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TOCA Touring Car Championship
Developer Codemasters Options
Distributer Codemasters 1-2 Player
Game Type Racing Memory Card
Review Date September 1998 Analog Compatible
Screenshot No.1
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Setting the Scene
Another racing game for the Playstation? Surely every conceivable four wheel track event is already available on Playstation format? Not quite. TOCA is the official motor sport game of the all action, hard hitting 1997 RAC Autotrader Touring Car Championship. Furthermore it comes from Codemasters, the company that has already provided us with two stunning titles this year in the form of Jonah Lomu Rugby and Micro Machines V3.

With these classics on your CV, this has to be worth checking out. Furthermore, it's about to go Platinum on PAL format.

TOCA Touring Car Championship recreates the white-knuckle drive of real Touring Car racing featuring this years real cars, real teams, real drivers and all the authentic Championship tracks that make up the 1997 racing season.

TOCA is set to be the definitive motor sport title for home machines boasting the best car physics with suspension dynamics, wheel spin, 360 crashes, varied traction, and realistic car handling any motor sport game ever created.

The quality of the graphics are almost arcade perfect. However, there are still a few minor glitches in there every now and again, but not to the degree that would distract you while racing. The backgrounds have that ever so slight grainy appearance to them while the pop-up has been kept to a minimum due to the intelligent balance between frame rate and redraw. Occasionally a row of trees may suddenly appear on the horizon but generally I felt quite comfortable with the viewing distance.

TOCA ain't no Destruction Derby but there are many similarities in the vehicle department. The cars are highly detailed and susceptible to a few knocks and bumps. Throughout the entire race vehicles are squeezing and shoving their way through the pack with every contact blemishing the once immaculate paintwork. Collisions look truly spectacular as the cars can actually flip over and spin in the air showing highly detailed undersides and on landing will shower the track with 'shrapnel'. A head on smash will result in your bonnet or hood flying through the air, even the rear brake and headlights can be wrecked. If you lose it on a bend your car will rock back and forth on it's suspension before performing a 360° pirouette followed by an uncontrollable wheelspin that leaves burning rubber engraved in the track surface.

TOCA features four camera views including a "Head Cam" where the view is from inside the driver's helmet which judders with G-force of the car, a full screen in-car view, an angle that glances over the top of the car and a high/behind view which is ideal for seeing the track ahead.

Every minute detail has been catered for from the road markings to the impressive surrounding scenery. Run-offs have been closed off with a line of traffic cones which can be sent hurtling down the track while various free standing marker boards will shatter on contact.

The weather conditions are not too bad either with climates ranging from sunny, cloudy, raining, fog bound, snowing and stormy. When the weather turns for the worse dark, dense clouds gather overhead and forks of lightening streak across the sky.

Sounds and Effects
At the start of the race, when all sixteen cars are flooring it off the line-up, the sounds are deafening but lack that real meaty growl. Are these electric cars? I found this slightly disappointing as the rest of the sound effects are excellent. You are treated to the sounds of squeaking springs as your car squeezes down on the suspension and the crunching of gravel and dirt as your tires make contact. The cars even display a wonderfully realistic crunching and crashing sound as you flip or smash into another vehicle.

The music tracks refrains from being the usual heavy rock thrash that normally accompanies these type of games and in fact is a selection of catchy techno tunes. Pre-race commentary gives a run down on the events of the day.

TOCA Touring Car Championship offers many race options including the full season Championship, single races, as well as a Time Trial option supporting one or 2 players simultaneously. Players can get behind the wheel of eight high-performance road cars including the Peugeot 406, Renault Laguna, Audi A4, Volvo S40, Vauxhall Vectra, Ford Mondeo, Honda Accord, and Nissan Primera, all accurately modelled from the real vehicles. In Championship mode you can name your driver to race against the likes of Menu, Plato and Tarquini.

Before each race you must take part in a qualifying session to determine your position on the starting grid. From a rolling start you have three laps to clock up your best lap time. Keeping up with the pace is vital as other drivers are also out on the track at the same time.

