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The Greatest Video Game Ever

Well at least now I have got your attention.

Video games are in a constant state of development, with better game play, graphics and fun with every new release. However, in much the same way as many oxygen breathing humans get with areas such as fashion, music and of course cars, the value of ‘vintage’ is most definitely on the up. I have played a host of games in the past on various platforms and consoles, everything from strategy, fantasy, war and, shock horror, racing games.

We are living in a world dominated by Forza, Gran Turismo and by extension, the driving options available in games such as Grand Theft Auto. The graphics may be unbelievably clear and the driving physics as close to realistic as is possible in a virtual reality, but none of these would win the prize as my all time favourite racing game. I realise that the title I gave this post was a little on the eccentric over-reaction side of life, but in my humble opinion this game will always be my number one in virtual motor sport.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to TOCA 2 Touring Cars.

The British Touring Car Championship was at its best during the 90s, and one of the greatest of these legendary years was 1998. Some of the highlights include a down to the wire championship battle, the introduction of mandatory pit stops, and Nigel Mansell. But why type a selection of words and phrases into my laptop to describe an amazing year, when I could just muster the power of video to explain my point… would you ever believe me if I said there was a BTCC race where Nigel Mansell (in a guest drive) started last and nearly ended up winning? No?

WELL then, watch this…

One of the greatest races ever, 1998 BTCC Donington Feature ft. Nigel Mansell

As John Watson so pointed out, “The British Touring Cars have totally eclipsed anything we have ever seen”.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars was released on the original PlayStation (the PS1 if you will), and was based on the 1998 BTCC season. Players had the chance to participate in the championship in one of three difficulty modes, which decided how many races the season would consist of. In addition, there are your usual time trial based modes. However, the game also gave players the chance to participate in the support car championships that were in effect in 1998. The game truly offers a full and comprehensive mode of play that truly reflects the giant of motor sport history that was the British Touring Car Championship of 1998.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars in all its glory

TOCA 2 Touring Cars in all its glory

Based on the picture you can now see with your eyeballs, you are probably making some comment on the poor quality of the graphics but what do you expect from a PlayStation One? And this game is in no way devoid of other issues. I will be the first person to admit that this game is dripping with issues. For example, the driving physics, as amazing as they are most of the time, have a habit of being massively unpredictable. When it comes to racing games, I am something of a perfectionist. And when a car has a habit of spinning wildly out of control for no reason although you have taken the corner no different to normal, it does vex me greatly. And I do not often use the word vex.

And I am not done either.

When it comes to competitive racing, it would appear that the AI cars seem to be possessed by some form of demonic spirit. When it comes to the first corner of any track on the calendar, I can promise you that the competition will find a way to take the corner at 5 times the speed that you have, whether through the gravel or on the tarmac, which usually means that you end up facing the wrong way in last place. Not only that, but it would seem that this satanic influence gives your opponents the ability to crash you off the road with a single touch, yet remain immovable when you try and return the favour.

All in all, the combination of these problems does definitely create rage filled controller flinging experiences. I can do nothing but apologise to my parents for the screaming, the shouting and definitely the damage as a result of my playing this game in my younger years.

Brutality is definitely the name of the game

Brutality is definitely the name of the game

And yet…

When everything comes together, the pure magic of the game becomes apparent. I mean yes there are faults left right and centre with the game quality, but what do you expect? And then again, in many ways it adds to the fun you can have with it. There is a level of madness and unpredictability that will wave goodbye to many hours of your life. And will you regret it at the end? No way.

What if I also told you that some aspects of the game were so forward thinking, that it took until the PS3 generation for other games to catch up. For example, usually in multiplayer modes, the number of opposition reduces to only 6 cars. However, in the co-op championship mode, you are still given a full grid of other cars. The problem I have with modern games is that they seem to assume that none of us have physical friends any more. New generation games seem to only offer multiplayer modes online, as if two friends would never DARE want to play a game together in the same place at the same time.

“Hey man, do you want to play some F1?”

“Yeah that would be awesome, i’ll see you in a bit yeah?”

“Wait, where you going?”

“Well you know, I have got to go home, log on and grab my head set”

“Oh yeah true that, see you in a bit!”

You know, some people seem to think that video games are making us less sociable. I wonder where that comes from.

In many ways, the game was as exciting as the real deal...

In many ways, the game was as exciting as the real deal…

As I have said, the combination of all these different elements, both good and bad, make this game a titan of video gaming. The competitive nature of the game make it more special and more exciting than anything you can get from a modern game. The driving physics are real yet ridiculous; you actually get different levels of handling from the different cars in the game. Trying to wrestle a Peugeot around a track often ends as badly as it did for Harvey and Radisich in ’98.

The original TOCA game never really did have the same spark, it lacked the same competition. And afterwards with the rise of TOCA Race Driver and beyond, the game began to look better and better, but somehow it just did not seem as fun. The level of co-op ability decreased, and in the case of TOCA Race Driver they tried to add the single most ridiculous over-Americanised story line known to the mind of mankind. Something about getting revenge for the death of your dad by becoming the greatest race driver ever…or something. I don’t know.

Recently, I managed something I was never able to do as a child. I completed what I would like to call the standard grand slam. 18 rounds. 18 wins. Only one thing remains. The expert mode takes racing games to a whole new level. I feel like I need some form of a professional workout regime to be able to psyche myself up for such a challenge.

And so, TOCA 2 Touring Cars may not be perfect, but it is the flaws that make it special. It reflects the no holds barred thrill that was the 1998 BTCC season. For anyone that has not played it, I really do hope that you will give it a go. There is after all a reason I came back to it 10 years after my first time.

No one is ever too old for video games. Good video games will never be too old.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars: a timeless classic

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69 (I talk about this video game quite a lot)

Peace and Love!


  1. Adam says:

    A fitting eulogy! Great job 🙂

    Also some other cutting-edge features – helmet cam, as in a viewpoint from the driver’s eye-view. Gran Turismo didn’t feature that until 5 on the PS3 in 2010 – 12 years later!

    Also I love how the physics capture the nice balance between sim and arcade. It’s FUN to play. I love Gran Turismo and realistic sim-racing, but no game hits the balance between pick-up-and-play fun and a dash of realism like TOCA does 🙂

    January 10th, 2014 at 12:45 am

  2. Bill Howe says:

    Ah, one of my fave games of all time too; racing the Honda Accord, in the pouring rain at Thruxton, Donnington Park, the old Silverstone and of course, Brands Hatch (Indy).

    And I agree, getting punted from behind after making a clean start was/is infuriating.

    Tiff sounds the same on Fifth Gear now as he did back then.

    Anyway, nowadays it’s Friday night games with GT5/6 with 5 to 15 online racers. We all have force feedback steering wheel cockpit setups, headsets and have a good laugh until the server fails and we get booted off….



    January 10th, 2014 at 3:34 pm