Final Glimpse: What's around the corner? *SPLAT* Oh?a tree.
Though the game has been available for a good while now on the Xbox, Codemasters is giving PlayStation 2 gamers a chance to check out one of the better racing games on Microsoft's console, in the form of TOCA Race Driver 2. A quasi-sequel to the decently received Pro Race Driver, TOCA pushes the term of simulation to a whole new level that maybe not even Gran Turismo has bothered to go with. And never fear of a watered-down port to the PS2 ? with online play, nice graphics, tons of cars, and the infamously challenging gameplay, this is far from a half-assed port from early looks. Due early next month and for an attractive price of $30, TOCA Race Driver 2 should be a great addition to the PS2's racing library and give gearheads something to do in the wait for the big kahuna in Gran Turismo 4.
Like its predecessor, TOCA Race Driver 2's main gameplay revolves around a Story mode. But in this case, you're the focus, as you'll be guided by the stereotypical race manager as you struggle to the top with rivals, the media, and any other possible distractions on the way. The story even has some branching paths as you choose different events at certain points, which is pretty cool. It all leads to the same place but you can take different roads to get there. It's not a particularly short career either, with plenty of ladders to climb on the way to success. The rest of the game is a ?simulator' where you play exhibition races, time trials, and go online with your PS2 for some racing action. Alas, I highly doubt Codemasters will allow for any class of cars to race any track ? likely you'll have the same problem of being stuck with certain cars on certain tracks, which is a bit of a drag. Online play hopefully will be okay, with broadband only and voice support of some kind (likely the Burnout 3 ?press a button to talk' system though).
While Pro Race Driver had its moments of falling into arcade-land, TOCA 2 is a much more realistic racer, as controlling them requires precision or mistakes will happen. Of course, the full damage model returns, meaning you can mess your car up badly and it affects performance or totally removes you from a race; hopefully this won't be reduced on the less-powerful PS2, as it was quite cool though somewhat faked on Xbox with pretty tricks. There's not a whole lot of customization, but there's a ton of car classes to race, from standard racers, F1 cars, GP vehicles, rally vehicles for the odd rally race (that compares to Codemasters' own Colin McRae series) and even the odd semi-truck or two to make up for this. That's the best part of TOCA 2: variety in vehicles really makes things different even if you can't race a Mercedes touring car against a Mack Truck.
One hopes that all will remain from the Xbox game, including the incredible feeling of fear. Though passed now by the ?too fast for those lacking the Force' speed of Burnout 3, TOCA 2 is famous for being a bit hairy on the track, and at times frightening when you don't know what's around the corner, or you just can't slow down fast enough. Everything controls and moves so sharply, but reflexes can be tested right away. It may be a sim, but TOCA has the speed of an arcade racer, and the same element of fear that the best bring out. When you climb a hill and have no idea what's on the other side, be it cars, a huge curve leading off into a pile of tires, or a nasty hairpin that could cost you a race ? that's what makes TOCA great. Also hope that they will not dumb-down the challenge ? while doable, TOCA had a level of challenge not seen in a while in terms of realistic racers. While perfection is not required?it's recommended.