|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||TOCA 2 (Touring Cars)|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Distributor:||Codemasters||1-4 Player (link cable, Split Screen)|
|Game Type:||Racing Simulation||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||November 1998||Wheel, Analog, NeGcon, Dual Shock.|
Setting the Scene
Back for another instalment, TOCA 2 has reappeared in a bolder,
brighter, high resolution form. With more tracks, cars and options this 3D
racer is aimed directly at fans of racing simulations such as Gran
For those of you who have never heard of TOCA, it's the association that runs the British Touring Car championship. The beauty of this type of racing is that unlike Indycar or Formula 1, these cars are basically standard production models that could be driven on the streets by you or me.
Better still, its accepted that contact between cars is inevitable and while you won't get away with driving like you are in a destruction derby, you can quite happily nudge, push and rub your way past your opponents.
This game is a 3D racing SIMULATION.
The level of detail on each of the touring cars is nothing short of
stunning, especially when you consider that the game is running in the
Playstations 512*240 hi-resolution mode AND there are 16 cars on the track
at the same time. Each of the cars are fully decorated in their official
sponsors decals and if you look real carefully into the inside of the car
you can actually see the driver steering the car in real time..!
The tracks are admittedly quite open and the lack of many large trackside objects means that pop-up is not really an issue in this game.
The engine used for the cars looks to have been imported from Colin McRae Rally, in that the body of the car can be dented and distorted in the same way. A high speed front end collision will see glass spraying from the windshield, a bent front hood from which smoke bellows and a detached bumper left behind you on the track.
There are several in and out of car views all of which feature a number of different types of rear view mirror. The feeling of speed that is generated in all of these views is very impressive.
This game now looks so good that you cant help watch the full race replays over and over again..!
Sounds and Effects
At last, a racing game where the commentary actually enhances the
game rather than providing the usual annoying repetition. The only words
you hear are from your pit crew as they advise you of vital information
during the race.
The in-race effects are all better than average. The engine noise as you change up through the gears is brilliant, however it sounds a little lame when you hit top speed and you hear the same high pitched sound sample of your engine replayed over and over.
We heard quite a bit of criticism of the first TOCA game from
readers who were expecting it to be a pick-up-and-play racer. This is not
an ARCADE Racer, nor does it have an arcade mode in it. TOCA 2 has been
designed to be a Simulation and as such, you should be prepared to spend
more time off the tracks than on them until you learn the maximum speed
and braking points for each corner of each track.
At first play the cars seem almost undrivable, but take my word for it, after a few hours of racing you will see how perfectly it has been programmed to give the sensation of actually being in the car. You will quickly respond to the slight understeer around the tight bends, feel it getting very loose at high speeds and just like real racing you will end up using your brakes as much as your accelerator on some of the more challenging tracks.
As anyone who has ever driven a fast car will know to their cost, hitting the brakes hard when cornering at speed causes the weight to quickly transfer across the car and force it to kick out like a mule. Such is the quality of programming in this game that it seems to replicate all of these annoying real-life occurrences, forcing you to wait for it actually drive the car properly..!
So what could have been added to the original to make it worth purchasing this update..?
The number of tracks has been increased by nine.
A test track has been added which lets you set up the your car for optimum performance. This area is sub-divided into eight different circuits including a skin pan (for learning how to handle your car) and a high speed oval (for optimal speed settings).
Each qualifying session is now just a single "hot" lap making it much more tense and critical. Each championship race is now split over two sessions. The first is the "Sprint" race (usually consisting of about five laps). The second is the longer endurance race which has to include a pit stop for a change of tyres and maybe a quick repair to the car.
The weather can be variable throughout any given race, which means that you may well have to change your tyre compound at any time during the race. Rain on the track has an almost immediate effect on the amount of grip and the braking distances into corners that your tyres will have.
Dangerous driving will be first penalised with a warning before deducting points from your race score if you continue to smash into opponents cars at high speed. This feature has been tightened up quite a bit from the original, meaning that the computer gives you the benefit of the doubt far more that before.
To progress through to the next track in the championship, you must score at least 15 points which roughly translates to getting a top 4 position in each race. Cups are now awarded for a podium finish and the more cups you get the more cheats you will unlock in the game.
There are three difficulty levels - novice, standard and expert. The novice championship (6 tracks) is simple enough for most gamers to win on their very first attempt. Your opponents travel slow enough for you crash into a few barriers on each lap and still catch them up before the chequered flag. Standard (9 tracks) is a reasonable challenge (apart from the Brands Hatch track, which could take several attempts) and Expert mode (13 tracks) demands perfect driving lines, tactical pit-stops and cunning overtaking manoeuvres.
Before each race the cars can be fine tuned by altering the brake balance (front or rear biased), Downforce settings (high or low), Gear ratios (1st-6th) and suspension (4 different wheels). Each of these options generally have between 5 and 10 settings, which is enough to add to the game without making it stupidly complicated. As a bit of a tip for new drivers I would consider setting the brake bias 2/3 of the way to the front as this seems to make the car far more controllable under braking.
The largest addition to TOCA 2 is the support car championships. As anyone who as ever been to a race meeting will tell you, there is always a few extra events to keep the crowd excited before the main race. T2 has embraced the feeling of a complete day out at the races by including SEVEN additional support races.
Each support championship is raced over 4 tracks and 3 laps by 10 identical cars. Each of the cars is equal in performance making it a true challenge of driver skill.
The support races feature the following type of cars:
TVR Speed 12
None of the cars feature the amount of detail shown in the Touring Cars, but each feel very different to race, meaning that you will need to re-learn the braking points on each track all over again.
There are several different modes of play which compliment the championship option nicely:
The CHALLENGE mode is an against the clock race around a number of tracks, with the idea being to get to the checkpoints before the timer runs out.
SINGLE RACE allows you to race on any of the tracks that you have previously unlocked in Championship mode.
TIME TRIAL gives you the option of learning each of the tracks, without the interference of other cars.
For those of you who enjoy racing your friends you will be delighted to know that they have included a two player SPLIT SCREEN or four player LINK UP mode. Better still, two of you can even race against the computer drivers as well as your mates well done Codemasters..!
Two players can also enter the championship together in the same race team and help each other to win the constructors championship, while battling to win the drivers championship.
Value for Money
There is so many different options within this game and so many little extra special cheat modes for you to unlock, that you will be playing this for weeks and weeks.
this is not an arcade racer
it's a SIMULATION
After playing this game for a week, the only slight niggles I had about this game were the highly sensitive nature of the analog control (it kind of made the cars seem like they were on ice at times and so I reverted back to the good old fashioned button pressing method) and the fact that on-screen messages often distracted you at vital points on the track.
Other than that this game is right up there with the best of the rest.