Toca Race Driver 2

Review

posted 12/31/2004 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: Xbox
This brings us to what I hate about TOCA 2. When I buy an encyclopedia, I don’t want to have to read it all the way through before I can look up specific topics. Codemasters had an opportunity with TOCA 2 to satisfy two major constituencies: casual gamers and dedicated console racers. Unfortunately, they chose to cater only to the casual gamer. As mentioned before, you have to satisfy a progression goal in a career race to unlock the cars and tracks you want for free race mode. The career races are short, often only two or three laps. You invariably start pretty far back in the pack, and you progression goal is to finish at least second or third. This forces you to bully your way through the field knocking opponents out of your way rather than trying to finesse a pass. This type of Robby Gordon racing is not the style of racing I enjoy.

Being more interested in longer, more challenging races, I had hoped to be able to set up for any race I wanted. For example, I had hoped that I would be able to choose the type of car to race and the track(s) to race on. When I looked at the cars and tracks included in TOCA 2, I thought I would be able to race Formula Fords at Elkhart Lake or Laguna Seca. Such is not the case. Even after progressing through the career mode far enough to unlock the Formula Fords, I found that they could only be raced at four selected tracks, none of which were tracks I knew or cared about.

That limitation was frustrating, but not nearly as much as what I found next. I decided to try to use cheat codes that would unlock all of the cars and tracks to see if it would then allow the combinations I wanted. I’m not a big fan of cheat codes – frankly, I despise them. I think that once I buy a game, I should have free rein to configure and play it any way I want without having to resort to an internet search for the codes required to give me that freedom. You can probably guess, then, how annoyed I am with Codemasters for having developed a cheat code system that requires me to phone them, at the rate of $1.99 per minute, to ask for the codes! This I refuse to do, and I will quite honestly state that it is because of this ridiculous policy that TOCA 2 will receive a full point lower score than I would normally have given it.

Ultimately, I found TOCA 2 to quite a bit of fun in some aspects, but in other ways to be an unfulfilled promise. The potential for a flexible, user-configurable collection of interesting and fun racing series remains hidden beneath an impenetrable barrier of superfluous constraints. I would have been far happier with this game had Codemasters made the decision to allow me, the customer, decide what is fun and what is not, rather than forcing me into their view of what people want to be able to do with their games. But in those times when my desires mesh with their imposed limitations, TOCA 2 is very, very good. But in the much more common case when I want to do things my way, not so much.



C+
TOCA Race Driver 2 from Codemasters is described as the “Ultimate Racing Simulator.” Does it live up to this claim? Unfortunately, not quite.


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