Preview By: Gabriel Strange | Posted: 28/03/2004
For a start the preview code I have is only 80% finished, and in paces it shows. Though the glitches are only minor ones, they do tend to congregate in the same areas, so I presume these will be the areas that will change the most in the finished product.
I tend to love or hate racing games, usually the ones I hate are lacking in features, or realism. I can say ToCA 2 has in places with some excellent realism however some places it does need to be tweaked, as this game and many others suffer from common flaws. The actual driving and control method is spot on, and make the game enjoyable to play. However the physics involved with collisions can be a little off in places, usually hitting a wall is ok, but hitting other vehicles is very bias to the AI controlled cars.
The game itself seems to run fairly smoothly at this point much of the back bone of it has been done add it seems all Codemasters need to do is tweak a few aspects. ToCA 2 is more for racing enthusiasts rather than people who just want a fun racing game to play. At this point there doesn't seem to be many optional goals or extras, so all that is possible now is just the driving parts. I hope they do add options to upgrade the car and buy extras, if not the replay value won't be very high.
The things that make the 'Grand Turismo' series popular are what should be added to a game like this. Collectables and upgrades could add a wider appeal to ToCA 2. Though I do think this game will do well as it is, because of the people behind it and the sturdy racing aspects.
Aspects of the game play are superb, and aspects are downright silly. As mentioned the actually driving and control of the car make playing this game a pleasure, but it's the other aspects that annoyed me greatly. The slipstreaming works well and can give you the advantage you need in some races.
The 'on the rails' nature of the AI cars makes the actual racing rather annoying, couple that with the slipstreaming, makes the AI opponents rather annoying. Especially when they slipstream behind your car and nudge you off the road, this aspect of the game had me swearing at the screen a lot.
The collisions with objects and anything that is not a vehicle works well if a little dodgy at times this is mostly passable (because your not meant to hit the walls.) The really irritating parts are when you impact with the AI controlled cars, they have the ability to knock you off the road and in to a spin with the slightest nudge (This is where the slipstreaming fails to appeal to me.) However when it comes to you trying to slipstream up to the AI cars and nudge them, you seem to take engine damage and they just keep going on their rails. This is most infuriating and possible the main problem with ToCA 2, if the collisions can be made fair and worked out better then it would not detract from the gaming experience.
Another flaw of this game and many other racing games is the feeling of speed, this is not actually felling at all. Even when you're supposed to be doing nearly 100 mph it still feels like your going at 30 mph. Very few games actually give you that rush of speed, which the developers 'Dice' seem to achieve with ease. Even 'Need for Speed Underground' managed to successfully fake that feeling of speed, but ToCA2 cannot muster any feeling of speed.
Well this is one area of the game which excels beyond most other, the graphics and tracks look wonderful, the cars have been well modelled and the specular effects are most sumptuous.
The majority of the work and development of this game seems to have been done in this area, which may explain why some of the racing physics are wonky at this time. Everything looks and works well in the graphics department, the menus and scoreboards are clear and crisp. Your never left squinting at the screen wondering what is written their. The way the scenery passes by is smoothly done, and whisks past you with out a judder.
The cut scenes are well thought out, though not the best CGI in the world, they do fit with the game style and feeling the developers are trying to invoke. The Scottish manager always adds some humour to the scenes and explains everything you need to know, in the developing story. Aspects of the preview code made it difficult to experience the later scenes but I would hope they keep in a similar vein and work just as well as the early ones.
There is little much I can say about the graphics other then top notch.
The sound is one of those aspects that's causes the most hiccups in the preview code. It seems some of the data streamed off the disk interferes with the sound. This is most prevalent, when each track is being loaded, as the BGM tends to divulge in to some kind of experimental Jazz.
Also sound glitches happen in game, when the manager comments the game has a habit of pausing for a second. This I presume will be ironed out either by improved streaming technology or dumping the manager comments into a cache, it's not big problem and it should be solved by release.
Other than the streaming glitches the rest of the sound if good, not phenomenal, just good, it's difficult to pin point where thins can be improved. Probably making the sound s little crisper and adding some variations on the stock sounds for crashes. Other than that the sounds they have used work well with the game and while you concentrating on not getting shoved off the road you don't really notice the sound.
Och! You're a wee bit ahead of the other cars mate
Personally, I think if the parts I'm not at least 90% happy with are improved. I would buy this game on release, but then I'm very picky about the racing games I like. Possibly overly picky too be reviewing them, but that at least I will not salivate over a game unless it phenomenal.
However the code I have been sent is only 80% complete so those areas I mention as being a bit off could be improved and make this game one I would like to own. But as it stands I will probably wait until it hits budget before I make the purchase. Though Codemasters have over the years made some phenomenal games and I think with the complete code this could be in a par with those Codemasters games I grew up with. Such as Dizzy (Ah the memories and many wasted hours on the dizzy games, maybe they should resurrect the Dizzy games.)
I do think that ToCA 2 will appeal to a good audience and once complete it will be a nice neat package, and players will have hours of fun. But purists and those causal racing gamers might not enjoy this game as much as they could.
As it stands I think ToCA 2 could be a good base engine on which Codemasters can add extra features and develop it through ToCA 3 and 4 to produce a much more involving and complex game where you can buy upgrades and your path is not as linier. I guess it the collector in me speaking but I like buying cars and getting upgrades.
This should be on the buy list for anyone who wants a fun driving game which will keep them entertained for a while. Not as involving or purist as some games but an enjoyable play none the less.
Current Rating I would give the game: 75%
Once finished, we could be looking at a nicely rounded game.