PC REVIEW: TOCA RACE DRIVER 3

TOCA Race Driver 3 is your one-stop, racing shop. It's like 35 games in one. For racing fans this is the ultimate stranded-on-a-deserted-island game - even if you don't have an internet connection. Hopefully you'll find an electrical outlet. by Mike Chasselwaite

March 1, 2006 - TOCA Race Driver 3 is a sim. It enforces the rules of each race to literally keep you in line. You will even be penalized for getting out of line. Each race is taken as seriously as if it were the real thing. You will be coached in the various disciplines and be expected to adhere to the rules of each and every race. There are a lot of sharp corners on the tracks and you can't cut them. You've got to learn to stay in your lane and not cross the line. Bumping other vehicles is also a no-on. It might cost you points or your position or worse yet, it might result in a crash and that can permanently affect your vehicle's performance. This is no arcade game, it's going to kick your ass.

The number of races you can take part in is overwhelming: NASCAR, Formula 1, Rally, Sprint, Monster Truck, Off Road, Open Wheel, Indy, Touring, Stock Car and even Go-Kart racing to name a few. All of these racing games are quality. Although I can't say they are all excellent they are all very good. You won't find a few standouts with a bevy of add-ons. Each race offers plenty of depth in and of itself. There are some floaty physics issues I have with the game overall, where the automobiles feel a little light. The off-road terrain can feel as slick as a wet asphalt track. It's something that you do get used to and the perception is more pronounced since you can move from different racing styles in a few seconds so you're always comparing them to last game.

For all the different racing styles, TOCA doesn't feel disjointed. Instead it feels like it's loaded with features and options. It's like winning the racing-game lottery.

There are two Career modes, offline multi-player and even online play for up to eight players. Even playing against the AI can be fun but it doesn't beat the multi-player modes. The easiest difficulty setting is great for beginners. The AI slows down on corners allowing you a fair racer where you can actually learn how to control the different vehicles around the tracks. There are 70 licensed cars and 80 licensed tracks. On the higher difficulty settings the AI will take corners at incredible speeds. It's going to take you some time to learn how to corner properly so you'll want to get as much practice in as possible. The faster you go the more difficult it is to control your car. The AI doesn't always seem to share that problem.

The AI will cause accidents just like real drivers, but they will also try to avoid accidents that you cause by driving around the disaster area. You might be able to recover your position from an accident but your vehicle will take damage both on the outside and internally. You might only be showing a crumpled fender but your engine might have sustained some damage which causes it to stall intermittently. Or you could have damaged the stabilizer which affects your steering, causing your vehicle to pull to the right or left. If things look hopeless for you, you can restart the race from anywhere and try it all over again.

In the World Tour mode you will be faced with a 32-tier tournament. You don't always have to come in first to continue to the next leg but most of the time you'll have to be in the top three. The World Tour mode is also the story mode. Here you will learn the finer points of racing from your Scottish mechanic mentor. The story outlines your struggle for racing supremacy and your rivalry with different racers. The story itself is very weak as it tries too hard to inspire and motivate you through revenge as opposed to the love of the sport. Even though the dialog is cheesy, the voiceacting holds up well.

Accessing the off and online menus are a pleasure. The streamlined and clean interface lets you find whatever it is you're looking for easily. Getting into a game online is about as easy as making a phone call. And once you're up and playing you won't have to worry about lag. Even with eight players I didn't notice any slowdown or delay in control commands. For those that prefer link system play, a four-player, split screen mode is offered.

You can't diss the vehicles. They look fantastic. GT racers, dune buggies, monster trucks and muscle cars look identical to their real-world counterparts. It's great to see that these vehicles will display damage as a lot of the licensees don't like the public to see their products all dirty, scratched and dented.

The tracks are very realistic looking but the background scenery could have used a little more detail. The sound effects consist of engine roaring, tire squealing and metal crumpling, all of which sounds authentic. The music is catch and tuneful, it's not just your typical throwaway, hip hop crap.

TOCA Race Driver 3 may not be the perfect racing game in terms of physics and feel but there's no other game that can match the outrageous number of different racing styles at such a consistent level of quality. The sheer variety of races and the gradually increasing difficulty makes the game very challenging and ensures tremendous replay value. You don't have to be a hardcore racer to get into this game, but you're bound to be one by the time you complete all of the races.


