TOCA Race Driver (Xbox Live version) Xbox
Developed by Codemasters
Released: Out Now
It's been a while now since we looked at TOCA Race Driver for both PC and PlayStation 2. The game was a solid addition to the TOCA series but with the emphasis being on a story based game and with there being no subtitles, it did spoil the experience for deaf gamers. There was also a Xbox version of the game which simply offered the same game as the PlayStation 2 version with the added ability of being able to have more cars on the track at any one time. With the establishment of Xbox Live though, Codemasters have decided to redo the Xbox version and this time it includes full Xbox Live support.
The single player game is still disappointing for deaf gamers and this version still doesn't offer any subtitles. The introduction sets the scene to the game but without subtitles it's not worth much for deaf gamers. 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 for deaf gamers. Still you can enjoy the races even if you do miss out on the story and I expect those of you who are interested in this version will be after the multiplayer side of things anyway.
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 42 cars and 38 racing circuits in the game. There are even around a dozen championships to take part in. As well as the career mode there's a time trial mode, free race mode and in regards to multiplayer races you can now have system link Xbox Live races.
The Xbox Live options are the usual quick match, optimatch and you also have the ability to create a race with your own parameters, such as the weather, the type of car, the car handling etc. You can choose between 2- 8 participants and choose whether you the race is to be private or open to anyone. It's also worth noting that there is no need to unlock the better cars in Xbox Live mode as they are automatically unlocked to enable you to enjoy the Xbox Live experience right out of the box. The races that I've managed to take part in have been enjoyable but one problem is that there doesn't seem to be too many people playing the game. I've wasted several hours attempting to get into races but could find no opposition. I suppose TOCA has gone up against stiff opposition from the likes of Project Gotham Racing 2. I just hope more people will give TOCA Race Driver a go because it can be very enjoyable online. If you're interested in system link races you'll be pleased to know that 12 players (compared to only 8 in PGR 2) are supported, which should make this a good title at those Xbox LAN parties.
Graphically the Xbox version has much improved on the PlayStation 2 version. In fact I'd go as far to say it's almost as good as the PC version although the ability to run the PC version at higher resolutions certainly gives it an edge. The framerate is also superb and never waivers in the slightest. It can dip in the replays though but to be honest this is true of the PC version also and it doesn't affect the gameplay at all. The few races that I've had on Live have also been smooth and I've experienced no lag but this will depend on the quality of yours and your opponents connection speeds.
Whilst the single-player game is still unsubtitled, this version is all about bringing the TOCA experience to Xbox Live (and vice versa of course) and it certainly succeeds. It does need more people to take part though as attempting to have a quick race can often be a test of patience, which is a shame because the races can be enjoyable. The addition of a 12 player system link mode should also make the game a must for those Xbox LAN parties too.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
The best TOCA Race Driver to date. If you haven't yet purchased the game for Xbox make sure you pick up this Xbox Live version (the original Xbox version is still sold at £40 which is £10 dearer than this online enhanced version).
The single player game is still not subtitled but at least you can enjoy the races in both single and now online modes.