Pro Pinball: Big Race USA
by Empire Interactive/Cunning Development (Win95/98/NT CD-ROM)
Pro Pinball: Big Race USA Box Art

Reviewed: 07/1999

Rating: 5 1/2 of 6Rating: 5 1/2 of 6Rating: 5 1/2 of 6Rating: 5 1/2 of 6

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Single-table package with a road race/taxi-across-the-USA theme as the third installment in the Pro Pinball series. Non-scrolling fullscreen 3D view with a large array of customizable options, from the usual three view angles, resolution (max 1600x1200), colors (max 16M) to graphics and motion blur detail as well as four skill levels with seperate highscore tables, slope, the novel table condition (new to neglected) and flipper power. Up to 4 players, 3 balls each, buy-in games up to 10 credits with no more than 30 credits stored. 3-way nudges, harder to apply successfully than in Timeshock. Full access to table audits and stats for total simulated ownership including simulated owners manual. Online highscore posting for as much as seven different categories per skill level (highscore, buy-in, big race, speedway, loop, combo, video). Head-to-head play via Internet which I haven't tried. Good dot-matrix anims. Quality audio and voice effects and CD tunes that seem a bit uninspired at times. Excellent physics and realism, on par with Timeshock.
BRUSA is a killer computer implementation of a fictional pinball table that is well thought out and rich in features but I don't find it as refreshing a table as Timeshock was. From the title I somehow expected to be able to relive my own road trips across the US. In the game, as one travels west from city to city in order to make it back across in two different races, one has to master amusing but generic "car challenges" mostly by shooting ramp combos (there are no mushroom bumpers or drop targets, nearly everything revolves around ramps and sink holes) and complete frenzies, duels and modes for race boosters. Travelling is by means of a taxi alternating the table between city and highway modes to advance towards the finale. The rules are clever and logical but I expected challenges that are specific to each city's reputation as well as more peculiarities that one might encounter on a trip across the USA. Timeshock offers features unique to each location while in BRUSA the location is a random generator for a car wash, traffic jam or find parking situation. BRUSA contains mild and cute humor (including "where's the nearest burger joint?") but where are those Yankee cliches that could really be exploited, especially by Brits? BRUSA is challenging if you are intent to "see it all" and adds variety for any type of player with its increased configurability. My reservations are maybe best summed up with the term (pun intended) 'middle-of-the-road'. And I can't help thinking of Addiction Pinball:World Rally Fever... However, BRUSA meets my criteria for a top ranking pinsim and it falls slightly short of Timeshock only because of the generically engineered and recycled theme.

Where Found: Empire Interactive mail order, 02/1999

Released/Copyright: 1998, Entertainment International (UK) Ltd.