Electronic Theatre Preview: TOCA Race Driver 3: The Ultimate Driving Simulator

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Electronic Theatre ImageTOCA Race Driver 3: The Ultimate Driving Simulator is the latest in the TOCA series brought to you by CodeMasters, the publishers of both the TOCA series and the Colin McRae Rally series. This title is the highly anticipated next entry in the TOCA Race Driver series, CodeMasters Race and Management Simulator. Where you not only get to race with cars from the TOCA discipline but race with Classic cars, GT cars, Oval Racing cars, Off-Road cars and cars from the Open Wheel and TMS disciplines.

            This version of the game hasn’t got too much car-wise that TOCA Race Driver 2 didn’t, Electronic Theatre Imageapart from the title now includes the entire Australian V8 Supercars Championship, every single-one of the cars is still there, with a new selection of Off-Roaders to keep the fans happy. There isn’t too much added to the management-side of the game either, but plenty enough to keep the game ahead of the early Gran Turismo’s or THQ’s slightly less founded in reality Juiced, with an in-depth Parts Manager and a highly sensitive Tweak Manager.

            The biggest change in TOCA Racer Driver 3: The Ultimate Racing Simulator is the little – hardly noticeable to the average gamer – additions and tweaks that balance the game more in the players favour than  previous releases. There’s been a complete overhaul of the physics; there are mechanical damage improvements, improvements to the off-road surface models and texturing, aerodynamic modelling, improvements in the fuel model and support for new vehicle types. There’s also been a lot of work looking at the inertias and suspension of the cars to make them respond more realistically to rumbles and bumps, which gives an even better feeling of contact with the road.

            There has been major works on the Collision Detection System as well; in fact it’s been totally rewritten, not just for cars, but barriers as well; making the random bouncing around the screen enjoyed in previous releases  a thing of the past. The tyres have had a small makeover also; now you can choose the tyre compound and the tyre profile, and you have the option to warm-up your tyres before placement for the race begins. This game also has a Repetitive Stress System for the car parts, meaning the parts that are used more inside the car are more likely to break andElectronic Theatre Image cause you problems in the race, adding a lot more realism to the fray. The outside of the car also gets affected by this physics engine, resulting in wings and bumpers breaking off – causing a distinct loss in aerodynamics – slowing the car on corners and making handling harder.

            Another large addition to the game is the Multi-Player Mode. Having always been treated by CodeMasters as a big part in the series, it also has benefited from a good going-over. Cheaters get penalised with black flags and disqualifications and there’s been a large amount of work to get rid of Lag whilst playing online; you can now go to a lobby to meet,  chat and watch other people play and there’s now measures in place to stop people with illegally modded cars taking part in races they’ve not been allowed in.

            The graphics of the entire game seem to have had a good work out too, and the whole thing runs really nicely from the Preview Code we received, all of the cars handle completely differently from each other and completely differently on each surface thy come across, there’s been a lot of work put into getting the track exactly right, and apparently the surface of some tracks is within millimetres of their real-life counterpart, making it understandable as to why this may be the PlayStation2 Racing Simulator of 2006. Currently scheduled to arrive on UK shores on 24th February 2006, TOCA Race Driver 3: The Ultimate Driving Simulator has little competition for the Racing Game top-spot.     -END-

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