First look: Pro Race Driver PS2

After the successful TOCA Touring Car series on the PlayStation, Codemasters is now readying for the shift to next-generation platforms.

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Codemasters announced the development of Pro Race Driver for the PS2, PC, and "other next-generation platforms" today. Previous games based on the TOCA license have sold more than 3.5 million games worldwide, so it doesn't come as a surprise that the company is building on the success. While the previous games have been only about racing, Pro Race Driver in the US will see the inclusion of a more important plot-driven narrative with both on- and off-circuit developments.

"It's no longer sufficient or exciting to deliver a new edition of a best-selling franchise that just re-creates previous editions on a new format. We have got to move on from the expectation that a sequel can be justified by simply adding more cars and tracks," said Gavin Raeburn, studio head and producer of Codemasters' previous TOCA games. "With Pro Race Driver, we want to move the whole racing genre forward by delivering a very personal experience that the gamer can passionately connect with."

Players will take the role of Ryan McKane, who will interact with family members, racing colleagues, managers, and the like. It will be a fictional episodic story set in a professional global championship. The goal is to rise from the ranks of a test driver to world champion.

The meat of the Pro Race Driver experience is the sublime racing action, provided by an all-new physics and AI system that takes full advantage of the power of next-generation platforms. Complete with its unique finite element modeling (FEM) damage system, the high-impact collisions form an important part of the whole experience. The FEM damage model simulates the deformation of a car's structure over the duration of an impact, calculating how both the internal structure and outer bodywork of cars twist and break. This physics-based approach gives unparalleled realism with different impact results every time, depending on the exact conditions of the crash.

Michael Hayes, Codemasters' marketing director, commented, "The character element to the game is a real way for the player to connect with the racing experience. It doesn't take over the game, and it enhances the atmosphere, building tension and settings for each race. While the racing game category is hugely competitive, Codemasters' reputation as one of the world's leading driving game developers ensures that Pro Race Driver will be one of the most anticipated and successful multiformat racing titles of next year."

The game is scheduled to appear sometime in 2002. Versions for the PC, PS2, and other next-generation consoles will be announced at a later date. In Europe, the game is named TOCA Race Driver.

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