The Gran Turismo of Wii games gets the job done, if only just barely.
If you simply must have a Gran Turismo for your Nintendo Wii, Ubisoft is here to oblige you with GT Pro Series, an underwhelming but effective racing game that once again shows off the Wiimote at its best. Unfortunately, it also shows off the limitations of the Wii’s graphics.
Gran Turismo GT pro gameplay
The gameplay will be entirely familiar to anyone who’s ever played a carPG (i.e. car RPG). You win races to unlock new cars and parts, which you can use to win more races to unlock more new cars and parts, and so on. The races are divided into leagues that have to be won in sequence, and each league is composed of a number of races. The varied requirements for the races ensure that you’ll drive a variety of cars rather than simply sticking with the best and fastest. Between each league, you’ll have to pass a variety of tests to ge your « license ». Sound familiar?
It’s old hat stuff, obviously inspired by Gran Turismo, but it’s effective enough. The races start out short and easy, getting progressively more demanding as you get better at driving. There aren’t many tracks, but the point of the game is driving different cars, not scenery. There’s a limited selection of foreign cars, mainly Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas. They feel distinct and the handling is detailed enough to offer a real challenge as you get more powerful cars. For instance, the transition into a front wheel drive is one of the steeper parts of the learning curve. Anyone can win a race with the Honda Civic, but it’s going to take some practice to tame that Supra.
The best thing about GT Pro, and where it ultimately has legs (err, wheels), is the driving model. The physics are inconsistent, particularly when it comes to collisions. There’s no damage model, and GT Pro is forgiving of collisions to a fault. Like Gran Turismo, the best way around a sharp bend is bouncing off the inside of another car. But this is more a problem with the genre that GT Pro itself. This isn’t a driving game about messing with the competition so much as it’s a driving game about master combinations of car and track.
The Wiimote is certainly up to the task of finessing a difficult car around an intricate track, and the included plastic steering wheel seems to help, if only at a conceptual level. This is actually nothing but a round bracket for your Wiimote that lets you hold it in front of you like a steering wheel. You’ll look pretty silly grasping this toy sized wheel in midair, like a child pretending to drive. But of course, if you have any reservations about looking silly, you probably don’t even have a Nintendo Wii.
The biggest problem with this sort of racer on the Wii is that the developers are making a game that favors photorealism. The Wii’s graphics hardware is capable of no such thing. The result is often cringe-worthy, with plain textures, flat lighting, and perfunctory car models that honestly look like something from the Nintendo 64. Ouch. Given how good something like Dark Souls for PS3 looks, this is a pretty embarrassing display of the Wii’s graphics capabilities.
The quick races, time trails, and drift challenges aren’t much incentive to pull your nose out of the career mode. And the multiplayer is hardly worth booting up. You can only play splitscreen, and without AI cars. But there’s no denying that GT Pro works when it comes to tapping into the strange compulsion carPGers have to unlock cars. The parts and trophies, and even a few touches of customization, move the game forward at a snappy enough pace that you might not even mind the terrible scenery.