It all sounds imposing, but played at a lower difficulty level, it's a technical but incredibly playable racer that shouldn't scare anyone weaned on Forza or PGR. It's never less than a sim, but the game is so willing to help you find your groove that improving your performance never feels like work. Where other games bleed the fun out of racing or punish you harshly for straying off the perfect racing line, this is a game that wants you to succeed and leads with the carrot rather than the stick. Before long you've ditched the amateur status completely, and are busy earning your stripes as a semi-pro. Friendly track-specific tips appear on every loading screen and, suddenly, the cliff-face of professional status doesn't seem quite so impossibly daunting.
Having got the stuff under the bonnet so wonderfully right, it's a shame that the game can't quite boast the bodywork to match. It's not an ugly game, but compared to the standard holders on the 360 it's not going to win any beauty contests either. Car models are more than acceptable, but the replays reveal them to be fairly rigid boxes rather than intricate models where you can see each shift of weight in the suspension. Car damage is present, but hardly spectacular. Keep crashing into the barriers at top speed and you might start to see some scuffing and buckling after four or five crashes, but if you're expecting mechanical carnage, you're looking at the wrong game. Trackside details are equally sparse, and the stiff spectators often give the impression that you're racing through a Hornby playset rather than a real race track.
The presentation, too, is less than enticing. The front-end is functional, music almost entirely absent (not always a bad thing, but still notable) and the only human contact comes from a hilariously unimpressed voiceover man who can barely conceal his lack of enthusiasm for your hard-earned achievements. "You won," he deadpans, stifling a yawn. "Very good race."
Multiplayer is much as you'd expect, offering Xbox Live or System Link play for up to twelve racers, on any of the tracks in dry or wet conditions. There's sadly no split-screen option, but what you do get is a very strange two-player "Hotseat" option where you take it in turns during the same race. In the co-op version, control of the same car switches between two players. In versus mode, one player races against an AI facsimile of the other player until the situation is reversed. It's as barmy as it sounds, and not entirely successful, but as a way of allowing two players on the same screen without sacrificing frame-rate it's...well, interesting.
Such unpolished aspects won't do the game any favours when it's competing against the likes of GRID and PGR4, but shrewd racing fans should be able to look past the exterior and appreciate the finely tuned engine beneath. Race Pro is a great driving experience, striking a rare balance between the immediate enjoyment of an arcade racer and the deeper, more nuanced long-term satisfaction of a hardcore sim.