If you can live with Test Drive's shortcomings and you relish the thought of ridiculous high speeds and occasional collisions, you might want to give it a try.
Infogrames' long-lived Test Drive games is still around, in spite of the fact that the series has never really earned a great deal of critical acclaim. From the onset, the latest iteration of this surprisingly resilient series seems to offer little more than its ancestors. Yet there's something about this version of Test Drive--entitled simply "Test Drive"--that puts it ahead of its predecessors. Despite its unrealistic physics, repetitive racing, and insufficient options, the game can, at times, be surprisingly enjoyable. Considering how limited the selection of foot-to-the-floor arcade racers has been lately, Test Drive seems like a much more attractive prospect than it otherwise might have.
Developed by Pitbull Syndicate--the same studio responsible for the three most recent Test Drive games (not including Test Drive Off-Road or Le Mans)--the latest game in the series follows the familiar Test Drive formula of late-model street-legal cars, impossible speeds, and public thoroughfares. Ultimately, you'll have an opportunity to drive no fewer than 20 real-life automobiles, including exotic cars such as the Lotus Elise and the Jaguar XK-R; horsepower-infused monsters such as the Shelby Cobra and the Chevy Corvette; and traditional muscle cars such as an early '70s Dodge Charger or the Plymouth Barracuda.
And even though Test Drive has only half the number of drivable cars as the previous game in the series, Test Drive 6, the quality and performance of the cars in Test Drive are considerably improved. Whereas Test Drive 6's vehicles handled in a decidedly jumpy, digital manner that often veered drivers spastically into the nearest abutment, Test Drive's cars react in a smooth, graduated fashion far more suited to a racing game. You can even lock your brakes or enter a controlled four-wheel drift. But it should be noted that Test Drive's cars don't handle realistically--driving one will seem more like taking the wheel of a speedboat, rather than a vehicle on dry land.
Fortunately, the latest game in the Test Drive series has generally wide and accommodating roadways to keep you off the guardrails and obstacles--a considerable improvement on the tracks of previous games, which featured slim, snaking courses that forced you to collide continually with barriers and other annoyances. However, you'll still run into your fair share of traffic cones, traffic barriers, peripheral traffic, lamp standards, and other assorted roadside debris in Test Drive, since the game is loaded with movable objects, immobile objects, and superhuman pedestrians who somehow always manage to leap out of your path at the last second.
Unfortunately, Test Drive does feature one of the most annoying aspects of the series--the so-called "rubber-band AI," which causes your opponents to always perform in accordance with your current speed and situation. If you're driving in a closely knit pack and suddenly lose several seconds by entangling yourself with an oncoming car or obstacle, for some bizarre reason, the entire pack ahead of you slows to a virtual standstill waiting for you to regain the lost ground. Likewise, no matter how well you drive in a given event, you'll never really gain a substantial lead on your opponents.
Graphically, Test Drive looks impressive. Each of the game's four scenic and distinct environments features a broad selection of roadways, ranging from the famous hills of San Francisco to the freeway mazes of Tokyo and the dense, tight surroundings of London and Monaco. In addition, none of the four cities confines you to a specific type of thoroughfare. In San Francisco, for example, you'll hurtle through the air in the undulating downtown section, hit top speed along the curvy highways outside of town, and flash over the Golden Gate Bridge. In Tokyo, you'll pick your way nimbly along cherry-blossom-lined passageways before reaching terminal velocity on the wide adjoining arteries, though you'll usually end up covering the same sections of pavement several times before moving on, which can seem repetitive.
- Player Reviews: 4
- Game Universe:
- Test Drive Le Mans (PS, PC, DC, GBC),
- Test Drive Cycles (PS, DC, PC, GBC),
- Test Drive Off-Road Wide Open (PS2, XBOX),
- Le Mans 24 Hours (PS2, PC),
- Test Drive (PS2, XBOX, C64, AMI, PC, ST),
- Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (XBOX, PS2),
- Test Drive 6 (PC, DC, PS, GBC),
- Test Drive: Off-Road 3 (PC, PS, DC),
- Test Drive 5 (PC, PS),
- Test Drive Unlimited (PS3, X360, PSP, PS2, PC)
- Number of Players: