deep into the components that make up RACE Pro, it should be known that the $40 price tag is clear evidence that SimBin desired to nail core game-play, multi-player both online and off, and not much else.‚ That is not to say RACE Pro is a title you will zoom through in three hours and be on your merry way, nothing could be less true.‚ Only that the narrative is absent, your desire to progress is fueled not on your passion for a character, rather for your desire to win every race for your own sake.
Feb. 17, 2009
When first firing up RACE Pro you’ll be treated to some over glorified corporate logo’s.‚ One that stood out however was that of LIZARD, the core game engine RACE Pro.‚ Developed in-house, the LIZARD engine is a reusable engine primarily focused on the racing genre, but SimBin is hinting at future application to a first person shooter title utilizing the engine.‚ Furthermore, while RACE Pro is exclusive to the Xbox 360, SimBin is continuously building and adapting the engine to fit the needs of another next-gen console.‚ Any guesses? That’s right, the PlayStation 3.
RACE Pro has two major single player modes, Career, and Championship.‚ Career has seven different contract classes, labeled A through H each constituting a different car class on varied courses.‚ Each contract begins with a tryout in which you must beat a predetermined lap pace.‚ By completing a tryout, your “credit” fee to sign the contract is dramatically reduced to an affordable level.
Now that you are a signed driver, what else is there to do but prove yourself against formidable AI opponents on the course?‚ Each contract consists of three races that vary from two laps in a Mini Cooper against five others to the grueling seven lap, eighteen minute affair in a Formula 3000 racer.
Many of the courses are accurate representations of their real world counterparts.‚ I guess this would mean something to me if I knew anything about the sport and its famous locations, but even though I don’t, there is lasting appeal in each and every course.‚ ‚ My personal favorite, Macau, set on the urban streets of Portugal features long straight-aways followed by the narrowest of hairpin turns, a recipe that yields frustration but also pure joy when executed correctly.
Before you begin a contract you must select your difficulty setting.‚ Novice difficulty, which is a must for beginners, allows all driving assistants to be on and at their highest level.‚ The various driving aids are traction control, antilock brakes, the race line, and stability help.‚ Both novice and semi-pro allow the driving aids at a certain degree but professional removes every single driving assistant and is the most challenging experience I have ever encountered.‚ The race line, spoken about earlier, shows the best possible route to take when approaching corners and brake periods.‚ Furthermore, this line changes color and number to correspond with the severity.‚ A green line with a number 6 means the turn is barely noticeable and there is no need to slow down.‚ On the other end of the spectrum, a dark red line with a number 1 means you must almost come to a complete stop to negotiate the turn.
The load screen that follows your difficulty selection shows the course you are about to race on and has hints and details available for each and every turn.‚ Using the D-pad to scroll over a particular turn will show you the number severity of the turn and how, in words, is best to approach it.‚ I found this tool incredibly useful.‚ In the latter stages of the game when getting a great start is so very key, you must know how to approach a turn before you enter it, and without these hints you’ll see yourself lagging behind unable to catch up.