Each track is accurately modelled from (Ordnance Survey Solution Centre) landscape data and is totally authentic to the actual circuits. The first venue of the season is Donington Park where you have two races to amass a given number of points which will qualify you for the next venue. This system actually works quite well as an unforced error in the first race could be costly but you never give up because you know that you always have another race to set the record straight. If, for instance, you finish a lowly tenth position in the first race you will be informed that nothing less than second place will be required in your second outing. If you fail then there is nobody to blame but yourself. Nice idea.

The opening straight is chaotic with every car challenging for the correct racing line to enter the first corner. If you see a gap, go for it but be prepared for a bumpy ride as the driver that you cut in front of will try every trick in the book to claim his position back. Easing you off the track is a favorite move but don't be alarmed if the earth starts moving as your opponent will sometimes try to pass straight through you. The tension on the first lap is electric but if you come through unscathed then a session of skillful driving should now see you through the eighteen lap race.

As mentioned earlier handling the cars takes a little getting use to. You actually have to DRIVE THE CAR PROPERLY, accelerate on the straights and brake before entering a corner. If you fail to brake in time then no power on earth is going to get you round that corner and you might as well brace yourself for impact with one of the barriers. If you stray onto the grass you must slowly crawl back towards the track. Over accelerate and your car will design some interesting crop circles but valuable time will be lost. Gravel pits are well positioned to avoid you from taking short cuts across chicanes and if you are unfortunate enough to end up in the middle of one of these traps then make sure you have brought along a tow rope.

There are sixteen races in a season and if you collect enough points at Donington Park you will be visiting Silverstone International, Thruxton, Brands Hatch Indy, Oulton Park, Croft, Knockhill and Snetterton.

TOCA Touring Car Championship also includes a two-player split screen mode that is just as fast paced and graphically gorgeous as the single player mode. Unfortunately there are no CPU vehicles in this mode so you may have to implement the catch-up option to keep the race interesting.

Value for Money
The game features accurate track designs, a good selection of vehicles and the gradually increasing difficulty level will require some serious skill to if you are to go all the way in this one. The graphics, animations and sounds ooze quality and fit perfectly into the game. Add to this the fact that the game is Analog compatible and includes a two-player mode then you have yourself a real winner.

GRAPHICS: Brilliant When I first picked up TOCA I was slightly disappointed at the speed of the vehicles but then again these are touring cars and not your souped up Formula 1 beasts. To beat this game you need to apply real driving skills, sensible breaking distances and a great amount of bottle in the opening straight.
It felt quite strange taking a touring car for a spin around Silverstone but each of the racing venues are accurately represented from the positioning of grandstands to the bumps on the road.
A very competent racing package.
SOUND: Average
VALUE: Very Good
GRAPHICS: Good With so many racing games now available for the playstation, I find it amazing that Codemasters have managed to produce something that still feels new and quite different from the rest of the pack - the style of driving needed to play this game is very different from V-Rally, F1-97 and even Rage Racer.

Having watched a lot of Touring car racing down at Donnington (one of the tracks), its its also fair to say that the tracks are as close to the originals as they could possibly have been.

Even though this game runs far slower than some of its counterparts, it still manages to capture both the style and spirit of this sport perfectly.
VALUE: Brilliant
Barney Worrall
GRAPHICS: It is both difficult and unfair to judge against F1 '97 because, as in real life, the formulae are completely different. The art of open wheel racing means it's okay to get close, catch a draft and pass but DO NOT TOUCH. In the super tourers and other tin-lid categories you may rub, scrape, push and pull as long as you don't crunch and this is faithfully reproduced in TOCA with a warning for over-zealous behavior, mostly braking too late and hitting opponents from behind (TOO hard) which can lead to a deduction in points - probably the best way to stop you doing it.
I hate to mark games out of one hundred because all reasonable games rate 90-95 and you don't get a perspective, but if F1 '97 & V-Rally got 91%, this must rate a 95, although this might be a flattering score.

Barney Worrall is a 29-year old consultant for ABC News and a motor racing fanatic. For an in-depth opinion of TOCA Touring Car Championship check out his Readers Review in the Members section.

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