This article was originally published at Aussie-Nintendo.com
GT Pro Series is just one of several titles that Ubisoft has released with the launch of the Wii. Before its development on the Wii it was released on GameCube as ‘GT Cube’ in Japan only. Unfortunately aside from the enhanced controls and a change of title, it appears that little to nothing has changed from the original released back in 2003.
GT Pro Series is presented nicely enough, with a flashy title and a cover and including a bonus steering wheel. The selected gameplay images on the back cover also give a nice illusion of what to expect in the graphics department. This is all however lost as soon as you boot up the game where you are treated to a series of screens and no sound or even the short intro movie you generally expect in the racing genre. The title screen is no different; just a still picture with no music.
After getting into the menu you are greeted with all the game modes you can expect from this sort of game. There is the quick race, the multiplayer and of course the championship modes. These all work in the typical way: you must beat each cup on different difficulties to unlock the advanced cups along with extra machine parts, tracks and vehicles. This is all set out in a simple way and each cup has different rules which all amount to “this or these cars only”. It is apparent from the start that the game features a lot less than what you would get in other racing games from as far back as the original Grand Turismo. The menu screen alone will appear dated to many and once you get into the game, you will see that the in-game is no better.
The graphics in GT Pro Series are cell-shaded and while they look alright on the back cover, they actually appear extremely dated in action. The weather effects are limited to rain or clear, you can play daylight, evening or night with very little difference in detail. The car models are simplistic, blocky and each type of car is barely recognisable to its real-life counterpart. The cell-shading succeeds only in covering up the lack of detail in the cars and tracks. I would be quite confident to say that graphics of this quality could have been produced late the Nintendo 64’s lifecycle. When considering that the Wii is by most accounts twice as powerful as the GameCube, graphics that look bad on GameCube are completely unacceptable and serve as the visual evidence of lazy development.
If it can be believed, the sound is actually a lot worse than the visuals. As mentioned already, there is no sound until you get to the menu screen and the repetitive tune played there is the best you can expect for the rest of the game. All the music tracks are repetitive and sound like they were recorded off an AM radio station with bad reception. The car sounds aren’t particularly bad with the usual engine sounds and breaks, luckily easily heard above the awful music. Finishing a race earns a little celebratory tune that sounds mildly better than everything else but does little more than add sprinkles to stale bread.
The Wii has the reputation for gameplay above graphics and this is certainly the one area in which GT Pro Series succeeds. The control does work rather well although exaggerated movements will have your car hurtling into the fences more than you like. Steering is a simple matter of slight turns left or right and you can quickly get used to this. Acceleration is done with the 2 button which is perfect for the control as it is held horizontally. Menus are navigated with the d-pad and there are a few other control options available. It would have been nice if the remote had been implemented a little more, such as using the pointer in menus and perhaps allowing spin outs by shaking the control. The steering wheel is a nice addition but doesn’t add much to the gameplay. I personally found it more comfortable just holding the remote and like other game steering wheels, it still doesn’t come close to really driving.
The game isn’t difficult to start with but as you progress the races will be more challenging. There are only eleven tracks so it shouldn’t take long to master all of them. The single player is reasonably meaty and you have around eighty cars and some different machine parts to choose from. The game does also feature a two player split screen but this is poorly implemented, allowing no computer controlled vehicles and little in the way of customization.
Launch games are rarely fantastic but GT Pro Series never had a chance as it is merely a ported GameCube that looked dated then and is naturally more so now. The controls work well but it is hard to ignore the lack of depth poor graphics, sound. If this were a budget title, some of the shortcomings could be overlooked but I still wouldn’t feel honest in recommending it to even the biggest racing fans.