With video games aging as fast as they do it is not a surprise to see a series reach it’s sixth or seventh game already, in fact some series’ have evolved into their pre-teens already such as Final Fantasy. On the other hand there are some series’ that should know when to quit while they were ahead, or at least do something to keep them fresh. With that said Test Drive is guilty of both crimes, such in that it should have quit on part five when the series hit it’s peak or at least capitalized on what made part five such a great game. Unfortunately we are given another go, and to say the least it was less than exceptional.
Where do I begin? Ok I know we will start with the good points so we can get those out of the way and make the complaining a little easier to swallow. The best feature in Test Drive is definitely the cop chase mode. Being the long arm of the law is what it’s all about. You are given your choice of souped up law enforcement vehicles and six speeding bullets to catch. The premise is to take them all out before they reach the finish, easier said than done yet still a blast to play. Another good thing about Test Drive is definitely the replays, they make the game look so good. Smooth frame rate and gorgeous textures flourish the reward for finishing the race, all of this goodness with only one price to pay…
…the game play. What can I say, I was less than impressed when I started taking corners in my shiny new racer. Floaty power braking and slippery turning make this game’s learning curve higher than GTA Vice City’s hype meter. You will spend countless races attempting to figure out how to keep your vehicle on the road while playing tag with other cars. Yeah I have issues here as well, the AI is a bit on the lacking side, just watch the replays. They drive worse than you do, and that is bad as the control takes getting used to so you are bound to hit a few oncoming cars in the process. The end result is races are won based on how well you dodge cars not how well you keep your vehicle glued to the road.
Yes I must admit it is very cool when a game includes the option for custom soundtracks, the problem is that most games do not do the feature justice and it seems like a last minute addition. Especially visible in Test Drive as the track list is done in the exact order it is on your hard drive, to add to the pain, you cannot skip tracks within a race, plus (yes there is more) the song repeats itself over and over until the race is over without even advancing to the next track ARGH! This feature is cool if developers use it right!
The features are well played out, you have Linear Race which is basically a single shot track from start to finish with no laps to achieve. You also have circuit which is the laps form of racing, also thrown in the mix is Drag Race which is very VERY limited and becomes repetitive quickly and the personal favorite Cop Chase. You also have what is called Underground. This mode is basically your single player experience that will in turn unlock new tracks and cars for you to play with. It plays out like a Fast and the Furious rip off with big players. You are hired by a local street racer to take the reigns of his muscle car collection and win him big money. If you lose then you are history, make your way through the ranks and he takes you to exotic locales such as Tokyo and Monte Carlo (yipee). This mode was fin for the first few races and then became very repetetitious. I must say I was expecting more.
The final verdict? Well from my score I can bet you know my feelings, but my advice to you is give the game a rent. If you can pick up the learning curve without frustration you may find yourself enjoying it. If not then you may be glad you only spent 3 bucks to find out. In the end this game deserves to be looked at from many different views as mine is just one in a million, until next time!