Toro is a bullfighting simulator developed by Rectotechnology S.L. The game promises to challenge your skills and reflexes against an array of dangerous bulls worldwide, as you face the beast with style and excitement. Sadly however, the game fails to do any of that. In fact Toro is one of the worst games I’ve ever played on so many different levels. Pulling a single redeeming value from this game would be harder than being thrown in the ring and facing a bull myself. From top to bottom Toro is a miserable failure. Making a bullfighting simulator video game is hard enough, since the idea doesn’t really translate into video game mechanics that well. If someone made a bird watching simulator, it probably would be darn-near impossible to pull off. But maybe if the game was gorgeous, immersive, and well designed, it could find a niche small audience. It’s the same for a bullfighting sim, maybe it could work if done right. But that is certainly not this game, all of Toro reeks of complete bullshit.
The most important thing in any video game is the gameplay itself. It needs to be fun and have depth. If it’s a puzzle game, it has to inspire and give the player “eureka” moments of joy. If it’s a fighting game, it needs to have complex but fulfilling actions that give the player a sense of achievement. If it’s a shooter, it needs to feel crisp and give the player satisfaction with every pull of the trigger. Every game in every genre needs to have fun deep gameplay. Toro falls flat in its face in this regard. To face the bull you do two things, call the bull towards you, and then press a couple buttons to do a “pass”, which is a style of move to avoid the bull. That’s it. Call the bull, double tap X. Call the bull, press X and B, call the bull, double tap X again. Often there are times when I failed to time it correctly, but the bull ran right through me. Other times it should have worked just fine but I was run over for who knows why. This goes on until you enrage the bull, and you do this for three minute rounds.
If you successfully avoid the bull after a few runs, the game goes into a clumsy quick time event. In this event the game doesn’t change at all, you don’t do a cool move or anything different in any way. The bull and your character look exactly like they did when you were doing normal passes with your double X nonsense. As you successfully press the button for the quick time event, the bull runs right by you and you wave your flag just like normal. Why is there a quick time event when nothing changes? Why am I not still playing the game normally? I honestly don’t see the point. In a normal game, in a good game, a quick time event is in place of something that cannot be done in the normal gameplay. For example, let’s say you’re playing a star wars game as a Jedi. In the normal gameplay you can attack with your lightsabor, dodge and parry, use the force, and jump about. However, what if you are going up against an AT-AT Walker? (A giant walking tank) Well, the developer can choose to use a quick time event for something like this. Get close enough to the Walker and jump underneath it, suddenly the game tells you to press A, if done so correctly your Jedi starts climbing up the leg of the Walker! Now press B, your Jedi reflects a blaster shot from a nearby enemy while continuing to run up the leg! Now click A, your Jedi flips in the air and slices the power source of the Walker and it explodes with epic glory! This is what quit time events are for. Yes, the developer could have programmed it so you’d just slash away at the legs of the Walker till it falls. But it might be more satisfying and more fun to allow the player to do new and thrilling moves to take down the enemy with flashiness. Jedi’s can do some really crazy stuff can’t they? Now as soon as this quick time event is over, the game will go back to the normal, yet still rewarding gameplay with your saber in hand. But for Toro, the quick time event is literally the same thing as the normal gameplay. In my Star Wars example, it would be like if in the middle of fighting off stormtroopers with your lightsaber, the game goes into a quick time event were you just kill more stormtroopers with your lightsaber. What’s the point?
If the bull “gores” you, nothing happens. You’re in game character doesn’t get hurt. You don’t have a life meter. There’s not injury. There’s nothing. Even the sound effect is pathetic. If the bull gores you, it sounds like someone throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall. There’s a small noise and the crowd makes an “oooh” reaction. Then you get right back up and continue tormenting the bull. IT’S A GIANT 1,500 POUND BEHEMOTH WITH SPEARS ATTACHED TO ITS SKULL! Yet you get run over by it over and over and over and shrug it off like it’s a freakin’ bag of cotton candy. They call it GORE for a reason don’t they? There’s no suspense in trying to avoid the monster. There’s no satisfaction in fighting him off. It’s like you’re playing bumper cars or something, oh wait it’s nothing like that at all, bumper cars is actually fun.
The first and third rounds play exactly the same; call the bull, double tap x, occasional boring quick time event. The second and fourth rounds are more quick time events that last only about five seconds. In round three you places cones on the back of the bull, the quick time event does all the work. And in the final round you stab the bull with a sword, the quick time event again doing the work. It’s strange however since you don’t see the bull once you thrust the sword. As soon as you finish the quick time event, a small crosshair appears, but it’s another ridiculous design choice because the crosshair is always at the perfect spot as soon as it starts. You don’t need to line up anything, just press A as soon as the cross hair appears and you’re all set. And when you do hit the bull, instantly the bull is out of the picture and the screen pans to your bullfighter who is soaking in the applause. Maybe they didn’t want to look cruel? Maybe they didn’t want to do the work to show the stabbed bull? Either way it feels empty and strange and unrewarding.
