Toca Race Driver

Game On

Toca Race Driver

I’d been anticipating this game for some time, and although I’d been deterred by playing a very poor early version a few months ago I picked it up last Friday when it was released.

So far I have to say I’m pretty disappointed.

For a start, what can be more demotivating than to play a character who is a total asshole. He doesn’t just “have issues” – the behaviour of the lead character in the cut scenes just makes you want to hit the eject button, not take control of his destiny as a race driver.

Because of this I’ve been ignoring the “story line” pretty much – the characters are so one dimensional that it would be hard to achieve the same effect in a comic book. Add to this some suspect voice acting and it’s just a wonder why they bothered with this instead of concentrating on making a decent racing game.

It’s not as revolutionary as they might think it is and other than the clever front end, the cut scenes are nothing more than a distraction.

I cannot understand how developers fail time and time again to grasp what makes a decent racing game. Lovely graphics in GT3 were all very well, but it had the most awful AI for a full price game. At the other end of the scale there’s Rumble Racing – with AI that will fight you tooth and nail, but graphics that are PS1 and a half graphics rather than next gen, plus it has all the other arcadey pick-ups that aren’t much to do with racing.

Why is it so darn difficult to produce a game with decent graphics, decent AI and none of the trappings of arcade style pick ups and gimicks?

What is wrong with producing a serious race game, with all of the good things and none of the bollocks that seems to get thrown in by misguided designers who seem to think that because the human player is behind on lap one, his car should be able to go ten miles an hour faster down the straight than it would under normal conditions?

Race Driver does the above and it does it badly.

If a race is going to be too tough, just hang back a little and in no time at all you’ll have a virtual NOS kit kicking in at the start of the straight.

And as if that didn’t suck enough, drive cleanly, precisely and carefully for three laps only to wonder why it seems that your car is lacking a few horsepower, while the AI car you’d left half a lap behind by driving skilfully has caught up with it’s own virtual NOS kit and ends up nudging you off the track.

Why did Codemasters do this? I just don’t get it – it makes absolutely no sense to me.

Add to this the fact that the AI cars handle as if on rails around an oval circuit, while your car has to powerslide around every corner and it completely ruins what could have been a great game.

I don’t know if I’ll finish the game – if I find the receipt I’ll go and ask Game for an exchange… trouble is, what else is out at the moment worth getting?

All I can say in summary is that I’m now looking forward more than ever to F1 2002. I’ve played some early versions of that and it delivers a very decent racing game thus far – without cheating AI and all of the other stuff that should have been cut from Race driver during the two months it was delayed.