Not to be confused with ToCA 2 Touring Cars, this game is a challenging but ultimately highly rewarding race driving simulator. In the game, you will work your way up the professional driving career ladder by taking part in all kinds of different motorsport disciplines. The game was very well received on release and has aged well, with a realistic but not too intimidating handling model and graphics that still hold up reasonably well more than ten years later. Unfortunately, Codemasters made the disappointing decision to burden this game with Starforce copy protection, making it particularly difficult to play on modern PCs.
The curse of Starforce
Starforce is an aggressive, consumer-unfriendly form of DRM (digital rights management). It is designed to make pirating games as difficult as possible with little regard for any other consequences. Starforce goes to the extraordinary lengths of installing a low level driver software or “root kit” on your PC. Many users believe that this software degraded the performance of their PCs, with some going as far as to claim that the anti-copying software actually damaged optical drives on their systems. Due to security improvements in Windows 7 and 8, Starforce is unlikely to work on Windows 7 machines and doesn’t work on Windows 8 at all. According to some reports, trying to install it can actually prevent Windows 8 from booting. This means that any game that’s Starforce protected will have compatibility issues on more modern PCs simply because of the presence of Starforce. It’s little wonder many gamers decided to boycott any and all games released with this draconian DRM in the first place.
It’s possible to play ToCA Race Driver 2 on a modern PC by first removing the Starforce protection. Unfortunately, since we can’t risk the wrath of the
evil entirely morally justified copyright lawyers, we can’t provide links to files which remove copy protection, even when it’s the only way to play a game. We’ll give you as many clues as we dare, but the rest is up to you.
If you want to go ahead and try and install this game on your modern PC, it’s important that you do NOT try and run the game until you have removed the Starforce infected files. If you do accidentally infect your system, you can download a removal tool here (find the link under “2. Versions before 5.5”).
Start by inserting the DVD into your computers optical drive. When the autorun window opens, choose “Install or run program from your media”. If the autorun window does not appear, browse to the DVD in Computer/This PC and run the “Autorun.exe” file manually. A small “ToCA Race Driver 2” window should now open. Click on “Install” to start the installation process. Follow the on-screen prompts to install the game. When asked what type of installation you want to do, you should chose a “Full” installation. Do not reinstall DirectX 9 and do not install Gamespy Arcade, as this service no longer works.
After the installation is completed, exit the ToCA Race Driver 2 launcher menu. Do NOT try to start the game yet. Instead, move on to patching.
There was just one patch released for the game and you should make sure to install it before trying to play. Download the 1.2 patch from Patches Scrolls here. Make sure you download the universal version of the patch and not the Russian only patch. The patch is downloaded as a Zip file, simply run the RD2V12UPGRADE.exe from inside the Zip file and the patch will be applied automatically.
Saying sayonara to Starforce – As we established above, to play the game on a modern PC we need to rid ourselves of the pesky Starforce first. You will need to Google search for a ToCA Race Driver 2 No-CD patch. Unfortunately we cannot link to a patch like this. We’ll give you a couple of pointers however. Firstly, virus check anything you download. You can use an online virus checker and upload a file here. Secondly, if the game simply doesn’t start after you copy over a cracked executable, you have a bad crack. We found a file that described itself as being a “Win2K and NO CD” fix worked well.
Configuring and tweaking visual quality
The next step is to configure the games graphics. Open the Start menu or Start screen and search for “setup toca race driver 2”, and run the program that you find. The ToCA Race Driver 2 Hardware Setup program will now launch, as shown below.
“Graphics Device” should be selected for you. If you have a laptop or other system with a dual GPU, ensure that your main gaming graphics device (usually NVIDIA or ATI) is selected.
Below this option is the Screen Mode setting. Generally you want to set this as high as possible, depending on what your monitor supports. Notice that you cannot select widescreen resolutions such as 1080p (1920×1080). We’ll look at some workarounds for this in a moment.
The “Graphics Detail” slider can be bumped all the way to the right on most modern PCs. If you find the game doesn’t run smoothly, come back to the hardware setup again and move this slider down a couple of notches, but as with most old games, ToCA Race Driver 2 will run on most modern PCs at full quality settings without a hitch.
While we’re here, lets take a look at the advanced graphics settings. Click the “Advanced Settings…” button and the following window will appear.
Most of the settings will already be set to their maximum if you already turned the graphics detail to the maximum setting on the previous window. There are a few other things you can turn on here though. “High Quality Sun Flares”, for instance, is not turned on by default. There’s also the option to “Lock Frame Rate”. Usually if your PC is comfortably fast enough to run a game, you would select this option. However in our tests it seemed to cause the game to occasionally stutter for a micro-second, so try leaving this setting disabled for now.
Click on “Save and Exit” when you are done. The game will now present a simple graphics test which should show a spinning cube. Actually, on our test machine this test often failed to display properly, so don’t worry too much if it doesn’t work. After the test is complete, the program will ask you if you saw a spinning cube, just click “Yes”.
Just a note for those more adventurous PC gamers who are thinking of trying other options in their graphics cards control panel, such as forced antialiasing. We tried this option on our Nvidia card and it didn’t seem to have much of an effect. Worse still, it caused minor glitches whereby rival racers could be seen through the track side scenery.
