TOCA Race Driver - PS2

Also known as: DTM Race Driver', 'Pro Race Driver', 'TOCA Race Driver Live

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Also for: PC, Xbox
Viewed: 3D First-person / Third-person Genre:
Racing: Car
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Codemasters Soft. Co.: Codemasters
Publishers: Codemasters (GB/US/DE)
Released: 23 Aug 2002 (GB)
Unknown (US/DE)
Ratings: 11+
Accessories: Memory Card, Steering Wheel
Features: Vibration Function Compatible, Analogue Control Compatible: analogue sticks only, Multitap adaptable


Well, it's finally here, the driving game that seems to have taken an age to arrive, and some, like your author, got a little dizzy with excitement when it landed in our collective lap. Your PS2 finally gets the racer it deserves with Toca Race Driver.

After a somewhat downbeat scene-setting introduction, the first chapter introduces the main players in Toca Race Driver, including the man behind the wheel, Ryan McKane. That downbeat feeling we experienced only a few moments before (hey, no spoilers!) was replaced with a huge grin as soon as McKane went for a spin around Monza for a test drive. Iggy and the Stooges? 'Search and Destroy'? All hail Codemasters - Genius at the record player.

But we're jumping the gun. There's more to Toca Race Driver than high-powered saloon cars and a tasty soundtrack (Ash, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Thin Lizzy are also present, BTW). Much has been made of the game's storyline and the role-playing element therein. Well, yes there is a storyline, and thankfully it's not too cheesy. The role-playing element? You do assume the identity of Ryan McKane, but it's hardly the stuff of Final Fantasy. There are cut-scenes aplenty to illustrate what's happening to Ryan, and how you conduct yourself on the racetrack is reflected in these scenes. It's all very interesting to see where it leads. However, all cut-scenes eventually lead to the racetrack, and this, dear reader, is where the real action takes place.

After your initial test drive, and assuming you haven't made a complete mess of it, you will be offered a drive with one team, just to get your career started. Perform well and you'll receive a handful of offers from various teams when the initial series of races is over. It's up to you to choose which team you sign with from here on in. But one thing is certain: a solo test drive is simple stuff compared to the racing madness that comes with thirteen other cars bumping and barging their way around the track. The computer AI has been cranked up a notch or two for Toca Race Driver: torment a particular car and driver while racing and they'll come right back at you, both in the race and in the post-event cut-scene, if you've been really bad.

Once you're comfortable with the gameplay, and that unique Toca handling that Codemasters fans have come to love so much, it's time to get in deep with Ryan McKane and the whole career experience. In the main menu, there are two main screens - Driver HQ, which controls all the game options relating to Ryan's career, and the Free Time screen, which contains the other game mode options, such as Free Race, Multiplayer and Time Trial.

Your career as a race driver is split into three levels. The Super Sports Tier, the Power Racing Tier and the World Championship. Players must earn 132 points to progress from Super Sports Tier to the Power Racing Tier, 162 points to progress from the Power Racing Tier to the World Championship and then win the World Championship.

At the end of each championship, if you finish in a top three position, you will receive a challenge from a Pro Race Driver - one of the top drivers you'll race against during a season. This is a head-to-head race, and by beating the Pro Race Driver, you will win their car, which will then be available to be played from in all non-career game modes.

On completion of the World Championship, and once the player earns $8,000,000, a secret championship is unlocked. The Elite championship is made up of the Pro Race Driver cars and is made up of two classes, each containing differently powered cars.

Codemasters have not disappointed with Toca Race Driver. Actually, that's a huge understatement. Toca Race Driver is a masterclass in modern racing games. Every bit as deep as the likes of GT3, and with the added bonus of cars that suffer real damage, the return of the Toca series deserves the loudest of fanfares. Anyone for another chorus of 'Search and Destroy'?

Toca Race Driver rocks with raw power. Do not pass this game by.