Ubisoft Made a Cel-Shaded Gran Turismo Clone on the Wii
GT Pro Series is a capable and enjoyable racer for the time it hit the market
Recently I have been delving back into the Wii library and I have been impressed by what I see so far. I came across a sealed copy of GT Pro Series on a recent trip to my local retro game store. The game also came with a sturdy steering wheel for the Wiimote.
This caught my attention, as I had not seen any great racing games on the Wii other than the Mario Kart series. I'm sure there are some great racing games, I just haven't made my way to them yet. So, I got home and popped GT Pro Series into my Wii, and I was impressed.
This game is similar to the GT Series of games on the GBA. And yes, even those games were great for what they were. But this game has over 80 cars and a ton of tracks to choose from. I couldn't believe I only paid 3 bucks for a brand new copy of this game with the steering wheel!
Taking a look at GT Pro Series, it's quick to see why some in the gaming community might not enjoy this title. The cel-shading effect can be a little off-putting if you are into high def graphics and realism. But, let's face facts. The Wii was never about pushing the boundaries of graphical capabilities.
The Game Modes
There are a couple of different game modes to choose from, but unless you have friends over you are probably going to spend a lot of time in the Championship mode. This mode is set up like Gran Turismo and Sega GT, where you make your way through various cups.
The thing that caught my attention about the championship races in this game is that they are only 1 lap. That means that you can blast through a couple of cups in a night and come back to it. I actually enjoy the less-intensive dynamic of having a single lap, as opposed to three laps where it can get repetitive.
The Championship mode is not too challenging but it also isn't boring. Each time you win a championship, you will also unlock a new car. If you complete all of the championships in the game you will eventually unlock all of the cars. But even still, there are many cars available at the start.
The multiplayer mode is great as well, you can have fun racing with up to three of your friends through the well-designed levels. The Practice mode is also there along with Time Trial. For the most part, there are enough modes in this game to keep you busy; this is definitely not just a simplistic arcade racer.
The main selling point of the Wii was that the console was not controlled like anything else, as motion controls were still a novelty at that time. That meant you would have to get used to using the Wiimote. I wondered how this control scheme would perform in a racing title since GT Pro Series comes packed with a plastic steering wheel attachment for the Wiimote.
The steering wheel is made of good quality material and it feels nice and firm in your hands. I will admit that getting used to the controls took a second, and the main thing I had to do was position my Wii sensor bar correctly. If you move even a little bit, you will lose control of your car.
The steering with the Wiimote is also very sensitive, and if I over correct even a little bit the car swerves out of control. The key is to lightly turn either way, and you will get into a grove. Overall, the controls are not too bad, with the A button accelerating and the 2 button for the brakes or reverse.
Pressing the B trigger will show a reverse camera angle. The main drawback for me was that the set only came with one steering wheel. In order to play multiplayer, you will need to grab another. Luckily, these things are dirt cheap nowadays, and you can get them fairly easily.
Looking back at old reviews of this game, I was surprised at how bad the press was for it. I don't think this game looks that bad at all, especially if you have an HDMI converter as I do. The environmental graphics are nice and smooth, and the cars are perfectly detailed.
Even though the game is cel-shaded you don't get the feeling that this is a cartoon. That is what the creators were going for, a realistic driving game that was just a little different than the norm. It should be noted that the physics of each vehicle is also realistic.
You get a greater sense of speed in this game than in racing games that I have played in the past. The second championship for instance has you driving a compact Daihatsu, but the performance is excellent. Again, the fact that you are racing for one lap makes it quick and to the point.
This game isn't going to compete with Forza Motorsport, but I don't think that is what the intended audience was, even back in the day. GT Pro Series is a great racing sim for the Wii, and it was one that we needed.
Ubisoft Should Have Done More
I was honestly impressed with this game and I can't believe that Ubisoft has not done more with the franchise. Considering the impressive gameplay modes and the selection of cars, there isn't a better racing game on the Wii in my opinion. I think the cel-shading effect gives the game a unique feeling.
The Wii had many great titles to choose from, and GT Pro Series is a Gran Turismo competitor in my opinion. The gameplay is addictive and simple, and the realism of the cars only adds to the experience. If you've grown tired of Mario Kart, then this just might be worth picking up.
This is literally one of the cheapest Wii games that you can buy. There are dozens of copies laying around for $2.99. For that kind of investment, you can't go wrong, and the racing experience is one of a kind.
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