Pro Rally 2002 Review
Pro Rally 2002 is, obviously, a rally racing game and the first of its type on the GameCube. It has been my experience that gamers either love racing games or could do without them. Even those that like them can have strong feelings about the different styles of racing games. Rally style racing in general is not nearly as popular overall in the United States as NASCAR or Indy style racing. So, in some ways, Pro Rally has already lost the pole position and must come from behind. Unfortunately the game does not quite have enough ponies under the hood. Unless you are a die-hard rally fan this game will not help win any debates for the excitement of rally racing.
On the surface Pro Rally has the making of a nice game. There are over forty tracks to race on including such locations as snowy Sweden, curvy Italy and dusty Argentina. (A sign of the lack of popularity of rally racing in the States is that there are no US tracks.) You have the choice of up to 20 cars that are officially licensed from Audi, Peugeot, Subaru and more. There are six racing modes ranging from Arcade to Professional Championship. Of course there is also a two player head-to-head mode so you and a buddy can see who is the better rally racer without doing any real damage to yourself or the family ride.
When first starting the game you create a driver who you use to compete in all modes. At first only the Time Trial and Professional School modes are unlocked. This is a major bummer because if you want to just play around in the Arcade mode you must first unlock it by completing all of the tests in the Professional School. Same thing goes for the Trophy mode. This makes absolutely no sense and really hurts the enjoyment of the game. I could fully understand the idea behind locking the Championship mode until you have at least completed some of the School, but to have to go through the entire School to unlock the other modes is just stupid. It seems to me that the School and Championship mode should have been tied together and, in order to make the game more accessible and much less frustrating, the Arcade and Trophy modes should have been unlocked from the start. Maybe if passing all the tests in the School mode was not so ridiculously hard I would not have made such a big deal about needing to complete it before the other modes were unlocked. Nah, I think I still would be ticked. I just do not like it when developers lock parts of a game for no reason. All it does it take away enjoyment from the casual gamer. The reason for playing a game for a long time should be because you are having fun, not because you must in order to unlock the part you really want to play. The School mode is no fun but it must be endured to get to the rest of the game.
Of all the modes my favorite would be the Trophy mode. This is where you compete against others in a special circuit. You race on either a wide track or a parallel, which is basically a double road where you are separated from the other driver. Depending on the tournament you are racing, you either have to race against four drivers on a wide track or against one other driver on the parallel track. You must win in order to move on to the next round where you face the winners of the other brackets. These races were my favorite because they are a cross between the Arcade and Championship modes. While not as short and simple as the Arcade it also is not as detailed as the Championship. The biggest difference in the Arcade mode is that the car takes no damage so you do not need to be as careful as in the other modes. Yet the Arcade is not as “arcadey” as it needs to be. It would have been nice to have secret short cuts, crazy jumps and things like that. An arcade mode invokes thoughts of fun and wackiness to me, both of which are missing in Pro Rally.