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People of Britain, stand up and shout “hurrah!” In the TOCA series, we have a racing franchise to be proud of – one that can stand up to the might of Gran Turismo or Project Gotham Racing, and still bring something new, something different to the table. Goodness knows, it can’t be easy.
You see, things are tough for TOCA, and getting tougher all the time. On the consoles, it has long faced competition from the likes of GT or Forza Motorsport. On the PC, meanwhile, it’s been hit by Simbin’s double blow of GTR: FIA GT Racing and GT Legends: games aimed directly at the racing simulation market that TOCA used to call its own. This couldn’t have come at a worse time. And for all its pleasures, the last incarnation, seemed to show a franchise in danger of losing focus. There was too much story, too much video and – arguably – too many motorsports to handle. If TOCA had carried on down that route, it was at risk of losing any cohesion.
Luckily, TOCA Race Driver 3 responds the right way on both fronts. It offers something the competition lacks, while offering a more streamlined experience, which is – at the same time – still full of choice. The secret to that success? Simple. Structure.
Basically, TRD3 is the first Race Driver game to both really keep the sim fans happy, while offering the more casual racer an accessible ride. And there’s still a ludicrous quantity and variety of content that no other racing game can match. The motorsports are divided into six classes – open wheel, GT, touring car, oval, off-road and historic – which means you may be racing Formula Ford cars one-minute and monster trucks the next, before dipping into some high-speed oval truck racing then competing in a 70s muscle car championship. I can’t think of any other racer that does so much so well.
And the easy way to give all these sports a try is the World Tour mode. Just imagine TRD3 as the whole range of dishes at your local take-away, and the World Tour as the set menu. It presents you with a selection of championships arranged in tiers, with you picking one of three in each. This gives you a chance to run the gamut of motorsports on offer, while avoiding anything – say, open-wheel racing – that really is not to your taste. You can see World Tour has evolved from the old TOCA Race Driver story modes, but its faster paced and more focused on the racing.