DTM Race Driver 2
A couple of years ago the original DTM/TOCA Race Driver surprised friends and enemies by having some refreshing features. The biggest one was the introduction of a true story mode in a race sim. This came together with a whole pack of cars, circuits and eye blinding graphics. The expectations for the sequel are high so let’s see whether DTM2 can fill’em in !
Ryan McKane is history, it’s time a new guy again climbs the ladder of success! That’s the first message you get when starting up the game. You start with a new (nameless) character and the devs hope the player will identify himself more with this main person.
After making a profile I’m instantly thrown in a race. Showing off my driving skills, I end up one round later with a heavily damaged car. Of course I get yelled at by my race engineer. This is one of the many in-game movies that will display the storyline and they are of high quality and shine a certain atmosphere that makes the entire game more humane. Instead of being the x’th racing game, DTM has the possibility to grow out to something more, a game with background story. Something we always applaud.
While the story continues, new characters will enter like a financial advisor. In the beginning you’ll have to proove yourself after which you’ll need to collect enough cash to compete in the big races. Luckily, there are also some more challenging missions but I’m not going to tell about them to make sure I don’t spoil the fun.
Next to the storyline, another strong point is the enormous variety of available races. You can get in a legendary Ford GT, Mustand or Formula Ford, race the circuit in a super truck or a F1-car. Going off road with a jeep or true rally car, or playing one of the ice race challenges are also possibilities. In short: plenty of choice in this game. By progressing in career mode you can unlock these different race types and then you can also play them outside career mode aswell.
There’s 15 different types of races, mostly divided into specific types (like trucks and pick-up’s) which makes a total of 31. Take all this, spread over 50 circuits, and you’ll know things are quite ok. You’ll be able to race on classics like Laguna Seca, Hockenheim, Zandvoort and the A1-ring but – and it’s a big “but” – our own pride Zolder isn’t present this time ! “Why” is a big mistery (lazyness, tobacco restrictions or conflict over the rights, … who will say) but this definitely disappoints me.
This all could of course never get any justice if there wouldn’t be much to see on the graphics part. Luckily, DTM2 is one of the present graphical miracles and the game doesn’t have any problems showing the latest wonders on your screen. The circuits have been worked out beautifully, but the audience does disappoint quite a lot.
The cars reflect the sunlight realistically and are true pearls to watch in a replay after the race. The damage model has been improved a lot aswell compared to the original. The pieces fly off like they would in the real world and when doing a frontal kiss with the wall, the race is over. Still, it does happen that your gears will give problems after only a short hit but all in all we certainly can’t complain. I don’t think there are many games on the market with a damage model like this.
Most of the cars also have a different control. Formula Ford makes me think of a lawnmower (also by the sound) and with a truck you’ll need to break a lot sooner than with a modern speedy flyer if you don’t want to end up in the grass.
But, and this is the biggest “but” in the game, I wonder whether they’ve tested the sound at Codemasters. My personal experiences with the sound consist of cracks with from time to time some realistic sounds. Without cracks the sound must have been pretty good but now you’ll have a hard time listening to it. I thought my speakers were dying but after a check on some of the forums I found enough gamers with the exact same symptoms to conclude that it’s caused by a bug. Let’s hope a patch will resolve this. Or is the problem only located in the promo copies for the press ?
Finally there’s the multiplayer. This works with an outstanding point system where you start off with 1500 and some will be added or reduced depending on your results and driving attitude. This way you’ll have a clear overview of who drives fair and where the suicide racers are. I did have to manage quite a lot with lag which doesn’t increase realistic driving.
This game takes the lead in being the best race simulator due to its realistic physics, control and graphics aswell as the diversity of cars and circuits. The well-thought multiplayer mode is also definitely worth the trouble but the absense of Zolder and the cracking noises do put back the score a bit. Still a topgame when it comes to racing !