TOCA Race Driver
The original TOCA and it's sequel were big hits on both the PC and the Playstation. Along with the Colin McRae Rally series they made Codemasters a firm favourite with driving game fans. For well over a year now the games press has been filled with news of sequels to both games. The third in the TOCA series is now finally here and the series has taken a different turn with it. This time the developers have decided to wrap a story around the racing. Of course this can work if carried out correctly but it can also stifle the gameplay somewhat. In the case of TOCA Race Driver I think the end result has ended up being somewhere in between those two extremes.
Of course the story mode for deaf gamers is going to rely on there being subtitles and because there aren't any, the whole thing collapses. The introduction sets the scene to the game but without subtitles it's useless, which is a shame. Things like after race cutscenes where a driver you may have smashed into during the race, walks up to you and verbally abuses you, are not subtitled. Even during the races there are radio transmissions that are not subtitled. It is these different elements that the developers have added that, through the omission of subtitles, are missing.
Basically the story follows the career of Ryan McKane. Initially you'll be at the bottom of the TOCA ladder and you'll have to fight your way to the top by meeting a series of ever increasing challenges. There are over 40 cars and over 30 racing circuits in the game. There are even around a dozen championships to take part in. As well as the career mode there's time trial mode and upto 4-player multiplayer modes. In fact it is fair to say that in terms of options, it's excellent.
One disappointment for me though is that the control of the car doesn't feel right. It's difficult to explain but compared to previous TOCA titles the steering feels a bit light and this leads to throwing races away all too often. It's disappointing to say this but it's definitely more arcade than simulation. The car physics don't feel right and this is coupled with a rather poor force feedback that doesn't even rumble when you leave the track most of the time.
Visually the game is also disappointing. Pop-up and cardboard cut-out spectators are the real culprits on this account. The framerate whilst good for the most part, does occasionally take a dip and whilst it doesn't affect the handling it is disappointing. The replays look good but it's a shame that the in game graphics don't at least equal those of the GT3 saying that that particular title is now over a year old. The damage models are very good though, something that GT3 would have been a lot better for, and your control of the car deteriorates with damage taken to the body and wheels.
All is not lost though and TOCA Race Driver is still one of the better titles in it's genre on the PS2. It's just that more was expected this time around given the success of the previous two games. The lack of subtitles for the deaf gamer is also disappointing. Let's hope that next time they remember to include them.
Overall Game Rating: 6.9/10 Disappointing is perhaps the best way to sum up TOCA Race Driver, after all the press build up we were expecting so much more.
Deaf Gamers comment: No subtitles anywhere. The nature of the game means that you can still get enjoyment from the title but it is disappointing that given the emphasis on the story that subtitles were not used.