TOCA 2 Demo Review
I have tried out the TOCA 2 demo and this is what I have found out so far with the couple of hours of running the game. The demo allows you to drive two types of cars(Honda Accord and a Van Diemen Formula 1 car) around the Croft track for 3 laps. This game is a little better then the previous version of TOCA with more features, but I liked the orginal game for the Car handling which I will explain later in review. Graphics are acceptable, but dont meet up with the standards of the likes of NFS3, Viper2, etc. Talk more about that later. I rank this game as a fun Arcade type game with what the demo has shown me.
I am testing this demo on a 450 MHz pentium 2 with Voodoo2 3D card, Sblive sound card, and 100" by 100" projection screen.
Installation was very easy and had no conflicts with any other game. I did get my demo version from PC Zone Magazine with their enclosed CD.
The game first comes up with an Intro screen and then goes into the main menu. This has button selections for Start Race, Show Replay, Game Options, High Scores, Information, and Quit.
The Show Replay button allows you to select saved replays and run them. Did not get into this feature at this time cause when the race is done it asks you to run the replay and viewed them at that time, but did not save any.
The Information button takes you to another menu that allows you to view how to drive the tracks and what they look like, shows history of some drivers, and explains the various cars. This was very well done.
The game options has the typical settings for controller, graphics, sound, and physics. Setting up my TSW wheel was no problem with this game but driving the cars were very difficult which will be explained later. Graphics were all set to max. Some advanced parameters I did not play with at this time.
Start Race button takes you into the next menu which selects the type of racing you can do. Demo only allows you to do Single Race. Click on this and the next menu allows you to enter your name. After that, the next two menus select the car and the track you want. Finally the next to the last menu allows you to select the difficulty which you can only do "standard". The other two are novice and expert. The final menu before you get into race is to go into change the car setup if you like. There are a few basic parameters to change in the car, which help in downforce, braking, gearing, and tires.
Now we are ready to race after going through 7 menus to get there. They do come up very quickly though. Kinda reminds me of the Sega Rally game and its menu stucture. Anyway, you click on race and the the first thing that comes up is a view like in MGPR2 where you see the cars on the grid from the overhead front view, but not as nice as MGPR2. It does not go down the the grid naming the drivers. It immediately switches to your car in whatever view you have selected. By hitting the C key several times allows to switch to the various views(4) cockpit, front low on track, behind car, TV view.
The race is started by hudge overhead unrealistic 3 red/3 green light panel and cars start in a grand prix style racing. Once race is started the lights go away and the race is on. If you floor the car starting out, your tires spin until you get up to cruising speeds. The AI cars seem to be very quick and are hard to keep up with in the demo especially the formula 1 cars. They just leave me in the dust with default settings. At the end of the three laps with the Honda Accord, I can stay behind the pack but have not come close to winning any races with default settings. I have to go back and watch the AI cars again, but the big thing with original TOCA game was the cars used to race together in packs bumping each as they go. I dont think this version does this as much as the original.
Driving around the Croft track is allot of fun. The car when it hits the bumpers or the grass causes the whole car to vibrate which is very neat. Once you get back on the track the car then smooths out. The car can spin and slide around the track like most the other games. I dont know if the car can flip. The car handling characteristics other then fighting my steering wheel settings explained in next paragraph are not bad. I rank the car handling of this game similar to NFS3. If you hit the turns to quick the whole car will spin around and causes skid marks and dust clouds on the track. Pitting, again is automatic. Dont understand why all the new games like auto pitting. I guess it is easier to work with. During Pit stop you can select tires, etc, and the pit crew says a few things while stopped which I cant understand before the car leaves the pits. At least this version has pits now.
The steering/handling of my car seems to be very jerky and too quick while turning the wheel very little. I have tried all different settings with dead band, amount of wheel travel, and linear-nonlinear with not great sucess at this time. The best I could get driving was using linear, 20% deadband, and 95% wheel travel. Even then I could not get a good consistant feel for the two cars with my TSW wheel controller. Increasing the deadband really didnt smooth out the wheel operation for me anyway. All it seemed to do is push out the turning trigger points left and right on my wheel. Need to play with this some more to see if there is anything I missed.
The graphics in this game are not bad but they are not exactly up to some of standards the other new games out now. The sky looks kinda weak, the track layout is very good and bumpers, and most the scenery around the track is pretty good. I dont know how accurate the track is since I have never been to the Croft track. There are some graphics parameters I did not play with at this time and if I see graphics improve anymore I will let you know. There are allot of settings(some advanced) that can be tweaked.
The cars look pretty good graphic wise for this type of game. The Honda Accord is the easiest of the two cars to handle. The formula 1 car seems to be tail heavy in the turns and easily spins out if you push it too hard with the default settings. Both are very cool cars though. The sounds of the cars I will let someone else rate them. I am not an expert in guessing what a Honda Accord sounds like. The cars have average cockpit views and have animated driver arm doing shifting when car changes gears.
Replays are good with the standard VCR type button selection. You can select car views, any car, can save replay. It shows the whole replay, no staggered movie clips like in MGPR2 game.
When race is done it gives you the standings of how you did along with the other cars.
Dont know if this game will have cheats like in original TOCA. I dont think you can run the tracks backwards, I may be wrong
All we can do is wait and see how much better the final version of TOCA 2 when it comes out in April or May. I hope they have better steering wheel settings give me a better feel for the cars.
Dave Thayer(SC member)