TOCA 2: Take a spin with these Touring Cars
(IDG) -- TOCA 2 Touring Cars is a worthy sequel to Codemasters' TOCA.
This import-only release -- based on a predominantly European style of racing -- offers a host of play modes, eight licensed BTCC cars (like the Nissan Primera and Ford Mondeo), eight real-world tracks and eight drivers equipped with stats and records.
The graphics are clean and sharp -- as you expect from a 3D card-only game. The decals give the cars a realistic look. Sparks fly when you collide with other racers and dust fills the air from peel-outs and spin-outs on dusty roads. And when they get banged up, the cars display damage (though it doesn't hamper their performance).
However, the cars feel a bit disconnected from the road. They almost seem to glide over the pavement. But you'll feel the grip of the tires (or lack thereof) when you underestimate a curve and spin out --a feat not difficult to accomplish in this game.
If you're really looking to do battle, choose the "Expert" setting, under which the AI cars are faster and more aggressive. The most serious drivers can follow the Full Championship circuit, where you'll race through all eight tracks, earning points in the race to become TOCA (short for Touring Car) champion.
Then there's multiplayer. Not only can you play over the modem, an IPX LAN and serial or Internet connection, but up to four players can play on a quad-split screen on one computer -- a definite hoot for LAN-deprived house parties.
The music is mellow and, if not for the sound effects, you'd think you were driving down a country road on a sunny weekend. The pit crew's comments are helpful (for instance, they'll alert you that your teammate's car is in the pit), but the remarks from the unidentified race commentators are somewhat infrequent.
TOCA 2 isn't gut-wrenching, adrenaline-pumping racing. But it's a hoot to jump into familiar cars like Volvos Accords and let it loose. These British chaps have given us a decent racer that seems to accurately reflect TOCA racing. Pick it up for a weekend of fun.
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