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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.