If you ask most Australians what their favorite cars are, they are going to say either Holden or Ford - it's just an Australian thing to do. A company named AVESCO a decade ago capitalised on this and formed a new form of motor sport in Australia which pitches the two main models together; the Holden Commodore's and the Ford Falcon's. It has become one of the biggest motor sport events in the world and takes in some of the most picturesque country side the land down under has to offer. For so long a game was not available for this series but the racing game genius's Codemasters seem to know a big idea when they see it and jumped on board. This is now their third attempt, and it looks like they may finally have got everything right.
V8 Supercars 3, otherwise known as Toca Race Driver 3, features more than just V8's. In fact, V8 Supercars make up about five percent of the racing on offer. To say this is the most complete racing game ever made is a big call, but Codemasters have poured years of development into this title and it really has paid off. There is a variety of game modes to choose from such as the pro career and for the first time the ability to play through actual seasons individually. For those who want a quick race or hot lap challenge, then Codemasters hasn't forgotten you either.
The Pro Career is where most of the action happens and this has been overhauled for the third game. Rather than having to gain a set amount of points to be offered a higher drive, you have to place usually in the top three or four of a class in each tier. You are no longer forced into a series and always have a choice of at least two classes, except for the highest racing level in the game. Another thing Codemasters has dumped is the requirement to finish first to progress. This has allowed them to increase the AI ability without actually making the game insanely hard.
In terms of car series on offer, there is something for everything here ranging from sedan racing through to open wheelers. A lot of the series are now licensed and include some very niche tournaments from around the world such as the BMW F3000 series. Other series include unique rules such as a temporary boost and Codemasters have included this in the game, making it not only authentic but much more of a challenge.
The other big change Codemasters has made is allowing V8 Supercars to race on tracks outside Australia. The Chinese track is included for the first time and so is Symmons Plains, but you can actually race the V8's on some of the most famous tracks in the world. However this only comes as a bonus and you have to work quite hard to unlock it, or pay for cheats on Codemaster's website. Most of the tracks have carried over from the past game but have been improved in terms of graphics, especially Bathurst, and all the tracks in the game offer a varying challenge depending on the make of car you're driving.
The racing in the game is fast and furious. Codemasters have produced some of the best visual effects to carry the feeling of speed quite well. Even in the lower ranks you will, at times, feel out of control due to the high speeds. The AI has been significantly improved as well. Rather than just crashing into accidents, they will swerve and dodge if possible and if you put enough pressure on them, they do make mistakes. This is what makes V8 Supercars 3 an excellent game to play, even in the single player modes.
However for those who do have a desire for multiplayer, Codemasters has included the online features for PS2 as the option. Those who pick up the Xbox Version will obviously connect via Xbox Live. The only downside to the Australian version of the game is that the servers are not hosted locally and thus lag can become an issue. If you plan to play online we definitely recommend the Xbox version over PS2.
Visually the game is quite well done as well. There are sometimes where the game can feel grainy and uninspiring but in the area it matters, the V8 cars and tracks in the game are second to none. Codemasters have reproduced the 2005 liveries to the nth degree and the updated and new tracks feel right at home. The Chinese track looks much better than it does in Sony's official F1 game, showing how much time and effort the developers have put into the visuals. Another indication is the crash model. The cars now have individual impact points and the cars react accordingly. The cars can also sustain damage from poor driving such as worn tyres as well. The sound effects are also brilliant with high pitched engine noises, shattering glass and other realistic sounds.
V8 Supercars 3 is a pretty much must own game for Australian racing gamers and also offers a lot more bang for buck than just the local series. Codemasters have produced one of the finest and complete racing games ever made and even if you don't like the V8 Supercars (Are you Australian?) then you will find something to like in this huge plethora of racing series. Absolutely positively must buy title!