Touring Car Challenge Toca 2
The problem with serious racing sims is that they'll forever be measured against the infallible GGran Turismo. Despite this tendency, ToCA 2 is a strong contender for one of the best driving simulators on the PlayStation. Because it's a touring car experience, the races here are full contact, tooth-and-nail struggles on every straight-away, around every bend. The game is set up so that you'll have to win races and unlock modes in order to finally open other challenges. In its uncompromising pursuit of realism, ToCA 2 never dummies down to arcade physics; however, a large majority of racing fans out there will find this a tragic omission. Each of the modes you play will have the same realistic physics, and with the exception of the Sega Rally-like time trial mode, all the car damage you wished Gran Turismo had. While the official licenses (from cars and tracks to drivers and events) are authentic, I wish ToCA 2 had a bigger selection of touring cars for the main challenge. It's basically the same roster of cars from the original ToCA with a handful of "special" cars you can unlock. Graphically. ToCA 2 has a lot of surprising detail. Look carefully and you can see drivers through the windshield, or the colored reflections of headlights off the slick wet asphalt. OK, so it's not Gran Turismo...but so what?
The reason I love this so much isn't because it's based in England, and is full of cars that I can remember from English roads. Promise. Regardless of where you're from this is an exciting 'real' cars racing on tracks experience. It may be more of a sim than an arcade racer, but once you've mastered the sensitive controls (and it's nowhere near as bad as last year's game) it's a joy. It also has the best vroom-vroom noise of any game, ever.
Being partial to sims, I really like TOCA 2. From the excellent motor sounds to the convincing weather effects, everything about it is realistic. What thrills me the most, however, is the racing gameplay. The excitement of chasing down the pack, slip-streaming and swapping paint with Al cars is awesome. It's very entertaining that way. The reasons it's so fun? The cars handle like champs. Two-player is decent too, especially with Al vehicles running along.
While I'm not the biggest racing sim fan, I can appreciate how well this game delivers the realistic effect. Accelerating, cornering and braking feel like the real deal. But, unlike other hardcore racing games (mainly Fi-style), TOCA 2 is still fun to play. No matter how bad you screw up. there's still a chance to get back in the race; I like that. Stilt, I wish the sound was more complete. Even though the motors sound great, some of the other effects don't.