Tweaking sound quality
Sound options can also be configured from the configuration utility. Click on the “Sound” tab at the top and the following options will appear.
Typically you can simply set the sound quality to “Ultra” and leave the other settings as they are.
Restoring surround sound with ALchemy – Like many older games, ToCA Race Driver 2 also supports EAX environmental audio. Since support for hardware accelerated audio and EAX was removed in Windows Vista, this option will not be available when running the game on modern versions of Windows. If you have an EAX capable sound card in your system, you can use the Creative ALchemy software to restore hardware accelerated audio capability to this game. To do this, first start the ALchemy tool. Now, from the main program window, click on “Add”. Enter the name of the game in the Game Title box (ToCA Racer Driver 2) and then choose the “Use Game Path” option and browse to the ToCA Race Driver 2 game folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Codemasters\Race Driver 2 by default). Leave all the other options as the defaults and click on “OK”. Finally, choose “ToCA Racer Driver 2” from the list on the left of the ALchemy window and click on the “>>” button. The game should now appear on the list of “ALchemy-enabled Games” on the right.
With ALchemy enabled, you can start ToCA Racer Driver 2 and go to “Options” and then “Sound”. You should then be able to confirm that EAX Environmental Audio is on.
TOcA Race Driver 2 works well with both gamepads and, for those more serious simulation drivers, racing wheels too. The game recognised our Xbox 360 controller and allowed us to map all the inputs easily. There’s one serious drawback of using the 360 controller however. For some reason, when playing older, direct input games, Microsoft made the two analogue triggers on the 360 controller represent the same axis. What this means is you cannot accelerate and brake at the same time. If you want to try some advanced fancy driving moves like power slides etc, then you need to be aware of this limitation. You can use a tool like Xpadder to map keyboard presses to the triggers instead, but then your brake and throttle will be entirely digital, so there would be no difference between gently squeezing the brakes and slamming them on, for instance. If this limitation isn’t acceptable, you might want to look at one of Logitech’s PC game controllers or, of course, a dedicated racing wheel.
While you can configure your driving controls easily in-game, you will still need to reach to the keyboard to manipulate the menus. For that complete couch gaming experience, we can use our old friend Xpadder. Below is a screenshot of our Xpadder profile for the game.
Pretty basic stuff. Mapping the arrow keys to the D-pad allows us to navigate the menus. Escape is mapped to start, allowing you to pause the game. Finally, enter is mapped to the A button, so that menu choices can be confirmed.
Playing in Widescreen
If you want to play ToCA Race Driver 2 in widescreen there are two things you need to do. Firstly, you need to edit a configuration file. Secondly you need to find a specially hacked executable that fixes the graphics and prevents them being stretched out of proportion. We found a link to the hacked executables in the notes on a ToCA Race Driver 2 tutorial video on Youtube. These hacked widescreen executables also remove the games copy protection so unfortunately we can’t link to them directly. Note that even with this patched executable, the games cut-scenes will still be stretched.
If you can find the widescreen hack, you simply need to copy the appropriate RD2.exe file from the widescreen archive to your ToCA Race Driver 2 installation folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Codemasters\Race Driver 2 by default). Make a backup of the existing RD2.exe before you do this, name it something like RD43.exe.
Now, edit the configuration file called “pchardwareconfig.ini”, also in the “ToCA Race Driver 2” installation folder. Open the file in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re not familiar with editing configuration files, see this tutorial. Find the lines “FullScreenHeight” and “FullScreenWidth” and change their values to suit your monitor. For a 1080p monitor or TV, for instance, you would use “FullScreenWidth=1920” and “FullScreenHeight=1080” (do not copy the quotation marks). Save the file when you are done editing it. If you have difficulty saving the file, see the troubleshooting section under “Problems saving games and configuration files”.
Multiplayer and other notes
The servers that facilitated multiplayer matches on the internet have long since shut down for this game. However, it may still be possible to play a local network game if you have two computers in your home and two copies of the game. We have not tested this however.
The awesome PC gaming utility Evolve supports ToCA Race Driver 2, allowing you to message and voice chat with your friends, take screen shots and videos and surf the web all without having to go back to the desktop.
Micro-stuttering in game – If the game seems to stutter for a tiny fraction of a second or doesn’t feel entirely smooth, try toggling the “Lock Frame Rate” option in the Advanced Settings window (see “Configuring and tweaking visual quality” above).
Missing menu elements – Sometimes when playing the widescreen version of the game certain menu elements will be invisible. If this happens, exit the game, load the old non-widescreen version that you backed up previously, set the options you want to change then exit and restart the game in widescreen mode again.
Problems saving games and configuration files – Like many old titles, ToCA Race Driver 2 saves its game data and player profiles into the same folder as the game itself. In some instances on more modern versions of Windows, this will mean that save games cannot be written. To solve this problem you can either run the game as administrator (right click on the games icon and choose “Run as administrator”) or, better still, set the permissions on your game folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here. The games default installation directory is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Codemasters\Race Driver 2”.
Thanks to user VirtuaIceMan over on the Vogons.org forums for the original compatibility guide that most of this article is based on.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.