Review - ToCA Race Driver 3

by , 8:00 AM EST, November 12th, 2008

When I reviewed FlatOut 2, I noted that I'm not as big a fan of realistic racing games as I am of the smash 'em up kind typified by that title. Now I must partially retract that statement, as ToCA Race Driver 3 has shown me that realistic racing can also be fun, with good controls and less spinning out in turns. There are no nitro blasts to burn or scenery to crash through, but there's a wide variety of racing to enjoy, from off-road 4x4s to lightweight go-karts to high-performance sports cars. You can even hop on a Honda lawnmower, although its sluggish controls and low top speed don't make for an exciting race.

Muscle car time

In all, ToCA 3 features over 35 types of racing, 80 real world tracks, and 70 licensed vehicles. If you embark on a World Tour, you'll be accompanied by Rick, who gives you advice during races and offers "Atta boy!" or "Better luck next time" type comments after them. There isn't much of a story in career mode, but if you get too aggressive with other drivers during a race, one of them might approach you afterward and threaten you. The first time it happened, it actually made me jump a little in my seat, because he gets close to the "camera" and gets very angry. I'm not sure, though, if he's the driver of a specific car, which means he goes off only if you bump into him, or if he's supposed to just represent another driver trying to teach you a lesson for not following the rules.

Watch out: these lightweight go-karts can spin out easily

All of the cut scenes are fun, and Rick is an engaging character who sometimes lays on his Scottish brogue a bit too thick but is otherwise enjoyable to watch. I'm not 100% sure of this, but it looks like the cut scenes were filmed live and then rotoscoped with CGI. At any rate, they're a cut above the cut scenes you typically see in games like this one, where they tend to be more of an after-thought.

A lot of races in career mode are just two laps

When you're racing, you'll also appreciate ToCA 3's excellent graphics and sound. Even on a mid-level computer like an iMac, the visuals are realistic, from the sunlight glinting off the cars to the dirt that gets kicked up if you stray off the track. The sound also makes you feel like you're in the middle of the action, especially the dirt that pings off the underside of the vehicle in the off-road races.

One of those races where you can hear the dirt hitting your vehicle

While the Rick-accompanied World Tour features a smorgasbord of racing types, Pro Career lets you stick with one of eight disciplines and work your way up the ladder, without his involvement. Unfortunately, if you want to race online against others, you're limited to the Mac-only service GameRanger. While GameRanger offers a good experience, it's always better to play against Windows gamers too, if possible; that way you have a much wider variety of competition.

Want your car to fly too? Select Bonus in the Cheats menu and just turn on the cheats you want

Overall, ToCA 3 offers an in-depth, wide-ranging experience for anyone who enjoys racing games. The controls are tight, the audio and video are realistic, the Pro Career and World Tour modes are deep, and there's a wide variety of types of racing available, so there's always a challenge around the next corner.

Company: Feral Interactive

List Price: $50

4 out of 5 stars

Realistic graphics and controls
Deep career modes
Wide variety of types of racing
GameRanger-only multi-player is limiting