Features:

  • Incredible damage engine that creates a greater sense of realism
  • Weight and aerodynamic effects on every car component change through the course of a race. Tires warm up, radiators overheat and engines blow
  • Expanded and tuned physics for ultra-real handling
  • 116 championships (including bonus championships) with authentic race rules and regulations
  • Over 35 different racing styles including Stock Cars, Big Wheel Trucks, Muscle Cars, Pick-ups, Baja Motorcross and Sprint Cars

By Mike Chasselwaite
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
TOCA Race Driver 3 (PC)
4.7
Graphics
Very close to photo-realistic graphics. Certainly some of the best ever for the PS2.
4.2
Control
There are some slight control issues which is almost impossible to avoid with a game of this scope. The developers should be congratulated and not criticized unduly for their efforts.
4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good music, sound effects and voiceacting. The roar of the engines are guaranteed to make you believe you're at a race.
4.5
Play Value
There are more than 35 different racing styles to explore not to mention the offline and online multi-player modes.
4.5
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Preview by Gooseberry

If variety is the spice of life, then TOCA Race Driver 2006 will get any racing gamer hot under the helmet: it’s going to be crammed with some of the world’s greatest real racing cars when it launches in February 2006 for PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox® videogame system from Microsoft and PC.

In TOCA Race Driver 2006 players will compete in more than 100 individual championships covering 35 different racing disciplines – that’s more than any other racing game has ever offered. Forget modded cars, forget streetcars, forget fictional racecars, just jump straight into some of the world’s most exciting real competition cars – both modern and historic.

TOCA Race Driver 2006’s career disciplines cover GT, Off Road, Touring Cars, Historic, Open Wheel, Rally and Oval and drivers can choose to jump in and out of each one. The game’s authentic handling engine will give players the nuances of racing every individual car, providing for a huge range of different racing experiences.

TOCA Race Driver 2006 features the Dodge Charger that’s new on the NASCAR circuits this year. Alternatively, drivers can try the open-wheel endurance with the IndyCar Series championship cars at Indianapolis.

Players will also see how a specific racecar type has evolved through history, from the most technically advanced modern cars to historic classics, when victory really was all down to the driver’s skill. From the most modern BMW Williams F1 Team car, through to Damon Hills’ championship winning FW18 of the 1990s, Nelson Piquet’s classic FW11b of the ‘80s, the Lotus 49 of the ‘60s right back to the Mercedes-Benz W25 Silver Arrow of the ‘30s when it was it was all about the most powerful engine on the lightest car with the fewest technical aids, being driven by the greatest driver.

Other key international race competitions, featuring all the real racecars, include Germany’s DTM and Australia’s V8 Supercars series. Both championships will feature the 2005 season, complete with car set-ups, practice sessions, and qualifying races.

For a change of pace and exhilaration, drivers can try the 4x4 Monster Series trucks with their huge, air-filled, 1.5m tires, 4WD steering and low-end torque that’ll let players pull wheelies from the start! Similar racing, on a smaller scale, is found when taking the Baja Beetles off road. In a white-knuckle ride across the dirt tracks, there are plenty of jumps that really send the Bajas flying!

There’s also plenty to show off technical racing, especially with F3, Formula BMW and the Formula Palmer Audi with its turbo boost function that delivers an extra whack of 50bph to the engine. Though use the turbo tactically to overtake or achieve a fastest lap time – it lasts just eight seconds and players can only use it eight times in a race.

With more than 40 championship circuits, drivers will be racing some of the greatest cars on the greatest tracks – sometimes taking them to an unusual location. How about taking a V8 car out of Australia and race its 5.0 Litre engine at the Nurburgring or taking a TVR from the British GT out east and racing it at the Shanghai International Circuit?

With so many different racing experiences and real racing cars, TOCA Race Driver 2006 is revving up for a release in February 2006 on PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. Get in the driving seat with more online at www.codemasters.com/tocaracedriver2006

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System: PS2 (Shown), X, PC
Dev: Codemasters
Pub: Codemasters
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1-2, 8 online
Review by Mike

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best