TOCA Race Driver PlayStation 2
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As a car pulls into the number three position on the grid, the crowd explodes. Ryan McKane, the meteoric newcomer who’s taking the TOCA Touring Car circuit by storm, leans from his window to acknowledge his adoring fans. Not yet World Champion, but far from the unknown test driver of just a few short months ago, Ryan’s career has its foot hard on the gas pedal, powering towards the chequered flag.
It’s going to take all your courage, all your skill and all your driving passion to take Ryan from rookie to a world-beating race driver, in this first-of-its-kind cinematic thrill-ride of a game. Power slide around the opposition, face your challenges head-on, cheer the successes and mourn the losses, but above all of these WIN.
Slam the pedal to the metal and guide the actions of our hero through the hairpins and chicanes of a career in global racing. The sport is glamorous; the stakes are high and winning is absolutely everything.
- 42 licensed touring & race cars including Mercedes CLK, Alfa Romeo GTV and Viper GTS.
- 38 international circuits recreated under licence including Bathurst, Hockenheim and Silverstone.
- 13 global Championships including official series: DTM from Germany, V8 Supercars from Australia and the Britsh Touring Car Championship.
- State-of-the-art car physics engine, tested for realism by professional race drivers.
- Involving and intriguing blockbuster storyline draws the player deep into the lives of the characters.
- Customisable car setup provides a uniquely true-to-life driving and performance experience.
- Standard-defining, real, visible damage, created using the crash test industry’s FEM system, affects the handling and drivability of vehicles.
- Genre-beating, bumper-to-bumper racing with up to 14 cars all gunning for position on track at once.
- Massive play and replay value - TOCA Race Driver features a massive 13 full World Championships.
- Soundtrack featuring many well known artists.
Jay takes a look under the bonnet of new PS2 racing fest TOCA Race Driver, and gets all oily...
Once again there’s a new racing game upon us. And once again it’s Gran Turismo that shall be used as a constant basis for comparison. You see TOCA Race Driver is another racing game that whilst not achieving the level of hype that Gran Turismo has managed to create around its oft-disappointing-self, still manages to out do the mighty GT in more than one area.
Let’s start from the beginning shall we? Upon booting up the game you’re treated to an FMV video that sets up the (deep breath) story (yes that’s right, the story) for the game that awaits you.
Intriguingly, TOCA Race Driver is host to a plot that runs alongside the races you participate in. You play the part of Ryan McKane, the small boy in the intro movie who watches as his father takes a tumble for the worst on the racetrack. Next to the small boy is his brother, Donnie. Both of these siblings follow the desire to copy their father’s career path and become race drivers – despite the obvious danger that’s been installed into the minds of both. At the point where you take control of Ryan, Donnie’s already a famed racer and you’re here to do your bit for the sport as well.
Cut scenes are surprisingly well put together, with the animations and motions of the characters as well as flowing speech providing a refreshing change to what we’ve come to expect. They don’t take over the progress either, with the scenes done and dusted long before you’d start to get annoyed with them.
And still before any racing has been entered into, there’s more to impress. The presentation and navigational simplicity of all the options is something of wonder. You start off in an office, with Ryan sitting there, feet up at his desk, sipping from a mug of something warm, presumably. There’s a filing cabinet that houses documents – when selected this allows you to toggle the game options. To the right there’s a door, which takes you to another room where you can indulge in some activities not strictly involved with the storyline. For instance, you can have a free run or a time trial race – you can even switch on the tellie and watch promo videos of upcoming games, like Colin McRae 3 for instance. It’s been seen in other games (including Medal of Honor) but it’s even more nicely done all the same.
We’ve talked about how well the cut scenes are animated and how easy it is to negotiate your way around the countless menus on offer, so what of the actual racing?
Thankfully TOCA Race Driver is well crafted in this department too. Cars are controlled by actual pressure sensitivity in the buttons which, before you moan, do not require heavy pressings to reach top speed - your thumbs are spared that hardship. The pressure sensitive control is perhaps more important when braking - for stabbing the brakes as hard as you can results in a painful locking of the car’s steering. This ensures you exit the strip of road and slide onto a plot of gravel, which allows your car to travel at what seems like the slowest speed known to man.
Handling works well, correct usage of the aforementioned buttons in conjunction with the steering can see you pull off some interesting moves without much time being spent practising at all. Subtle use of the handbrake to skid around corners when you sense the usual brake is not going to stop you in time is an easy and useful method.
Now here’s where Turismo comparisons come into play. As we know, there’s two main points that Gran Turismo can’t boast about - car damage and opponent AI. Both are disappointing to say the least, leaving an otherwise accomplished driving simulator without a soul or any kind of depth outside of the cars themselves. TOCA Race Driver addresses both of these issues. Damage is in abundance, with even the most seemingly minor knocks affecting some part of the car. Smashing into the back of a car in front, will see your bonnet crumple, hitting the side of the car against a barrier will result in a dent or even the door becoming loose and flapping around all over the place. Having someone shunt you from behind causes the bumper to hang off and with persistent rubbing, eventually come loose completely. Come the end of a race, it’s completely possible to be driving one of the most pitiful and sorry looking cars ever. In fact to do so is to wear a badge of pride and courage.
Your opponents make for some interesting playmates, often challenging you early on and forcing errors or just simply ramming you off the road – sometimes spoiling your chances for the rest of the race completely. It’s not done in an unfair way however; the cars are bound by the same rules as you are, so should you hit them in a similar manner they too could be lifted feet into the air and forced onto their backs.
Amidst all the fun and chaos are a few minor niggles, mainly to do with the graphics. Pop-up is not something we care to see these days, it may have been acceptable on the PSone and the Sega Saturn, but now we’ve come to expect and demand draw distances that reach to the very end of time itself. Not draw distances that miraculously build themselves just before you reach the point in question. It’s very annoying and sticks out like a sore thumb, cheapening the work that’s gone into the game elsewhere. Graphics in general, whilst functional and capable of displaying the large amounts of damage, are sub GT3 by a long way, which is a shame.
Minor gripes aside (sorry, but we just wouldn’t feel right not mentioning them) TOCA Race Driver is one of the largest and most impressive racing games to have come out in ages. Its competitive edge and satisfying amounts of damage will keep players glued to the screen for hours and hours until it’s all finished, and even then there’s the multiplayer element to enter into and lap times to constantly be improved upon. Trust us, once you get used to the way the game plays and the way to get the most from the cars, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated to spend that forty quid in the first place.
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