DTM Race Driver
DTM Race Driver, Pro Race Driver, Toca Race Driver, V8 Super Cars … different titles for one and the same game. And is the game as multi-layered as all its titles suggest? Let’s find out.
Race games are pretty much obliged to stick to the same format: cars + tracks + the possibility to tune the car -> then race. Sounds boring… and lets be honest, after a while it does get boring. But the boys over at Codemasters came up with something to put a breath of fresh air into their newest (well ok, the PS2 version is already 6 months old) race-creation … a storyline! You, the player, are Ryan McKane, the youngest sprig of a famous racing family. Your destiny was set out even before you were born… you are a champion and the next racing-legend-to-be.
The game starts out dramatically as you see your father deliberately crashed, burned and cremated on the racetrack, right in front of your eyes. Then and there, you just know that Ryan will carry a chip on his shoulder for the rest of his racing days.
And what did I say, yup… 15 years later and you, Ryan, have a serious attitude problem thinking that you are Gods gift to Earth. (And being men, we are only too keen to believe that – after all, is there anyone out there that could possibly be a better driver? Don’t think so! ).
The storyline the creative minds have come up with is rather traditional. Subconsiously you crave some kind of revenge for your fathers death, you just ‘know’ you are the best driver out there, you’ve got a hate/love relationship with your older -and more succesful- brother who is quite patronizing, you have arguments with your boss and to top it off… you fall in love with a beautiful girl called Melanie.
But what’s important is that the cutscenes are evenly distributed during the game, they don’t disturb the ‘ambiance’ of the game and they don’t get annoying after a while. Granted, the pitsmodels (more commonly known as ‘hot babes’) walk around like pregnant ducks, but they do the trick of lightening up the pitlanes and startinggrids.
But how about the gameplay, any innovations? Frankly, no. But bare in mind: this is what Codemasters do – create the best race games out there (e.g. former Toca series & the Colin McRae series). But having already brought out standard setting games, kind of puts a mortgage and very high expectations on the next title. DTM Race Driver is build upon that strong legacy and it confirms all the excellent gameplay we’ve grown accustomed to. To put it simple: DTM race Driver is a fun game to play and it will keep you entertained for hours and hours and … then some.
DTM features loads of different possibilities. There are no less than 13 different competitions to start of with, ranging from the well-known ToCA and DTM championships to the lesser known Alfa GTV Cup, the America Series etc… and lets not forget the southernmost God-save-the-Queen singing championship: the V8 Supercars, known to every kangeroo as the “I-try-but-cannot-outhop-that-brightly-painted-metal-thing”-championship.
To make it easy on the player, the game-designers have opted for different modes to play DTM. You can go for a ‘free race’ – choose a track, determine the weather and quantity of laps you want, pick a car and race. Although there are enough possibilities to keep you occupied for quite a while, some tracks and cars remain locked away, untill you unlock them through the careermode that is. It’s in this mode that you get to be the (slightly) arrogant Ryan McKane trying to race himself to the top. Winning -or finishing high ranked- means money, status, and … women.
Unfortunately, the AI is not flawless which can be felt quite early on in the game. And it’s quite hard to explain to you what ‘feels’ wrong about it. For instance: you can finetune your vehicle as much as you want –and it is adviced by a clever voice-over of your teamleader- you will still encounter opposition from your opponents in a bizar kind of way. Drive a car with default settings or finetune your beast as much as you can, but some of your co-racers will kick your butt, no matter what. Sometimes that gets extremely annoying, but on the other hand… it means that the game remains a (fun) challenge.
Another thing that could perhaps be fixed through a patch is the Force Feedback. It’s not ‘strong’ enough. I had to change both the settings of my steering wheel and the ingame settings to the max to feel the curbs and turns. As I said, I hope they can patch that.
Another element that contributes to the fun-factor of DTM is all the huge amount of licences the productionteam of Codemasters have procured. Most well-known cars are included and even have their own championship (Alfa Romeo, Saab, …). And lets not forget the more than 35 officially licensed racingtracks. It definitely contributes to the fun-factor of DTM. Next to that, after playing a couple of hours, you’ll be sure to drink Coca-Cola, use Bosch sparkplugs and drive with Pirelli-tyres… (for Belgians – you’ll recognise the Proximus ads on the Zolder racing track). Productplacement at its best, ladies and gentlemen. And to be honest, it doesn’t disturb me at all, quite the opposite, it enhances the correct ‘ambiance’ of a championship in all its levels.
The sound is superb, no question about it. Well balanced, very very detailed, cool enginesounds… the works. If you have a surroundsystem: use it! (and cranck that subwoofer up a notch!).
But what is perhaps the best feature of DTM (next to the fun racing) are the graphics. Excellent work has been done here. The cars, the shading, the trees, the grass, the tarmac… beautifully detailed. Best I have ever seen in a racing game. Add to that the realistic car damage model that turns your car in a hideous metal carcas after a crash… very very well done. Just one itsy-witsy small critical note: the whole world knows that in general British women aren’t the best looking women around… so I’d employ an Italian graphic artist to work on the babes faces next time 😉
In conclusion: the developers over at Codemaster knew they had to do something to put the ‘funfactor’ back into racing games, so that we would keep playing them. So they put in a story, good thing! And although the storyline is somewhat of a safe-bet for Codemasters, I think we’ll see some evolution in that area in the near future. Next to that, the graphics make DTM a new standard in the racinggame genre. The competition will have a hard time catching up. All in all, a fun game to play, both on your own and on LAN-parties!