Wednesday, 13 August 2008

RacePro: Preview

Swedish game developer SimBin Studios is no stranger to racing simulators and is the team responsible for the popular GTR and RACE series of games. Fans of the aforementioned series will be happy to know that the team is hard at work on RacePro, a driving simulator headed exclusively to the Xbox 360 later this year. Arcade racers will want to switch off the ignition and walk away now, because this title is focused solely on offering an authentic track racing experience. Full vehicle tweaking and customisability play pivotal roles in RacePro, so you'll be able to fiddle with your engine, brakes, suspension, and much more to get your car running just the way you want.

Because of the game's focus on true-to-life simulation, even at the easiest difficulty we found the learning curve quite punishing. Locking up the brakes late and hard and then trying to steer your way through corners is simply not an option, and in our first go we spent a considerable amount of time pushing kitty litter when we tried this approach. Early braking is the key to successful corner navigation, and with onscreen indicators giving you reasonable notice of upcoming turns, you'll be able to adjust to road conditions accordingly.

Atari reps couldn't put an exact figure on the number of drivable vehicles RacePro will feature, but they did say they're aiming to offer known and loved car manufacturers such as Volvo, Seat, BMW, and Honda, to name just a few. Four racing modes-career, single race, championship, and time attack-will be available for up to 15 offline AI opponents.

RacePro screenshot 2
Online support hasn't been finalised yet, but at this stage the team is working towards 12-player racing. Hotseat multiplayer gameplay is also planned for inclusion and will see each player drive for a bit before passing the controller on to the next person. It's billed to test quick reactions and precision driving-even from sim veterans. There will be 13 real-world tracks in the game, including Macau, Porto, and Pau, as well as the Laguna, Seca, and Road America US tracks.

RacePro screenshot 3
From our time with a work-in-progress build of the game, it's currently a little visually lacking compared to its biggest competition, Forza Motorsport 2 on the Xbox 360, and the established Gran Turismo series from Polyphony Digital on the PlayStation 3. Car models appeared quite detailed, but lower-resolution environments let the title down somewhat. Despite its goal of offering a realistic racing experience, even when you're screaming down a straight the game is simply not convincingly fast-you feel as though you're at the wheel of an underpowered hatchback rather than a performance vehicle. We're hoping this is addressed before the game is finalised. Physics and vehicular damage to the car's control systems were accurate enough, and spending face time with walls will result in a ride that pulls realistically to the left or right even on straight road. Unfortunately, even careening off the bitumen and causing massive head-on damage with walls resulted in only minor cosmetic remodelling on the car.

RacePro screenshot 4
The game's Autumn 2008 shelf date is looming, and while the game is showing promise, we're hopeful the kinks presented will be ironed out before the game makes it into the hands of sim racer fans the world over. Check back soon for our full review.

See also on Car Games To Play:
project gotham racing - 4
stuntman - ignition
burnout paradise - one of best car game to play

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