ToCA Race Driver 3 Review for Xbox

On: XboxPCPS2
Variety is the spice of life
Variety is the spice of life

Variety is the spice of life

Codemasters certainly isn't afraid to go head-to-head with the big boys. The ToCA Race Driver series is now onto its third iteration and while the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport have been making all the headlines, ToCA has been gathering quite a fan base. Not content with the huge selection of vehicles and race types from Race Driver 2, The Race Driver team have gone to town with their latest game, creating one of the most complete racing packages ever to grace consoles and PC.

Over the course of the game you'll get to take part in over 35 motorsports, spanning more than 100 real championships. These are split into six main categories: Open-Wheel, Touring Cars, Oval, Classics, Off Road and Rally, and GT. If you thought you'd be limited to traditional race cars you better think again, as you'll get to drive karts and SuperTrucks, take part in the US Dirt series and the Nissan Off-Road Challenge, and even race in a BMW Williams F1 car. And that isn't even half of it. To say the package is impressive is an understatement.

If you're familiar with previous games in the Race Driver series, the World Tour is a story mode of sorts, seeing you move from one racing discipline to the next, with your ever present team manager Rick on hand to tell you what the thinks after each race. Due to the nature of the World Tour, jumping from karting to dirt racing to monster trucks, it's incredibly entertaining. It might not be for everyone as it doesn't really let you hone your skills at one particular discipline, but for everyone who grows tired of doing the same thing over and over, it's a great way to enjoy most of what ToCA Race Driver 3 offers.

'Codemasters has done it again. Race Driver 3 is the best game in the series.'

If you want a more focussed experience you can start a Pro Career in one of eight racing disciplines. Each championship is tackled in a realistic manner, with full race rules and flags in operation. The Pro Career Championships certainly aren't for casual race fans, requiring knowledge of race rules and a good deal of racing skill. If you're not 100 per cent in the zone, the Pro Career will prove to be a frustrating experience, with flags being waved every few seconds and time penalties being issued before you've had a chance to get into second gear. It's worth it though, making victory all the sweeter. Each Pro Career championship can be tackled in normal and hard difficulty, and trophies earned unlock bonus content. Additional trophies can be earned by setting fastest laps and by playing online.

In Pro Career championships, Time Trial and Free Race modes you're able to tune your vehicles if you so wish. This certainly isn't essential to your success, but tweaking things can improve lap times and give you an edge over your opponents. Adjustments can be made to downforce, transmission, anti roll, tyre compound, tyre profile, break bias, ride height, suspension, and toe and camber. There's plenty to get your hands dirty with if you fancy yourself as a bit of a mechanic, but novices would be best advised to give tuning a wide berth. Certain championships also let you upgrade your vehicle. With a whole slew of upgrades on offer, it's about as deep as you want it to be.

It might not look this good, but it's impressive nonetheless

It might not look this good, but it's impressive nonetheless

While racing can be made incredibly tricky by turning Pro Simulation on, there's something in ToCA Race Driver 3 for almost all racing fans. Hardcore simulation fans will appreciate the level of detail in each vehicle's driving model and see how small changes in the tuning and upgrades can affect how cars behave on the track. Even with this depth of simulation available, the World Tour mode caters for everyone, with a huge gulf in racing styles and the option to choose your path, enabling even the most novice players to experience a vast selection of racing disciplines. Once you've unlocked championships in the Pro Career or World Tour mode you can race them at your leisure in the Free Race mode. Race set-up is fully customisable too, letting you tailor rules and opponents to your exact requirement.

If you think you've got what it takes to become a real racing legend, online play lets you test your skills against the best in the world. While the Xbox and PC versions will give you most competition, letting you race against eleven human opponents, the PlayStation 2 version is no slouch, with support for eight players online. As with all games, lag is a problem if you don't get into a good game, but find a group of players with good connections who are willing to play to the rules set up, and you'll find ToCA Race Driver 3 well worth playing online.

The number of cars on the track makes for some thrilling races

The number of cars on the track makes for some thrilling races

Next-gen racing games like Project Gotham Racing 3 have spoiled us somewhat, but ToCA Race Driver 3 looks great for a current-gen title. All versions of the game look superb, sporting smooth frame rates, a staggering 21 cars on track at once and an impressive level of detail in vehicle models and the environments. The ToCA series has always been at the front of the pack with damage modelling, and it's better than ever here. Not only does it look authentic, but it actually has an impact on how your vehicle handles on the road. Audio is equally impressive, with great engine sounds for each of the unique vehicles. The only real blemish comes from the odd less than spectacular texture on the home console versions, which don't look quite as impressive as the PC game.

If you're a racing fan ToCA Race Driver 3 is really a no brainer. It's got game modes and racing disciplines bursting from every polygonal seam and it's smart enough to cater for beginners and novices alike. World Tour and Pro Career game modes will take a long time to get through, and the online play will keep you playing for many months to come. It's hard to think of anything else the guys at Codemasters could have crammed into the game, and how they've managed to retain a high level of quality throughout is quite magnificent.

