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SEGA Touring Car Championship Review (PC Version)

I’m pretty sure SEGA have never made a bad driving game. I certainly can’t think of one. It makes you wonder why they don’t make them more often. The mid-nineties was a great time for driving games with such classics like Virtua Racing, Daytona USA and SEGA Rally Championship. SEGA Touring Car Championship is not a name that most will instantly remember. But like those racers listed above, it is another fantastic game that driving fans should check out.

Touring plays similarly to SEGA Rally Championship except without the off-road element. Pick one of four licensed cars (3 with extra liveries, a nice touch) and race them across a succession of four courses with a qualifying lap of the first course which determines your starting position. Once you begin racing your job is to work yourself up to the first position but doing so will more than likely be obtainable in the final race. This is because races are more of a time trial than actually racing the other cars on the circuit.

This is where the game’s main challenge comes from. While each course is progressively trickier, the real difficulty is learning them all inside-out so you can nail the best time possible in each course. This is going to take some dedication because diving straight in will cause you to fail. Hard.

Computer AI is absolutely through-the-roof in Touring. Your rivals pick the perfect line and are incredibly aggressive to you when you try and overtake. Patience and smart braking is the key to getting past this boisterous lot. Touring is certainly not a game made for accessibility. Beginners will find Touring’s approach to racing remarkably difficult but a bit of perseverance will go a long way.

Cars handle magnificently and are very responsive. Never too sensitive, but never too heavy and sluggish. Enough can’t be said as to how perfect the handling of the cars is. However, it’s a little bit of a shame that all the cars seem to handle the same, making the car selection more aesthetic than anything.

The PC version also has 2 modes of play; PC Side and Arcade Side. PC Side allows you to tackle every mode and track from the word ‘go’ as everything is already unlocked. Arcade Side allows you to progress through each mode individually. Placing first in each mode is the key to unlocking the next. This feature is a nice touch but having everything unlocked in PC Side detracts from the challenge of the game. But only slightly.

Further more, not a lot has been done to increase the playtime over the Arcade game other than progressively unlocking each mode. This makes Touring a rather short-lived experience. But again, this doesn’t prove to be too much of a problem as the gameplay is so spot-on that you will probably want to replay the game anyway.

Presentation is at the usual high-standard you can expect from SEGA. Graphically, Touring is very pretty for its’ time. All tracks and cars are well rendered with some surprisingly detailed textures. The draw distance is also remarkably long for a 32 bit release which makes the game a lot simpler to play. As for the soundtrack, this is easily the best collection of SEGA driving tunes featured in a game. Touring’s soundtrack is sublime and could have only be written the 90s. Each track has a thumping, dance anthem which keeps you on your toes when you’re playing. I’d play this game for the soundtrack alone if the gameplay wasn’t so good.

So there you have it. Another superb SEGA racer with excellent controls, a brilliant sense of speed, great graphics and one of the best soundtracks featured in a game. If only the experience wasn’t so short…


Written by Sonic Yoda on 23/08/2009




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