Reviewed: October 22, 2007
Released: September 25, 2007
Codemasters, founded in 1985, is one of Britainís oldest video game developers to date. Once known for their budget titles they are now known for the Colin McRae Rally series, Overlord and the TOCA Touring Car series. This brings me to the game that I am reviewing, Race Driver: Create & Race for the Nintendo DS. Race Driver: Create & Race is the newest game in the TOCA series and is the first to grace a Nintendo system.
I have been playing racing games, since well before I could drive. Being a Nintendo fan since I was old enough to pick up a controller, the first racing game I ever played was Nigel Mansellís world Championship Racing for the SuperNES. Now I tend not to play serious racers like TOCA and Gran Turismo. I prefer games like Burnout and Need For Speed, but every once in a while I like to step away from the speed demons. Fortunately I have played several of the TOCA series titles and found them to be very entertaining.
Race Driver: Create & Race follows its predecessors in its use of real cars and real tracks. But unlike its predecessors, it brings something new to the table, or should I say screen. Race Driver offers you the opportunity to create your very own tracks and race them.
Race Driver: Create & Race has a very simple interface, as far as the racing part is concerned, utilizing both screens. The top screen is where all the action is and fairly simple. The speed odometer, lap and overall time, lap and position are all there as you would expect them to be. The Speed odometer is transparent, Thank God, so it doesnít obstruct your view.
The bottom screen is all about the car and track. The majority of the bottom screen displays the track you are racing on. But the rest is used for your car system indicators. Like a few good racing games out there, your car can take damage and it will in turn affect the way your car handles. The indicators are broken down into five categories: transmission, steering, suspension, engine and tires. Now for the fun of it I put the damage system to the test. After ramming my car in to a wall a couple of times at over 200 mile an hour I couldnít get my car to turn at all. That and it moved at a snailís pace.
Everything you hit affects something on your car and I was surprised at how the car was handling when it was almost destroyed. I had to fight to keep it on the road. Although the car takes damages it is mostly internal. The car takes no real cosmetic damage. The most you see is flacks that fly in the air that are the color of your car. Race Driver also supports the Rumble Pak, so you can feel every crash into the wall, and every time you skid off the track. Trust me on this one.
Race Driver: Create & Race features 32 real world circuits for all over the world including Silverstone, Hockenheim, Adelaide and my local favorite the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Race Driver also features 24 officially licensed cars, as well as their liveries and drivers. The liveries or sponsors to us Americans. They number of race teams are quite numerous and quite frankly I didnít recognize a single one. There were a few teams that I recognized, but that was it. There are over 17 different championships in Race Driver: Create and Race and trust me, you will be playing for a while. The championships vary from the Autosport Clio Cup featuring the Renault Clio to the 1960 GT Championship featuring a sweet 1967 Chevy Corvette L88 Sunray DX.
Race Driver has four main racing modes to choose from. They are World Tour, Pro Tour, Simulation and Multiplayer. World Tour and Pro Tour are identical; the only thing that changes is the difficulty. There are 13 tiers of championships to beat and this was by no means easy. The AI is very aggressive and had me repeatedly looking for that elusive easy mode. The Simulation mode is broken up into 3 sub-modes: Free Race, Time Trial and Challenge.
Time trial is self explanatory; it never changes for racing game to racing game. Free Race allows you to race any track that has been previously unlocked in the World Tour. You can choose championships, set them to your preferences, choose your opponents, and where you race. You are also allowed to do full calendar races. The Challenge Mode tests your skill as a driver. Sounds easyÖguess again. You are tested in everything from Acceleration & Braking to Speed to Overtaking.
The Multiplayer Mode of Race Driver is pretty cool, I will admit. Race Driver: Create & Race features three modes of multiplayer play; Single Card, Multi-Card and Nintendo Wi-Fi. The Nintendo Wi-Fi mode allows you to race people all over the world via a wireless signal. The other two methods are for local play only. The Single Card play allow up to 4 people to race each other. The Multi-Card Play does the same but offers a few more choices as far as choosing your car and tracks. One neat feature that I quickly found out is that when a car is selected by a player it is removed from the list of cars so that no two people have the same car.
There is one final mode to Race Driver: Create & Race, Track Designer. This is my favorite part of Race Driver because I am I control of my own tracks. Be honest, how many times have you played a racing game like TOCA or Gran Turismo and wanted to do unspeakable things to the track creators? Well that all ends now. No excuses, no complaining, no whining. It time for you to create a racetrack worth your respect.
You have a couple options on how to create you masterpiece of driving perfection. You can simply draw you track out with the stylus, or us the prefab pieces and put you track together piece by piece. You are given a limited amount of pieces to use but more can be unlocked and purchased in the Extras menu. There are some pretty neat track pieces and I swear I spent a couple hours creating my dream track. A few of my favorite track pieces include tunnels and a rocky chicane piece. There are over 60 plus track pieces available, so let your mind create to your heartís content.
As mentioned above there is an Extras Menu. This is used to buy rewards in the form of bonus Championships, track Designer pieces, and challenges. There are a couple other features but Iíll let you figure those out.
The graphics of Race Driver: Create & Race are not too bad for a DS release. The car models are decent but have that hover look to them as you drive them. You have probably seen what Iím talking about in games like Cruisiní Exotica and Auto Modellista. The environments are pretty decent by DS standards.
The sounds of Race Driver: Create & Race are pretty decent, and surprising numerous. In some racing games, all the cars sound the same. Not true in Race Driver. There are several classes of cars in Race Driver and they each have their own distinct sound. The Firebird sounds brutal where as the Opel Vectra GTS V8 sounds sleek and fast.
The background music wasnít really noticeably, mainly cause of the roar of the cars. The menu music is cool and kind of reminded me of the Colin McRae games.
Race Driver: Create & Race will have you occupied for some time, with all there is to do. With over 17 different championships and 32 tracks, there will be enough to keep you occupied on those boring road trips or on your lunch break. Plus the Track Designer adds a whole new dimension of fun to fray and is probably the best thing about this game. Race Driver: Create & Race retails for $29.99 at your local stores and if you like the TOCA series then this is an excellent addition to you collection.
I highly enjoyed Race Driver. I will admit I was frustrated a few times when I failed to complete some of the challenges or kept getting my butt kicked in some of the Championships but, I loved it. I would have liked to have seen the graphics a bit better but, they were still decent. Race Driver: Create & Race is definitely worth the $30 dollar price tag. I may not be the best racer for the system but it holds its own. I really like the Track Designer and I had a lot of fun designing my dream track.