At the time, as authentic as race sims got. Unless you plugged in that famous cheat code, of course…
TOCA Touring Car Championship was the first officially licensed game based on the racing series that is the scourge of wing-mirrors everywhere, the British Touring Car Championship. Conveniently, this beloved PlayStation title coincided with the fan-favourite Super Touring era: a period in motorsport when the idea of the Williams F1 team taking time out to fettle a humble Renault Laguna into a championship winning racecar seemed perfectly sensible.
What TOCA nailed right out of the gate was the distinctive, knockabout racing that the BTCC was famous for. Packed grids of Ford Mondeos and Honda Accords meant you were constantly busy jostling with other stripped out, heavily sponsored rep mobiles and while the handling isn’t going to have iRacing waking up in a cold sweat these days, at the time it was as authentic as console racing sims got. And yes, it accurately recreated the British weather.
The game featured all the club circuits on the official calendar, though this was the mid 90s, so the concept of ‘laser scanning’ was reserved for episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation on BBC 2. Instead, the developers at Codemasters apparently recreated the topography of the tracks by squinting at Ordnance Survey maps. At least all the churches were probably in the right place.
Unlike Gran Turismo, which this game beat to shop shelves by a single month, TOCA included a proper damage model, with mechanical retirements and even the occasional liberated bonnet. Of course the best way to really stretch that technology was to enter the cheat code that swapped your Nissan Primera for a jet-powered tank, complete with a cannon that launched your competitors into the sky. That’s one way to deal with getting punted off the road by Rickard Rydell for the third race in a row…
Keyword: Remembering classic games: TOCA TCC (1997)