Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor accelerometer puts the brakes on rally racing. Tackling one of the world's most gruelling racing events, Rally Master Pro turns over a beautiful, challenging run that could benefit from a tune up to reach its full potential.
More than any other type of racing, rally revolves around handling. From responsive controls to variations in terrain that realistically influence your driving, Rally Master Pro handles confidently. Three schemes are offered: a stock tilt method, a touch-enabled scheme with a virtual steering wheel, and another referencing left and right directional buttons.
The accelerometer scheme is solid, though not as precise as the D-pad option. Tapping the 'left' and 'right' buttons yields more precise handling than tilting your handset. Of course, it's not a matter of the motion controls being broken: on the contrary, they're functional, just not as tight as the D-pad scheme. There's a trade off, however, as drifting through turns is much easier using the accelerometer than with touch controls.
Most impressive is how realistically terrain affects handling. Differences among asphalt, dirt, gravel, and rain-slick surfaces are tangible. Wheels grip asphalt and slide through bends on a dirt track. Crests and other minor bumps in the courses also have an impact on handling, testing your ability to maintain control over your vehicle while maximising speed.
Achieving the best possible time is your goal, after all. Without any competing vehicles on the road, you're racing against the clock in three lengthy rallies.
Mirroring actual events, Rally Master Pro organises each of its rallies into bite-sized stages. There are nine per rally, taking around a minute and a half apiece to complete. This benefits the game from a portable standpoint since you're able to pop on for a quick stage if you only have a moment to play.
Scraping course edges significantly damages your vehicle, but even skilled driving over tough terrain wears away at handling at top speed - just as in a real event.
At specific intervals, you're prompted to fix up your car via three different mini-games. Cable Connect, for example, has you tapping panels within a small grid in order to create a continuous linking cable. While the tap mechanic works fine, gesture controls would have been a more sophisticated alternative.
One missing element is vehicle customisation. Only three vehicles are offered specific to the rallies, none of which can be tuned. At the very least, the option to change liveries would be nice.
Expanding on the three rallies and repair mini-games (which are unlocked for free play once you've placed second in each of the rallies) are Time Trial and Adrenaline runs. Both occur on individual stages from the three rallies, the former asking you to post the shortest time and the latter tracking the least damage.
Given the asynchronous nature of rally, multiplayer is substituted by leaderboards that rank your best times against those of other players online. A better choice would have been downloadable ghost data. Not only would this preserve the focus on time at the heart of rally racing, but it would give the game a kind of multiplayer.
Each part of Rally Master Pro comes just short of its full potential, like a racer moments off the mark on the stages of a larger rally circuit. Ghost data in addition to leaderboards, tighter motion controls over touch controls, more inventive gestures for the mini-games - these all represent lost potential.
When the final time is posted, though, Rally Master Pro is still a winner.