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Weazerdogg's Avatar
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Weazerdogg

This is a very fun game. I have GPL, NASCAR Racing 2, 4, and 2003, GTL and though they are all great games, sometimes I don't feel like messing with my car and running 100 laps to dial in a set-up. This game lets you jump right into driving, does give you a few tweaks that can shave of a hundredth of a second or 2, and looks awesome. Ok, the reviewer got carried away with their "hardcore gamer" comments, but Ben and Vernon need to chill out and climb down off their high horse. This is a very cool, worthwhile, fun dang game.
Posted 15:35 on 31 December 2008
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Vernongt

DWU... Allow me to explain something to you. Arcade games are where you sit in a chair and stare at the rear licence plate of a cartoon-like car and race it all over a cartoon-like track/road/whatever. A Simulator is where you sit your ass in the seat of the car you are driving, you see the dashboard, you can turn your head and look out of the side windows if necessary, and there's a mirror or two that will give you a 'real life' view of where the heck you've come from; and if you look closely, and squint a little, you may see 'Codemasters' and all the little kiddies in the 'arcade games' waaaaaayyy back there in the past. Cheers.
Posted 21:35 on 02 May 2008
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Vernongt

Ben, I just bought ToCA Race Driver 3, judging it by the reviews like the idiot at the top of this page. I should have known better, but I was sucked in by the multitude of venues and types of racing in this software (emphasis on SOFT). I already have GTR2, Race07, GT Legends, and the ever popular Nascar 2003. All of those are REAL Racing Simulators. You're right!!! This isn't a simulator, it's an "arcade game" for kiddies with arcade game mentality. I should have known better than to buy a Codemaster's product. I have Colin McRae 2005 sitting on my 'shelf' because 3 years ago I was sucked into that one too. Remember Vernon... (using a 10# hammer for effect), Codemasters = wasted money and time. How sad that the PS2 kiddies are sucked in by looking up the backside of a car and thinking it's racing. Thanks to SIMBIN and some REAL Racing sims I still have my sanity. Cheers and thanks for your honesty Ben. I wish I could email you...
Posted 21:21 on 02 May 2008
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Anonymous

Ben, get a life!
Posted 15:06 on 07 May 2007
PS2racer's Avatar
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PS2racer@ Ben

What Ben said on BHmotorsports comment about the DTM Race driver series: "where this laughable franchise is laughed out of existance." This is what they really said:"After a few years of what I would consider rough waters in their Motorsports division, I believe that Codemasters has really put out something that they can be proud of. Not bad, folks, not bad at all." and this was just on DTM2.
Posted 11:35 on 26 May 2006
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ben@ Ben

Then make a new title, because they are not sims. The level of physics detail and complexity in the Toca series, or infact any codemasters game are 1 dimensional at best, maliciously misleading at worst. Far out, most of them have centre turning point physics! Let alone the complexity to match real sims like RBR, GTL, GTR, Nascar 2004 or even LFS with its admirable tyre model. This game is not at all realistic.

You seem to intentionally make the distinction of 'hardcore' sim fans. Hardcore sim fans are those who play the games I have listed above, and GPL. Hardcore sim fans do not play this tripe.

" Arcade racing games in particular tend to have simplified physics". THIS game has simplified physics. Did you test to see if it has centrepoint physics? Can you with a straight face directly compare it with GTR?

No. Gook look at the polls on BHmotorsports re the sims community real feelings on this franchise.

Toca race driver is a great game, and deserving of its '9', but its not a hardcore sim. Its a comfortable racer designed for consoles and quick, fast action.

If you rate the physics model on par with the games i've talked about, you're not qualified to make that judgement.
Posted 07:45 on 06 April 2006
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dwu@ Ben

I think you need to re-evaluate your genre definitions there, Ben.

Arcade games are typically pick-up-and-play affairs with about as much depth as Paris Hilton. Arcade racing games in particular tend to have simplified physics and have a pretty shallow learning curve.

Games like ToCA Race Driver, in which you can spend ages tinkering with the settings of your car and be so unforgiving that it sends you careening into a wall if you put a wheel on the grass while cornering, clearly aren't arcade games.
Posted 01:01 on 06 April 2006
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Ben

Do codemasters pay you to write reviews like this or are you just afraid that they wont give you your next game to review if you slam it as it should be. For the love of god ill never understand why websites like this dont actually hire sim racers to review, racing games. Comments like "Hardcore simulation fans will appreciate the level of detail in each vehicle's driving model and see how small changes in the tuning and upgrades can affect how cars behave on the track." - No, hardcore simulation fans will deplore this game, and mock it on every available opportunity on sim forums and websites everywhere. BHmotorsports.com polls are just 1 avenue where this laughable franchise is laughed out of existance. Stop writing ill informed, inaccurate reviews. This is an arcade game. A good arcade game, but nothing but.
Posted 00:37 on 06 April 2006

Game Stats

Technical Specs
ToCA Race Driver 3
9
Out of 10
ToCA Race Driver 3
  • Looks great
  • Incredible variety
  • Fun for novices and veterans
  • The odd rough texture
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 24/02/2006
Platforms: Xbox , PC , PS2
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Racing
No. Players: 1-12
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 3,921 35
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