Pro Rally 2001
|a game by||Ubi Studios SL|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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How's this for timing? The greatest rally game of all time has just elbowed itself onto the shelves, so Ubi Soft attempt to take it on head to head with an unproven, unlicensed and - if we're honest - unremarkable game. Commercial suicide? Quite possibly, although cynics may suggest that it's a cunning move, latching onto the coat tails of Colin McRae in an attempt to ensnare undemanding gamers and confused parents. Given the wholly random nature of game development, it's just as likely to be mere coincidence. But what do we care? All it means to us is another rally game to plough through for a couple of days before dismissing it as not worthy to change Colin McRae's tyres.
So let's make a start. Rally is as rally does, and Pro Rally2001 is therefore packed to the roof with the usual homogenous ingredients: Toyota Corollas, Peugeot 306s, Australia, Finland, easy lefts, hard rights, static spectators, clouds of dust, specks of rain, tweaks of suspension, yadda-yadda-yadda. Our recent announcement that the rally genre hadn't yet reached the farcical state of Grand Prix games would appear to have been bogus, as there are now more offroad games than you can shake a windscreen wiper at. To the untrained eye, they're all the same, blurring into one long 3D-accelerated powerslide.
Fortunately, our eye is highly trained, and it is therefore with a degree of indifference that we proclaim Pro Rally2001 by no means the worst rally game on the PC, but some distance behind the best. Graphically, it's roughly as good as your system allows, with the usual landmarks looming up in time-honoured fashion. The sound is the usual hoover effect, with the co-driver barking out instructions over the din. There is some attempt at originality here, as Ubi Soft are claiming to have invented the first-ever intelligent co-driver. It would appear that this refers to him shrieking "Come on!" when you could be going faster, a world away from the clipped professionalism of Nicky grist, the perennial occupant of McRae's passenger seat. Depending on your frame of mind, it's a nice touch or an irritating gimmick, neither of which present a convincing argument for a consumer purchase.
In other features, Pro Rally 2001 enables you to hone your skills at a driving school, success at which then opens up the first of three sequential championships, with 15 officially licensed cars to tear through. The arcade mode involves getting the better of nine other ghost cars, and if anything is slightly on the difficult side, the game not being interesting enough to warrant ascending the learning curve. Pro Rally 2001 is by no means a hateful piece of shit, and it's unfortunate that this review has fallen to someone who has spent the preceding weeks sunk up to the nuts in Colin McRae. As we iterated then, ultimately, it all comes down to handling. Pro Rally 2001 feels like playing a game. Colin McRae rally 2.0 feels like driving a car (probably).