Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | June 11th 2004

Codemasters, the developer of the remarkable Colin McRae Rally series are back with ToCA2: Race Driver 2 Simulation. Race Driver 2 leaves an impressive mark and provides plenty of game to satisfy any racing enthusiast.

The Game
Toca: Race Driver 2 is the follow up game to Codemasters' Pro Race Driver that flew under the radar of most gamers and press last year. Toca: Race Driver 2 (RD2) will keep you satisfied in between the racing, multiplayer and story mode. Yes that's right! There is a story to this racing game. The story puts you as an inspiring young driver who joins a financially - challenged racing team. You get a harsh introduction into the world of racing by an old work-horse named Scotty. Scotty puts you through the ringer by challenging other drivers and by demanding that you place high in the races in order to earn the much needed money. After the first few sections of the game things progress and your international ranking and racing team grows. Before you know it , you'll be followed around by cameras while becoming a glimmering star in the racing circuit. The plot behind RD2 isn't ground breaking, but it helps push the game along. The best quality about the story mode is that occasionally you get to pick your own race types, switch up the vehicles for a breathe fresh air, which adds to the replay value of the game.

Codemasters aptly tries to steer away from arcade racers and has turned towards a more simulated feel. They even mention it in their name, just so you don't get the wrong impression. With every simulation game there is going to be an above average learning curve and this is true with RD2 as well. Race Driver 2 features realistic physics that requires a great deal of control when handling the vehicles. In the beginning you might be a little frustrated because this isn't your normal Need for Speed, Project Gotham racer, but if you stick with it for a while you will find a great game that's not as hard as you thought. Keep at it and you'll pass the track, I almost quit several times before I would finally get what I wasn't getting and win the race.

You might have heard about the amazing assortment in racing that RD2 has you participating in. It's a bit overwhelming with 33 championships mixed with every type of racing imaginable. Some of the car classes included are V8 Super cars, Rally cars, Street Racers, Formula Fords, Classics and more. But that's not it. RD2 isn't just restricted to cars they also throw in some street and off-road trucking and the big rigs. They don't go overboard like Midtown Madness 3 with Busses, Dump trucks and high powered Shopping carts, but they do surpass the selection of other serious race games.

RD2 does have some negative aspects - even though the overall experience is great. A negative point about RD2 would be the short amount of time you have to get accustomed to all the vehicles before they throw you into something else. Since it takes a while to get used to the handling of each vehicle, it's a shame they make you start all over within a period of three or four laps just when you get comfortable. The handling of the cars is excellent, but it's extremely frustrating to adjust every few races.

The second negative point that I have to single out is the racing AI. It's not enough that the game's CPU controlled drivers are all exceptional drivers they also have no qualms about making contact with your car, sending you wildly out of control. Unlike a real human the computer never seems to make mistakes when they are in the lead, this keeps the difficulty level up and also notches down the realism a bit. It's a tough game, and this AI doesn't give an inch.

Watch the walls! Steer clear of hitting other cars because RD2 incorporates an intense damage system. The results of hazerdous driving will drastically affect your car's performance in keeping with the simulated, real feeling of the game. You can hit the pits if the damage is too severe, but then you'll lose placement. The best thing to do is learn the track and keep on the break when uncertain because on e wrong movement can cost you the race.

Graphics & Sound
Toca: Race Driver 2 is a fine looking game that has some notable car models that take damage! The cars look authentic to their real life counterparts . O ther than the team paint jobs not varying much, the cars are excellent. The frame rate runs at sixty frames a second, although at times the feeling of speed can become a bit sluggish. The environments are pretty varied and have some unique twists and turns with good texture work.

Codemasters always does a great job duplicating the sound of the cars engines in their racing games and RD2 is no different. Like Colin McRae 04, there is no backing soundtrack giving a more intense driving experience with the surround cranked. I am glad they included the option of using your music library on the Xbox, just incase some idiots are on Xbox Live. The sound is great and surround is must for the full experience.

All the features that Codemasters pumped into RD2 are straight up innovations, tackling more than any other racer has done in the past. The huge assortment of variety I mentioned earlier is groundbreaking and keeps things fresh. Although not flawless, Codemasters keeps the one up on realistic driving games - above other strong driving games on the market.

Is multiplayer an innovation anymore? Well anyways... the multi-player mode in RD2 is a lot of fun. I quickly learned that people are taking this game very serious. It's a very different online experience then something like the arcade racer, 'Project Gotham Racing.' My initial experience was alright, but I knew I needed to spend more time on the single player game. Considering the huge selection of vehicles, the online portion of RD2 won't become stale if you constantly mix things up. One minor gripe about RD2 is that the host has to unlock what they want in order to use it in multiplayer and single. Most Xbox Live racing games have been designed this way, but the gripe is on the difficulty - it's been taking players a lot longer to unlock it all.

Toca 2 is one racing game that shouldn't be overlooked by racing fans! Codemasters brilliantly steps forward in the future of console racing. Beware casual fans the difficulty is higher than the average racer. So if your one who likes a challenge, here it is!

Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 8.5, Mojo: 9. Final: 8.5

  • Race Driver 2 continues the pioneering use of cinematic plot in racing games with the whole narrative being played out completely from the first person perspective. You see what the lead character sees and you create your own history.
  • Race Driver 2's high-detail cinematics will follow the player and a band of race drivers competing globally with high-tension eliminator consequences. The 'reality TV' style eliminator story captures the competitive intrigue of 12 drivers battling their way to win the ultimate racing experience: a drive as a Masters Grand Prix professional. Visually the cinematics will be triple the detail of TOCA Race Driver with characters created from over 12,000 polygons.
  • From the game's core development team, which began work on the title in summer 2002, the full Race Driver 2 team now has over 40 of Codemasters' finest motorsport game engineers on the project.

ColinMcRae Box

April 2004