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Yes, there are still links featuring the sarky Scottish manager, but these are shorter, and more clearly targeted at the coming race or the shortcomings of your last performance. The same goes for his comments from the pit – whether he’s upbraiding you on bad behaviour or poor technique, or drawing your attention to developing car faults, it’s practically an object lesson in how to do a race commentary that isn’t either meaningless or intensely annoying.
However, if you take your racing more seriously, you’re welcome to specialise. Enter the Pro Career mode, pick a discipline and you’re away, working your way up the championships and uncovering new cars and sports along the way. It’s a more realistic experience, complete with practice and qualifying sessions, crash procedures and a tougher damage model, and it ensures that TOCA covers all the bases. It’s never quite Burnout-easy, but it’s accessible enough that you can make progress if you’re a beginner without constantly flying off the track. On the other hand, if you want a more stringent racing game, you’ve got it. There’s even a special Pro Simulation handling model if you really feel the need to give your driving skills a workout.
And in all of this, TRD3 has stayed true to what has always made the series special: good handling, a dynamic damage model, fierce AI and a gritty, rather British real-world feel. Rival racers never shy from a fight; they’ll back-end you if you’re in the way, nudge past if they can and block when you’re trying to get past. Unlike GT, where you can nudge your way around the corners, get it first place, then sit back on easy street for the rest of the race, TRD3 gives you plenty of back and forth overtaking – something helped by the fact that the cars are always, if not identical, then pretty evenly matched. There is no way to buy or upgrade your way to an undeserved victory here, and if that means TRD3 can be hard going at times, it also means that when you win, there’s a real sense of achievement. Hell, sometimes when you come third there’s a real sense of achievement.
What’s more, while you’ll always prefer some to others, each of the sports has its own fun factor. With GT, it’s the speed. With Touring Car, it’s the fierce competition. Sometimes, as with the Monster Trucks or the hilarious, supped-up Baja Beetles, it’s just keeping in control of something that seems determined to hop and slide its way off the track at any moment. Even when it’s not perfect, TRD3 is nearly always entertaining.