Test Drive
Game Info
Xbox, PS2
Pitbull Syndicate
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Lyrics
The Good

┤ Great graphics and collision detection
┤ several game modes
┤ interactive Pong during loading screens

The Bad

┤ High level of difficulty
┤ computer can catch up too easily
┤ voice acting is lackluster and repetitive


Test Drive has a variety of play modes, but the main focus is on the Underground or story mode in which you play the role of Dennis Black. You are substitute driving for your injured boss in the illegal Underground racing circuits. Race against 5 other drivers on the city streets, where you have to avoid obstacles like civilian drivers, trees and landmarks, the other competitors, and the police.

Gameplay: The play modes are pretty standard and should keep you busy for a long time. The aforementioned Underground mode is the main focus, and there are also Quick Race, Single Race (Linear, Circuit, Navigation Challenge, Cop Chase, Drag Race), and Multiplayer modes (Linear, Circuit, Drag Race). In every mode except Underground, you must finish in first place to advance. In Underground mode, you can finish anywhere in the top three. Driving conditions change by the time of day, and night driving is considerably more challenging than day driving. I did not encounter any weather effects on any of the courses I tried.

Since Underground mode is the focus, I'll talk about that. You start off in San Francisco, and you must place in the top three to advance to the next race. The other racers will heckle you on the course because you're the new guy, but the problem is they use the exact same line every time they pass you or you pass them. It gets a little repetitive. Once you win enough races, another driver will challenge you to a race for pink slips. Win and you get that driver's car.

Controls: The controls are standard for an XBox racing game, so a wheel controller can be used. If you've played Project Gotham or RalliSport Challenge, you'll feel right at home with Test Drive's controls. They are also very easy to pick up and learn very quickly.

Graphics: Graphics are very smooth and I saw no sign of flicker or slowdown. The lighting effects are also very good, as well as the environments. The courses are set within the city streets, which I assume are accurate. I've never been to San Francisco or Tokyo, so they looked accurate enough to me. Car models are based on real cars and look great, but no matter how much you smash them up, they never take or show any damage. This didn't bother me since this is an arcade racer, I'm just pointing it out. The car's lights are capable of turning on and off, but if the race is not taking place at night, turning on the lights has no effect. Minor gripe, but it could have benefited the visibility of some courses. The screen can be a little dark at times and hard to tell where the course is.

There are some loading times before each level, but Test Drive handles this better than any other game I've seen. While the level is loading, you can play against the computer in classic Pong! You can play as long as you like after the level loads, just press "A" to start racing when you´re ready.

Audio: Sound effects are done well, but the voice acting could use some work. Like most games, the characters are based on stereotypes, so you're racing against the surfer dude, the Englishmen, the redneck, etc. Boring.

The music tracks are from actual bands and are very good. Some of the bands included are Ja Rule, Moby, and DMX. Lots of thumping bass to get your adrenaline going.

The bad: My main beef with this game is the difficulty. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a challenge, but this game starts off way too hard and never looks back. The problem is the computer adjusts based on how you're playing. This is typical of an arcade racer, but it's tweaked too far in the computer's favor. For example, you could be in first place and seemingly way out in front, but make one mistake, and you're almost guaranteed to be in last place before you know it. If you are in last place, the computer drivers lighten up to let you catch up, but once you gain a better position, they are back to top speed. If you're in first place, the computer drivers have greatly increased speed, maneuverability, and just a general ability to catch up to you and pass you. If you have the fastest car in the game and are in first place, the computer drivers will pass you like you're standing still. While this provides a great challenge, it also is too big of a handicap against the player. I spent over an hour on the same course and was not able to get a first place finish, no matter which car I used.

Test Drive is a good game for someone looking for a challenge and has the patience to play though each course several times. It is my belief that you will have to have a near-perfect run to finish in first place on most courses, so this game will take a serious time commitment and a strong dedication. Test Drive definitely has some strengths, but I feel they are outnumbered by its shortcomings. I would recommend a rental to see if it's your type of game. If you like what you see, Test Drive will provide long hours of enjoyment for you.

- - bluezero

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