08/08/2017 (Tue) 22:49:23
I don't know about the series after DIRT came out but on the old ones the one thing that kept me pushing through was the physics engine and damage model with the crazy tracks you see in rally races. Granted the damage model was nowhere near as complex as TOCA back then, but it worked. Interestingly enough DIRT and TOCA was both deved by Codemasters.
With that said there are some older simulator racing games without fancy damage models or physics engines that I liked that are not Gran turismo 1-3. One such entry I remember the most is Sega GT Racing 2002. That game took everything I liked about Gran Turismo, and other driving sims out at the time as well as the track variety seen in Rally Racing sims such as the previously mentioned CMrR series.
Granted you didn't see high profile Formula 1 races like you did in TOCA, nor the similarly high profile sports car races from Gran Turismo, but it threw interesting things into the mix. There was an old school muscle car racing campaign, there was racing in snowy slippery roads, racing through towns with really tight corners, hatchback races, with the car's equipment needed to be changed for the occasion. So on and so forth, but what really set it apart at the time was that Sega GT unlike 4 actually had your equipment not just wear down through use, but actual damage you incur during a race.
Additionally in the campaign you have a damage meter, and the less damage you do to your car, the more money you get. Some races and events even net you cars, pieces and cash prices you can only get by going through a race with your car unscratched. It really added to not just replayability, but also made grinding a non-issue if you were skilled enough. Honestly I never found myself grinding to finish Sega GT 2002 in terms of repeating missions, but actually becoming skilled enough to complete difficult races unscathed so I could get special cars or bonus parts.
Very few racing games feel the way Sega GT 2002 does and I highly recommend it, it's not realistic like TOCA 2, but it's definitely a very solid "career racing" game.