TOCA 3 boasts an awesome variety of racing disciplines, and it backs that boast up with some really excellent driving mechanics.
- 70 licensed cars, 80 licensed tracks, and more than 35 disciplines of racing
- two distinct career modes that should keep you busy for a while
- Great graphics and sound
- Online play is nicely customizable, and a lot of fun
- The amount of realism in the damage modeling, physics, and opposing AI is delightful.
- Amount of precision required in some races can get frustrating
- Online game browser could have used a little more work
- Some of the ancillary visual components aren't so great.
Codemasters' TOCA Race Driver series has always been about two things: solid, simulation-based driving, and an insane amount of racing variety. Unlike most other racers out there, TOCA skips the usual methodology of sticking to one main type of racing and overloading the package with a ton of licensed cars. Certainly TOCA does have quite a few licensed vehicles, but they're spread across such a wide assortment of racing disciplines that at times it seems like no two races are ever alike. TOCA Race Driver 3 is the latest game in the series, and it's every bit as good as its predecessors, if not markedly better. The variety of race types has grown significantly, the driving remains a great deal of fun, and the game still presents itself extremely well.
TOCA 3 boasts more than 35 different types of racing, including open wheel, Indy cars, stock cars, GT, historic, off-road, rally, supertrucks, sprint cars, touring cars, monster trucks, and go-karts, among others. While this everything-to-everyone approach might seem like it would lead to a profoundly scattershot experience, it doesn't, because TOCA 3 knows exactly how to handle its business. No one discipline feels neglected in any way, whether it's handling, artificial intelligence, or visuals. But we'll get to all that stuff in a bit. You'll find quite a bit of car variety, with around 70 licensed vehicles in the game. Some races require one specific car type, meaning you won't get your choice in vehicles, but others offer multiple available cars. You can't go crazy and race a Formula Palmer Audi against a monster truck or anything like that, but really, you shouldn't be able to. TOCA 3 is first and foremost a simulation racer, so it maintains some strict guidelines for conduct.
From the moment you boot up the game, you're thrown directly into the action. Once you've created your profile, you actually launch directly into the middle of a race, where you'll start out behind and need to catch up. On the radio, a Scottish gentleman feeds you directions on how best to control your vehicle. Once you've finished the race, you're treated to a cutscene where your Scottish mechanic introduces himself and tells you how things work around there. Mainly, he talks about how true racers exude patience and control at all times. That's good advice, given the way TOCA 3 plays. Sticking to your racing lines and careful driving are rewarded practices, while frequent bumping and cutting corners are often penalized, both with specifically flagged race penalties, and also with what happens to your car when you drive on the infield too much or bump around like a crazy person.
TOCA 3 has some really excellent damage effects, specifically in regards to what damage does to your car, like when you go crashing into a wall at high speeds. For example, your transmission might get jacked up, causing you to shift gears at a slower, more erratic rate; your wheel alignment might go all higgledy-piggledy, forcing you to veer off to one direction or another if you don't hold the steering wheel tight; and your engine might just cut out altogether. Even simply driving onto the infield shows noticeable problems, as your tires start to cool down and collect all kinds of gunk. The visual representations of this damage vary in quality. Open-wheel racers tend to show the physical damage to the car better than most other cars, but if you wreck hard enough, you'll see some nice-looking damage to just about any vehicle.
The actual handling of the cars varies wildly between classes, though one thing remains constant: The faster the car, the more careful you'll need to be. There are 80 different worldwide tracks featured in TOCA 3, and the one thing they all have in common (save for the pure oval racing courses) is that they tend to feature a lot of tight turns that require precise driving to navigate. Even the dirt tracks and similarly offbeat courses need a bit of precision, lest you start sliding all over the place and bust up your car. Watching for turns is key; though, you'll likely experience a fair bit of trial and error with each track as you start to get used to its various curves. The aggressive opponent AI will often take advantage of your mistakes. On normal difficulty, it's not so hard to get back to a decent finishing position if you slide out or wreck, but on hard, it's damn near an impossibility. Fortunately, you can restart any race at any time, and while restarting races over and over again might be somewhat frustrating after awhile, it's a fair bit better than having to complete a race you know you can't win.
Above all else, racing in TOCA 3 just feels authentic. Sometimes cars might feel a bit floatier than they would seem like they ought to in a realistic scenario, and there are times where your car will magically survive wicked looking crashes with little more than cosmetic damage, but generally the feel of the car jibes with the terrain it's driving on, the speed you're traveling at, and most other mitigating factors. The opponent AI also works extremely realistically. They'll stick to their racing lines as steadfastly as they can, but if a wreck occurs right in front of them, they'll do their best to veer out of the way and get back ontrack. You'll see opponents overtake one another, occasionally wreck themselves, and generally behave as a real racer should. On normal difficulty, they do tend to take turns a bit too conservatively, which makes it much easier for you to roll up and overtake a bunch of racers at once. But on hard difficulty, that behavior pretty much goes away entirely.
- Player Reviews: 17
- Game Universe:
- Pro Race Driver (PC, PS2, XBOX),
- TOCA Race Driver 2 (XBOX, PC, PS2, PSP),
- TOCA Race Driver 3 (PSP, PC, XBOX, PS2, MAC),
- Touring Car Challenge (PC, AMI),
- TOCA World Touring Cars (GBA),
- Race Driver 2006 (PSP),
- TOCA Race Driver 2 with Colin McRae Rally 04 (XBOX),
- TOCA Touring Car Championship (GBC),
- Jarrett & Labonte Stock Car Racing (PS),
- TOCA Championship Racing (PS)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
12 Players Online