London commuters this morning were both horrified and appalled to read about an "irresponsible" new videogame seemingly encouraging dangerous, reckless driving around the M25 - the busiest traffic-mangling motorway in the country.
According to the Metro newspaper, "ToCA Race Driver 3 players can speed at up to 165mph [on the M25], overtaking lorries on the inside lane in V8 supercars around the world's first orbital motorway". So engulfed with potential moral outrage was the paper, it contacted an RAC road safety consultant, Robin Cummins, for his take on the game.
"The M25 is known for the many accidents caused by excessive speed," Cummins explained. "It is irresponsible for manufacturers to use it in this way. ToCa Race Driver 3 is targeted at a young age group who are generally new or inexperienced drivers. They may find it difficult to differentiate between reality and fiction."
When questioned by the Metro as to ToCA 3's ability to allow players to recreate the illegal streets races documented on the M25 when it first opened, a Codemasters spokesperson confirmed that indeed, "London's M25 became the perfect illegal race circuit. Speed-hungry drivers would compete late at night to see who could complete a lap closest to an hour. In ToCa Race Driver 3, the 500 professional cars means a lap can be completed in 42 minutes."
Of course, there's only one problem with this whole story - and it's pretty obvious to anyone who's played the game. ToCA 3 doesn't have any such M25 circuit in its racing roster - and, trust us, we made absolutely sure of this when we spoke to a Codemasters' spokesperson this morning. It seems that the seeds of the Metro's story were sown when the paper recieved a mysteriously "leaked" screenshot - actually, make that "screenshot" - from an unnamed source. You can see the picture in all its blatantly Photoshopped glory on this page.
So then, one question yet remains. Codemasters: purveyors of harmful, irresponsible filth or Black Ninjas in the subtle art of marketing subterfuge? You decide.