ToCA like any other racing game, is the next game attempting to knock Gran Turismo 3 of it\'s throne, with a unique story line function, and some fancy games physics can it succeed?
ToCA approaches the racing genre from a different angle to it\'s other contenders, instead of just working towards owning all cars and winning all trophies, ToCA uses a story mode that follows the career of Ryan McKane. Starting in the lowest tier, you have to work your way up through different competitions. Instead of the best racer being promoted at the end of the season there is a points system. To progress you need to gain points from finishing in the top six. It may take several seasons to go up a tier. Between races you are often treated to a cut scene, these include arguments with rivals and discussions between yourself and your manager, the man who was close friends with your father before he died in a racing accident. In all the story isn\'t brilliant but fits in well with the games style and helps separate ToCA from it\'s rivals. In the cut scenes graphics are nice and the voice acting is above the current standard for dire performances. You also get job offers from other teams, meet the standard in the test drive and they\'ll take you on. As in all games of this type, constantly succeeding in races will unlock a variety of tracks and cars. The selection is quite wide, and all of the cars are licensed vehicles, so there\'s a good chance you might see your favorite touring car in there. It\'s slightly annoying that you have to stick with the name given by the computer, but the name is frequently used in the voice acting so really it\'s a necessity.
The game plays extremely well, handling is realistic and the game feels enjoyable all the time, the game is not at all frustrating. Though in all honesty it is a little bit easy and there is not as much as a learning curve as GT3, this means winning a race is often not as rewarding as it should be. A glaring omission is the fact that you can\'t qualify for races, instead your just put on the grid where the computer decides, this does remove some of the excitement from the game.
The games AI is simply amazing, and makes other games look pitiful. In GT3 did you ever get bored of opponents constantly following the same line? In ToCA the AI of each car has been bumped through the roof. Each driver seems to think for themselves and have their own personality. This may not sound like much, but it means that the game plays completely differently to any other racing game. This means cars don\'t all follow the same racing line, some will take risks and try to cut corners, or take hairpins at speed. It\'s not unusual to see cars skidding off the track when a maneuver goes wrong. Also cars will ram each other to get an advantage. If you ram a car off the track there\'s a very good chance he\'ll come after you to seek revenge. This makes the game more fun as you\'ll probably pick out an enemy in an early race after a simple nudge, and you\'ll find yourself hunting him down for the rest of the season, with him constantly returning your attempts to sabotage his race. At times it almost feels like your playing against human opponents. You really have to play the game to appreciate how much the AI affects play. Hopefully ToCA will set the standard for AI in future racing games, because anything that falls short of this mark has no excuses.
Graphically the game impresses, innovates and annoys. The graphics are nicely done and while they are not as polished as the graphics as GT3 there are reasons for it.The game features a damage modeling system which is impressive to say the least, parts of the car will deform smash and drop off. These pieces will stay on the track so it\'s quite normal to hurtle round the track and launch a discarded spoiler across the level. The damage system also affects the handling of the car, if you wreck you car it won\'t be as responsive or as fast. This is a welcomed addition to the game, which earns it several brownie points, it is most likely this along with driver AI that uses up the valuable processing power that would have been used on polishing the graphics. When traveling at speed the game features a nice motion blurring effect, again this is a great little feature, that unfortunately has its drawbacks. During replays the scenery blurs but the vehicle doesn\'t meaning that the car looks slightly out of place. The huge let down is the awful draw in distance, Codemasters haven\'t tried to hide this with fog as most developers would, but they must have noticed the problem, and should have tried some way to get around it. Pop-up occurs at a very short distance, and to be honest many first generation games did not suffer to this extent. Admittedly you don\'t notice the problem much when playing the game, but it does make it ugly to look at as a spectator. We should expect far more from a game at this stage, many other developers have eliminated the problem, so why not Codemasters? Though, if it was a choice between damage modeling and eliminating pop up, I\'d leave the game the way it is
The sound for the game is well done, with an assortment of rock type tracks (another standard set by GT3). Engine sounds, braking, skidding etc are what you\'d expect, accurate and well done (this is an area that most racing games have in common)
In general the game is definitely worth the buy, the story mode doesn\'t stand up to the competition of the main mode in Gran Turismo 3, but at least the developers have tried something different. The gameplay is great and the precise AI will make you come back to the game again and again. If you\'re a racing fan this is a very worthy addition to your collection, and those that wouldn\'t normally play this type of game should give it a try due to the innovative elements of gameplay.