Speaking of empty, that’s a perfect word to describe something that is hard to put into words about Toro, but I’ll do my best. The game is just so quiet and empty. There are seconds that go by where there is literally no sound whatsoever. To go along with the horrid graphics, which I’ll talk about shortly, this emptiness creates an almost eerie sense of loneliness. There’s no life in this game. There’s no heart. It’s not to say that the developers didn’t create the game with heart, it just doesn’t come out in the final product at all. Hearing the same sound effects over and over started to drive me mad! The tennis ball sound when I get gored, the same “hut” every time I call the bull, the same exact sound of the crowd cheering for 2 seconds and then instantly disappearing again is repetitive and obnoxious at best.
After completing matches you unlock more bullrings to fight in and more costumes to wear. The customization is lackluster. While character customization is sometimes a great way to make the player feel involved, if it’s not fleshed out it can actually push the player away from that emersion. There is just one face to choose from, a few different hair styles and colors, and different lengths of sideburns that they comically call facial hair. Why can’t a pick between a handful of faces? I understand they want to make the game look in-line with what real bullfighters look like, so no Amish-style beard allowed. But why have customization at all then? Other than your actual character, there are several costumes to choose from once you unlock them. These look fine and you can adjust their colors.
Once unlocked, there are two mini-games to play. For 2 seconds anyway, they are more fun than the real game, but after those two seconds you realize they are as repetitive and boring as a Dora the Explorer episode. I GET IT YOU’RE THE FREAKIN’ MAP YOU DON’T GOTTA SAY IT 74 TIMES! But an episode of Dora is still 700 million times more entertaining than Toro. The first mini game had some promise; you play as the bull, build up power, and launch the bullfighter into the sky hundreds of feet. It’s funny the first and maybe second time but that’s it. Again they have the exact same sound effects over and over and there’s no strategy or fun in the gameplay. Once you do it a couple times there’s no reason to try it again. What am I saying there’s no reason to try it in the first place! The second mini game you play as the bull again, you run down a hallway with double doors at the end. You aim the bull left or right to make it through the doorway and you press, “A, B, X, or Y”, whatever it asks you to press, to open the doors. Three major problems. One, it’s obvious you’re not moving the bull, you’re actually moving the entire screen left or right and it just looks offsetting. Two, it’s like a dumbed down even more boring and repetitive and ridiculously easy version of flappy bird. And three, you can cheat the game. It asks you to press a button, but in reality you can press any button you want as long as you press the correct one as well. Meaning you can just continually press all four of the buttons nonstop and you will always open the doors and run through, there’s no penalty for pressing the wrong ones.
The graphics in Toro literally the worst I’ve ever seen on a console post 2000. And who cares if a game doesn’t look that great in 1997, that was the technology of the day. This is 2015! I could easily compare the graphics of Toro to the Sega Dreamcast, and that’s not hyperbole. There are Dreamcast games that look better than Toro. I think that really sums it up just fine, but for the sake of explanation I’ll put it this way. The animations are appalling. The textures and details are nonexistent. 99% of the crowd doesn’t move, making the 1% that does move stand out in the worst way possible. There bullfighter and the bull’s faces don’t move at all, frozen in a perpetual state of stupidity. The sound effects are actually almost creepy. I don’t want to continue, it’s painful for my finger tips to express it all.
Toro is a mess. I don’t even want to call it a video game. I’d rather succumb to Chinese water torture than play another minute of this abomination. I probably shouldn’t be putting this on the internet for the world to see, but if anyone wants to torture me, make me play Toro. Within seconds I’ll be on the floor balling my eyes out and telling you everything you need to know. It might sound harsh, but Toro is that bad of a game. I’m ashamed that the game is on the Xbox One. It shouldn’t even be free to play let alone a game someone would need to purchase to play. The Xbox team should be embarrassed for letting this game enter its marketplace. Whole consoles, like the Wii for example, have truly suffered due to shovelware. The entire gaming industry fell apart due to shovelware in the video game crash of 1983. Toro does teach what bullrighting is about. It has information of the different types of bulls, the different passes that are performed and what the “sport” is like. But if you want any of that information, look on the internet, in books, or wherever. But stay away from Toro. To be blunt, the game should be gored by a bull and left to rot in video game obscurity as one of the worst games in video game history.
1) Boring and repetitive gameplay
2) Awful game design
3) Terrible graphics, three generations old.
4) Just everything…