TechSpot

Race Driver 2 Review

By (=DoM=)
Jun 8, 2004
  1. Nice to see TS back up agan, good job boys :)

    This is my second in depth review of a game i recently bought, TOCA Race Driver 2 (name differs).

    A few weeks ago i had a sudden urge to play a racing game, as i frequently do, I had previously overlooked Race Driver 2 as i had read it was awefully similar to the first one, but i saw it for sale second hand in a games shop in town for £15, so i thouht i'd give it a try, i also bought a Saitek P3000 Cordless Gamepad to go with it (which is marvelous btw, Buy Now!).

    Ive not gotten round to playing it online yet (i'll get my *** kicked by those damn Germans who always beat me at Race Driver 1) So this will be a Singleplayer review.

    After the quick installation and graphics setup i went straight into the career mode, you start off in the deep in mid-season racing in a Ford GT40 (think thats what its called) as if you just dropped in, in the middle of a season which your character had been playing before you did (if you know what i mean, NFS:U does something similar)

    Anyway, its scripted that you fail misserably in that first race (as your supposed to in quite a few races).

    I wont go into too much depth about the between race attempts to create some sort of storyline, but in general you really do get a feeling of beeing an actual race driver, if a little bizzare. After some important races there is a cutscene which is done in first person, where you normally get shouted at by your Scottish manager guy, its a nice touch, better than Race Driver 1's stupid storyline attempts.

    The storyline is basically like this, you have to progress through races in championships (some are a bit mad) in order to qualify into the "Shark Team" championship, if you win that you get to your main goal, the "Masters GP" (F1, but without the official'ness)

    With the help of this woman who book you into championships and generally guides you to the top through a series of refreshingly different championships which get progressively harder.

    OK, about the game, this imo FAR succeeds Race Driver 1, although it isnt the "Ultimate Racing Simulator" as it states, this is by no means a perfectly realistic racing simulator ala Gran Turismo / Grand Prix 4. It is designed to give the perfect balance between realism and fun, which is what we want, right?

    The range of championships ranges from what you would expect (DTM, Formula Ford, RallyX) to the completely obscure (Super Truck Racing, Ice Racing, Hotrods) all of which are designed ot "Heighten" your career, and gain you more recognition so you can progress to better races.

    Codemasters CHARGE you to use their cheats, and i think theres a bit of a con going on here, imo, i think they deliberately make the game harder so your forced to cheat (theres no difficulty settng in career mode), Some of the races can only be completed by blatently ramming other cars, and in the ones where you must beat a certain driver, the only way you can beat him is by ramming him off the road when he brakes round a corner (which is a bit sad to say the least) there was one race which took me over 200 attempts to complete (Mustang 2000 Last Race) and i'm by no means a bad driver, i drive with manual gears and everything :p

    Ice Racing is another race which is so difficult i almost ripped my gamepad out of its socket (before i realised it was cordless) its very very fristrating having to resort to ramming bots off the road to win.

    Luckily tho, the games difficuty reaches its peak in the middle of the game, after that i found it much easier. I suppose one thing which comes out of doing a race over 200 times is the fact you then know that track off by heart. the Masters GP championship was suprisingly easy.

    Car Dynamics;

    The cars in RD2 are very fun to drive, they range from horribly oversteering AC Cobras to delightfully grippy GT Lights and stupidly fast F1 cars, all have a degree of skill about them to be able to drive them well, the Mustangs for example require a loving touch around corners, whereas the Skylines whizz round corners without a hint of over/under steer. You get a real feeling of speed in RD2, i prefer playing with the bumper view, where the camera is right on the road, and its teryfying coming upto the tight bends of the A1 ring in a Formula Ford at high speed.
    Another thing i must stress is the bot AI, its bloody marvelous, if you bump another car round a corner, or use him as a brake, you'd better watch out coz if he catches you up, he will more than likely try the same thing on you, they really do react realistically, but on the whole they rarely make mistakes, some championship races where the front runners pull away are semi-scripted so that they wipe themselves out on the last lap, so racing 8 laps of beeing 3rd sometimes pays off.

    The AI cars also seem to handle differently to yours, in races where everyone has the same car, you can follow in the shadow of the car infront of you as he goes round a bend, and match him perfectly, never coming out of his slip stream, and you will slide round the corner almost sideways and the bot will gracefully glide around without laying down even a bit of wheelspin. this can be annoying.

    The tracks;

    The Tracks in RD2 vary a lot, you have your high speed NASCAR ovals, your winding country road tracks, your scarilly camber'd speed circuits and your flat out winding speedways, there really is something for everyone, I love racing Aston Martin DB9's on the Scottish Loch track, very Need For Speed'ish!

    Graphics/Sound and Physics;

    I have a small problem with my ATI catalyst drivers where the shadows under the cars are missing, but this minor problem will be fixed in the next set of Cat drivers.

    The graphics in general are stunning, really very nice indeed,from the lights from the cars on a misty and foggy night track, to the glossy surface of a recently rained-on track, it all looks stunning, the cars Damage effects are really very nice too, every dent is recorded, panels fall off, windows smash and your cars physics change with every bump, its superb, one thing which lets it down tho is the lack of dirt/scratches which show up on your ar, you can drive a car through a load of mud, flip it, scrape a dry-stone wall and then barricade through some cones and your car remains perfectly shiny, panels falling off and dents everywhere, but clean non-the-less.

    The Sounds in RD2 are sweet too, the EAX2 Environental sounds really add to the experience if you have 5.1 speakers like me, you can hear where everything is, and all the sounds are crisp and vibrant. (Very scary sounding F1 car engine!!)

    Conclusion;

    To end this stupidly long review, i would say Race Driver 2 is the best Racing game out on the PC atm, it has everything, the only thing letting it down imo is the bot AI, its bad points really outweight its good points, clever and cunning they may be, but they hardly ever make a mistake, and when they do, their clearly different cars physics let them recover too easily. It was so worth the 15 quid i spent on it, and ive yet to play it online yet, if you have the game and want a race let me know, and you can kick my arse :)

    Overall : 9/10 - Epic!

    *Edit : Er, sorry bout the length, i do go on a bit dont i :p*
     
  2. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,212

    Excellent review! Thank you. You put a lot of life into this one. Nicely done!:grinthumb
     
  3. (=DoM=)

    (=DoM=) TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 242

    thx Masque, in future reviews i'll try to stop going off on wild tangents and try to structure the review a bit better, correct more typo's too. :)
     
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