TOCA Race Driver 3 review

  • Smooth handling
  • Practically every motorsport is in
  • It looks beautiful
  • It's current gen's last racing hurrah (sniff)
  • Some racing series are poor
  • Slightly conservative CPU racers

TOCA Race Driver 3 was always going to run the risk of being all wheel trim and no tyre.

One of the few criticisms of TOCA 2 was that at times it spread itself far too thin. The gameplay was generally tight, but it tended to fray at the ends when it plunged its dipstick into less familiar turf, the rally sections being particularly offensive.

Keeping this fresh in mind, TOCA 3 could have taken the easy option and streamlined the series into a few specialisms, ramp up the visuals and sell itself to racing game-starved Xbox 1 owners who, after watching Gotham 3 and Test Drive from a distance, are hungrier than a Pac-Man version of Pavarotti.

Yes indeed, they could have done that. But moderation has never been the TOCA way.

TOCA Race Driver 3 is the most diverse racing game any of us can remember, and we've been gaming for longer than we've actually been alive.

The game covers six disciplines: oval racing, open-wheel, off-road, GT, classics, and - wouldn't you believe it - TOCA's even managed to cram in some touring cars.

With over 80 tracks on offer - including Silverstone and Brands Hatch, the longevity of TOCA 3 is never in question. Far more likely to send inquisitive minds in a spin is the Eagle-to-Turkey ratio of the vehicles featured within.

TOCA 3 continues the series' tradition of emulating the handling of its cars perfectly. Each car has its own unique feel about it; from the smooth road-hugging of the Renault Clio V6 to the bouncy chaos of the off-road buggies, each car feels so natural, so right.

Naturally, with so many cars encompassed on one disc there are bound to be a few turds; karting is irredeemably dismal, while Monster Trucks may very well handle like space hoppers in real life, but a pleasant driving experience it ain't. On balance though, TOCA 3 offers more than we could possibly have hoped for.

Organising your progress through the almost farcically large roster of cars in TOCA can take shape in one of two ways. You can plough through a particular class in pro career mode, starting off with some rust-bucket go-kart, for example, if you want to make it as an open-wheel racer.

If that sounds a bit one-note, then you can always opt for the World Tour. This takes place over 32 tiers, each supplying you with a choice of mini-championships.

Fulfilling criteria in one of these will open up the next tier, meaning that you could be zipping around in Japanese Works cars one second, and entering a rally the next.

It's a fast-paced championship which skips all the practising and qualifying and just dumps you on the grid, and is the most accessible way to see every little thing that the game has to offer you.

Each aspect of TOCA (such as rallying, NASCAR or customisation) has been bettered elsewhere, but TOCA does so much, so right, that in a straight one-or-the-other scrap it's difficult to imagine any other racer coming out on top.

Under TOCA's bonnet is a powerful combination of handling, speed, variety and a complex damage system that will prove difficult to upstage, on this or any other console.

Naturally, a game of such ambition will have its faults. The drama of the AI balancing has gone on for even longer than The Archers, with early builds featuring overly-aggressive opponents clipping your heels and spinning you off-track with alarming regularity.

Now the AI is far more sedate, happy to follow the line and pecking order that the Codemasters gods have bestowed upon them. A problem that plagues pretty much all racing games, in fairness, although it's slightly disappointing here, all the same. Especially given the fact that everything else in the game hits home.

All in all, however, this is essential stuff. All we're hoping for is that there are enough people still on Xbox Live to fully enhance the experience. And we know there will be, as you'd have to be some kind of demented loon to pass up this opportunity. And is that what you want your legacy to be?

Both you, and your wonderful little Xbox, deserve a far grander send-off than that.

More Info

Release date: Feb 22 2006 - PC, PS2, Xbox (US)
Feb 24 2006 - PC, PS2, Xbox (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, PS2, Xbox
Genre: Racing
Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: Codemasters
Franchise: TOCA
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Language, Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:
12+: Bad Language


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