[Michael T. Babcock] Racing games

Racing games

ToCA Race Driver 3 - Buy It Now

I love a good racing game. I'm not picky on style, but it has to be fun. That is to say, I quite enjoy Burnout 3 and 4 by Criterion, very fun games, but not very realistic. You get to drive around like a complete maniac, sliding through corners, smashing opponents into buildings and obstacles, creating complete mayhem in intersections and mowing down other vehicles in "traffic check" challenges. This is the stuff to get your road rage out. Speaking of which, that's another racing event in the game -- eliminate as many of your opponents as possible while staying alive yourself.

On the other end of the spectrum would be racing simulators. ToCA Race Driver 3 is a great example here. ToCA puts the focus on realism of real cars, car conditions, physics, and tracks. The vehicle handling is second to none and the level of detail tracked is incredible. Tire temperature, compression, compound and condition are all considered as you take those corners. Don't go on the grass, your tires will get slippery and cool off too. Go over some gravel or slam on the brakes in a corner and you'll feel that flat spot as you accelerate. Brake temperature and pressure are handled well, as are aerodynamics of the individual vehicles and damage modeling to your suspension, wheels, engine and body.

If you like racing, if you like racing real cars in real conditions, you have to play ToCA Race Driver 3. On top of all that, I love the actual racing behaviour, especially the AI. I've found that pack racing is done terribly in most games with your opponents basically picking and sticking to a racing line and/or speed, not avoiding you or acknowledging an attempt to pass. In ToCA, as you take an opponent on the inside, you'll see them slow off and move over slightly to avoid collisions -- which are also well modeled in-game, including yellow flags, warnings and penalties for aggressive driving.

There is a fairly active online racing community as well with ToCA since the realistic racing does lend itself well to enthusiast tournaments. Get a copy and join in.

Some of my favorite memories of playing video games include the infamous Mario Kart games and their derivatives. Go-karts seem to lend themselves well to fun console gaming. I always had a soft spot for racing games that weren't too hard to control but had benefits to perfectionism, whether it be in difficult cornering situations or hidden shortcuts that required a level of daring to reach.

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