TOCA Race Driver 3: The Ultimate Racing Simulator Xbox Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox

TOCA Race Driver 3 was originally due in the closing months of 2005, but a delay assured that the game was up to the usual high standards that we have come to expect from developer Codemasters. Another assurance is that from the starting line to the chequered flag of development, the visually beautiful Race Driver 3 was an obvious labour of love for all those involved, and the results are a quality drive that crowbars even more events into the game.

It’s packed with such an array of vehicles, that you’ll be giddy with excitement every time you are given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of an unfamiliar motor for the first time. There’s a total of 35 different racing events to discover, some you’ll love, some you’ll hiss at (the Go Karts seem to be a favourite one to hate) and others will fall somewhere in-between, but if you can’t find something you love here then realistic racing games definitely aren‘t your domain.

You may be wondering by now what Race Driver 3 can offer you in its vast range of vehicles, fret not, read on and find out. Each event falls into a class, which includes everything from classic, GT, Oval, Touring Cars, to Off Road and Open Wheel. To list all of the vehicles would be too time consuming and possibly boring for some, so lets just say there’s lots of cars (70+) , including vintage models dating from as far back as the 1930’s right up to the more advanced (and safer) present day speed machines.

Something we’re not too happy about is the lack of banger racing, surely with such a fantastic level of damage on show it would have given all us racers an excuse to bash our cars to pieces. Is TOCA too refined for such a mental motor sport? With the inclusion of Monster Truck racing, we think not.

It’s not only the garage that has swollen in size the game itself has had some additional elements added. There’s still a passable, although unnecessary storyline in the World Tour mode, but new this time around is the Pro Career option, which allows you to choose one of six racing disciplines, and even tune your car, with your aim being to conquer of course.

Gone are the days where cheaters ruled the roost as Race Driver 3 often spanks you for such behaviour. Real racing rules add more drama to the track, too much time off the tarmac, shunting your rivals and more will eventually result in you receiving a caution followed by a heavy handed black flag penalty if your dirty driving continues and ultimately a disqualification. Yellow flags are shown for incidents on the track, which means overtaking is a no no during the caution period. It may be harsh at times, but at least it encourages you to improve your driving skill, even if rules do differ for each event.

If you aren’t gaining warnings or penalties then damaging your car over and over again is another way to end your race. There’s much more that can go wrong with your motor this time, including tyre wear, overheating radiators and blown engines. You may escape from a collision with a moving vehicle, but if your engine is hot enough to cook your dinner as a result of the crash then it’s probably time to make a journey to the pits before the said engine decides to stop functioning altogether. Following the start of a race, your tyres even warm up as you speed along the track, resulting in better traction – lets face it Race Driver 3 has it all and more.

The handling differs from vehicle to vehicle, but something that many of the motors have in common is that they take a little care and attention to keep them from flying off the track. It has quite a high learning curve being the hardcore simulation that it is, but you owe it to Codemasters to learn all the ins and outs, such was the love that they gave the game, it‘s your turn to love it too, or something like that.

We played TOCA Race Driver 2 over and over again on Xbox Live, and unsurprisingly an online option is present on the latest game. Online is still where the racing is at its most dramatic, and the option to include racing rules certainly puts cheating drivers in their place, as last time around online racing was ruined by corner cutting. The superb ranking system has also been slightly reworked, now allowing you to view your own as well as other players statuses for each and every event.

Could this be the most complete racing game ever to grace a console? Quite possibly. It’s definitely a game that will please motor racing enthusiasts and those who just like racing cars on their console. Even if you hate simulation racing games, you just have to admire Codemasters for cramming as much content into the game as time would allow. We can’t wait to play the inevitable Race Driver 4 and look forward to seeing what the next generation of gaming can provide for an already solid gold series, banger racing perhaps?