STAFF REVIEW of Test Drive (Xbox)

Wednesday, September 11, 2002.
by maneatingcow

Test Drive Box art The previous Test Drive title, Test Drive Off Road: Wide Open received varied reviews, but overall, it was not received very well. With the features the latest installment of Test Drive boasted to contain, many believed it would be an excellent title, but it ends up falling short. Test Drive has good graphics, but that is one of the only things it has going for it. Shortcomings in the game play and audio departments make it a game you will think twice about before purchasing.

Test Drive?s game play is one place that any racing game should not falter. Test Drive has some very awkward controls. The layout is well done, but the in-game control is hard to get used to. To make sharp turns, using the brake will cause you to slow down way too much, so you are forced to release the gas, which will cause you to wipe out. This leaves the brake with no major use during the game. The AI within the game is also quite annoying. If you wipe out, you will be able to easily catch up to everyone, as they seem to slow down if you get too far behind. The same goes if you are in first place. Your opponent?s skills and driving ability seem to improve to give you a challenge. Although this does make the game a bit more difficult, it is very unrealistic. The game features many different modes, and allows you to jump right into the modes with a ?Quick Race? option, if you want to play but don?t want to have a single fast race. This feature is great, but the modes, which the Quick Race mode is based on, are not. Test Drive features Single Race, Underground, Multiplayer, Cop Chase and Quick Race modes. The Cop Chase mode is one of the few interesting modes, where you must tag the opposing cars until their arrow is black, which means you ?arrest? them. You must ?arrest? all of the cars before they pass the finish line. This mode would be more fun if the controls were designed better. The only real mode that seems original is the Underground mode, which seems like something ripped off from the movie The Fast and the Furious. They couldn?t have picked a better movie to take an idea from, but they managed to screw it up quite a bit. You play a character that has been hired by a former street racer to help him retain his investments. The story line gives good reason for your character to be in the race, but other than that, it is really quite flat. Bad writing and voice acting make the story very bland, and boring. The mode is entertaining for the first couple of matches, but they get a bit repetitive after a while. Overall, the game play is quite bland, and could use some well-crafted original features.

The graphics in Test Drive are quite nice. The cars are nicely detailed, and are partially reflective (reflect lights but not scenery). The cities themselves are also very good looking nicely detailed. The trees, people, and other cars look quite nice while driving along, and the pedestrians run to avoid the cars. On a closer inspection, you can see that the textures within the game are pretty bland, but it wont be too major of a factor when you are driving down the road at 100mph. The smoke and lighting effects are quite nice, and add a bit of atmosphere to the different levels, most of which take place late at night. The real chance to check out the levels is during the replay mode, which has some great shots of the levels and the street action. Overall, the graphics are quite nice, and are one of the few shining points in the game.

The sound effects are very annoying in Test Drive. You will hear the same engine sound, and the same tire screeching sound for EVERY car. Each car is of different weight, and power, so each should have a distinct sound, but it seems the developers overlooked this fact when creating Test Drive. The voices of the characters are quite bland, and act out the poorly written lines as if they were simply picked from the street for the part. The music within the game is decent, featuring music by Moby, Saliva, Young M.C., and DMX. If the in-game music does not fit your tastes, Test Drive supports one of the little used features of the XBox, the soundtrack option. The major highlight of Test Drive?s audio is this ability, but it still has it?s problems. You can choose a soundtrack from the audio options menu, but that is it. You are stuck with whichever track the game chooses for you (It plays them in order order). The track you hear on the main menu will be the track you hear in game. While racing, there is no way to switch tracks or soundtracks, for that matter. Even worse, when the track is done playing, it will restart the track from the beginning, which during long races can get quite annoying. Overall, the audio is a bit on the poor side, but would have been better if the soundtrack option was implemented more intricately.

Spend some more time implementing useful and fun game modes. Refine the controls, audio, and the soundtrack option. You guys got the look down; all you need now is some great game play!

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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