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Test Drive

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Pitbull Syndicate Limited
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:

While Test Drive isn't the prettiest Xbox driving game around, it has a rock solid frame rate, and the sense of speed it offers is dazzling.

The environments the game presents, from the cities of San Francisco, Tokyo, London, and Monte Carlo, have many destructible objects including light poles, mailboxes and other items. When cars careen into one another, they fly into the air, and it is quite amazing to see the collisions.

Lampposts light nighttime races, and if a car knocks one down, the light appropriately dims. Day time races are complete with sun glare effects, and as cars race over debris on the streets, it realistically flies into the air. Unfortunately, environmental effects aren't complete. Car wrecks have no real bearing on game play, except that they look cool, but if you crash into a building, glass doesn't fly and buildings don't destruct. Crashing into other cars, or into light poles and other destructible objects does slow you down, and all other objects stop your car. Being stopped by a police officer also slows you down, but there doesn't seem to be any other consequence, as you can still continue a race after being 'busted'.

Sound effects are pretty good, but not stellar. Outside of the sounds of the cars or the police sirens, there are some ambient effects, such as pedestrians yelling at you as you race past them, or horns blowing. Also, your competition will taunt you, but these quickly become tedious.

Several musical groups are presented, including Saliva, Junkie XL and JA Rule. Test Drive supports Xbox soundtracks so you can use your own music, or just turn the music volume all the way down and go without tunes.


Gameplay:

Test Drive offers many modes of play including Linear Races, Drag Races, Circuit Races, Navigation Races, and most importantly, the Underground Race.

While all of the other modes offer plenty of opportunity to try various cars and environments, the Underground Race presents a story in which you are the main character. The end result of this story is you get to race against five opponents, and as you win races, you unlock new cars and cities.

Cut scenes, which can be skipped or quickly cycled through, progress the story, and even though it is not well written or acted, it does compel you to continue on. You can practice each course as often as you like, and even if you win or lose a race (you have to place in the top three), you can restart the race and try again.

The various elements, which include having six cars battle it out, weaving in and out of traffic, pursued by the police, makes for a frenetic and exciting game. It is necessary to practice each race multiple times, and usually race each one multiple times, in order to learn the track as well as traffic patterns, before mastering and eventually winning.


Difficulty:

Test Drive offers no difficulty options, and although races seem particularly hard the first few times through, before you know it you've memorized each track, and you are able to nimbly beat the competition.

It can be frustrating sometimes to lose a race simply because one of your competitors' wrecks, and you are caught in the aftermath, but overall the game presents a modest challenge to those who devote themselves to it.


Game Mechanics:

You can choose either a manual or automatic transmission, as well as which car you would like to use for each race. You can choose from a small selection of car colors, but beyond these selections, there are no other customization options in Test Drive. The user interface offered in very easy to master, and the game allows you to save and load user profiles. Settings, such as the controller layout, vibration on/off or volume/play list settings, are all saved in your user profile, which is very convenient.

Although it can take some time to fall in love with, Test Drive is a very fun and exciting game. Combining fast and smooth graphics, varied and destructible environments, and lots of cars and modes of play, it has a lot to offer. You can even play Pong during the short loading screens. What can be better than that?


-Gordy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Gary Lucero

Microsoft Xbox Spy Hunter Microsoft Xbox The Sims

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated