TOCA Race Driver 2
TOCA Race Driver 2: The Ultimate Racing Simulator - PS2 Review
As mentioned the cars all handle very much as you would expect the real life counterparts to handle. When you start pushing the cars in TOCA 2 the car will look like it is being pushed. The tail will start to creep away and snap very quickly if you give it just a little bit more juice that required. Head into a corner a little fast and the car will under-steer until you can bring the car back under control. The great part about TOCA is that everything happens like it should, which means you have complete control of virtually every single car you drive.
As everyone will know TOCA features damage modelling. This can be slightly disappointing at times you can hit an object very hard and find nothing has been broken. Then you have the reverse effect where you car can become crumpled beyond recognition with just a little tap. One part of the damage modelling that is fairly consistent it when you slide sideways on to another car going round a corner. This is always a very easy way to overtake in most vehicles and usually the car will depart from the coming together without a scratch. However, if you try this manoeuvre but hit a competitor's car on a right angle, you will find that instead of hurtling off the track you will have overtaken several cars and left the poor guy you hit fumbling around for grip. This is a very cheap way to gain places and it can ruin the race by making things a little easy. Even though the physics and damage modelling are not perfect everything looks very nice, (even when cars have had a rough race) and the racing is great entertainment.
TOCA Race Driver 2 features a story mode just like its predecessor, but this time around I prefer the format, more driving and less in the way of FMV clips telling the story. Everything in the story is kept minimal, you have a mechanic named Scotty, you drive in many forms of cars and teams, a lady shows up and promises to earn you money and complete in big races, you take part in lots more racing and find a couple of rivals along the way. Don't get me wrong there are still quite a lot of cut scenes but they are on the whole kept short and sweet.
When you enter a championship (you usually have a choice of two) you will be given a target or an objective to complete which usually consists of finishing on the podium, finishing within a few places of another team or just to earn a certain amount of money from the championship. Most objectives are pretty easy, even when you think you might not make an objective after the first race things seem to fall into place. This is usually because in the early stage of the game the same driver very rarely wins consecutive races. This does change later in the game but most races don't really pose a real challenge, especially if you keep everything nice and tidy on the track.
The career mode is backbone of the game but you can also take part in free races, time trails and play online. The one thing that might confuse when you play one of these options, only certain cars can compete on certain tracks, which is a bit of a pain but it isn't really a problem. Some people may not even notice this as you don't actually pick the car you want to drive, you have to pick the championship you want to compete in. So if you choose to compete in Formula Ford championship you will only be able to race on the tracks within that championship. If you feel like dabbling in the set up of cars you can do this in the non career modes, which is a nice option should you feel the need to mess around with tyre choices, gearbox ratios etc.
The multiplayer options are online and offline. Obviously the online version is far more fun as you can have up to eight players racing at once. The rating system for the online system is very original. When you first play online you will start with 1500 points and depending on your performance your points will either increase or decrease. So it does take a few races to find your own level but after this you will know where you stand. Another good thing to report is that the online mode seems to work very well and with no lag even with the full compliment of eights players on the track at one time.
Compare to the first TOCA Race Driver the graphics have been greatly improved, especially the car models. The cars now have a shiny look to them and the edges of the body work are relatively smooth, just showing very small pixels if you look hard enough. The tracks are also very nice but the scenery can look a bit clean and sterile. The crowds and some of the background images can look very rough, especially when you are parked up next to them. When you are flying past at speed you don't really notice or pay any attention to them. The game runs at 60 frames per second and while playing TOCA 2 I have had no experience of slow down what so ever.
There isn't really much music in TOCA 2 apart from in the menu screens, the rest of the sound comes in the form of screaming engines, squealing tyres and the crunching of bodywork. All of which sound very convincing. The voice acting has improved in TOCA 2, there are a couple of dodgy moments but on the whole everything is less cheesy than before.
TOCA Race Drive 2 is another quality racing game for the Playstation 2. If you own this game on another console don't go out and buy it on the PS2 though, there is no point. All I can say is Playstation 2 has a good number of quality racing games and GT4 will be out soon. However I TOCA 2 is quite a different experience to the GT series, so if you fancy another racing game this one comes highly recommended.