ToCA Race Driver 3 review

ToCA Race Driver 3 lets you race in virtually every professional racing circuit in the history of motorsport with unrivalled vehicular and course accuracy.

In the game’s World Tour mode, you start off with a select few race courses and championships. As you complete each championship’s objectives, you unlock another tier of racing courses and competitions. There are over 30 tiers in the game and each one unlocks on average three new championship series. Expect to have to invest many hours to unlock the later tiers.

Aside from racing, you can personalise your car in each race. The tuning tab allows you to control downforce, transmission, anti-roll, ride height, brake bias, tyres, suspension and toe and camber.

Every car drives differently; stock cars are top heavy, Formula 1 racers have a tendency to spin-out, monster trucks bounce around a lot. This means that each new championship series requires a steep learning curve as you crash the car numerous times on the first turn. Racing fans will enjoy the challenge but casual gamers will find the unforgiving controls frustrating.

We recommend switching your gearbox to manual settings for better control. Thankfully, restarting a race is only a click away and if you screw up badly on the third race of a series, you can simply restart the current course and don’t have to start over from the beginning of the series.

It’s a shame the graphics aren’t more spectacular. Using a MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Intel Core Duo and its ATI Radeon 9600 GT video card, the game still skimped on details around the edges and didn’t impress with its rendering of light, shadows or backgrounds. The damage animation is predictable and scripted, but damage does thankfully correlate with the speed of your car. Gauges will indicate what’s been damaged (tyres, suspension etc) and your crew chief and mentor, Rick, will scream at you to take a pitstop and repair the car. This costs you valuable seconds though, so you have to make some executive decisions in the game like a pro driver would.

Pro Career mode allows you to play the races you’ve unlocked in the World Tour section, and Simulation Mode allows you basic drives and the like. ToCA Race Driver offers both split-screen multiplayer and online connections through a network or finding a server through the GameRanger service.

OUR VERDICT

Deep and varied races make ToCA Race Driver 3 a compelling game for any fan of racing. While it’s a pain to have to race in a championship series you don’t care about in order to unlock ones you do, it’s what makes the game challenging. The graphics were probably top of the line in 2004, but now the courses look positively retro. If you’re a racing fan and want to broad selection of customisable and unique cars throughout the sport’s history, you could be very happy with ToCA Race Driver 3. If you’re just looking for a stylish adrenaline rush with cool cinematics and beautiful cars, this probably isn’t the game for you.

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