Shut Up and Drive. Review

Test Drive Info

genre

  • Racing

players

  • 1 - 2

Publisher

  • Infogrames

Developer

  • Pitbull Syndicate

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS2
  • Xbox

rating

Shut Up and Drive.

The Test Drive series is filled with up and downs. Some of the games have

been fun

while others have been very forgettable.

The latest, simply called Test Drive, makes it way from the PS2

to the Xbox, and though it looks a little better on Bill’s green machine, still

fails to prove its worth.

Test Drive opens with the bare framework of a story which is destined

to strike a chord with about three people. In Underground mode, you play as

Dennis Black, an underground street racer with the command and presence of fresh

pigeon droppings who’s been hired by a rich, chatty weirdo named Donald Clark

to take his place in a high stakes tournament.

Just

what those stakes are is never made clear…since you never actually win anything.

And because these illegal races take place on city streets, you are not only

racing your opponents, you are dodging varying levels of traffic while trying

to outmaneuver the cops through 45 Underground events (polluted by cut scenes

of go-nowhere animated chit-chat starring a horrible cast of freaky-weird, masked

Puppetoon people).

You will quickly amass a garage full of cool muscle cars and choice exotics

like the Chevelle SS 454, the Jaguar XJ220, Ford SVT Mustang Cobra R and the

Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda. The cars handle very well – even the Dodge Charger (which

is about as long as a sperm whale) proves itself capable of maneuvering through

traffic.

Test Drive presents you with three types of tracks: Navigation Challenge,

Linear, and Circuit. There are various routes for each track, forwards and backwards,

through four different cities – San Francisco, Tokyo, London and Monte Carlo.

They even toss it a few drag strips just for good measure. All of the tracks

are superb stretches of asphalt and a pleasure to drive, even with the brutal

competition.

Your opponents drive like the criminally insane; in this case, that’s a good

thing. They all race as if they want to place first and are extremely aggressive.

They won’t hesitate for a second to come alongside and herd you into oncoming

traffic or ram your rear bumper to cause you to lose control. Their specialty,

however, is to plow into the civilian vehicles at high speed, leaving whoever

happens to be behind them to surf their wake of debris.

Not only are they dangerous, your competition is a chatty crowd. Taking full

advantage of the Xbox’s hardware capabilities, the developers have determined

that you should get to know your opponents on a personal level. Unlike the PS2

version where you only glimpsed your nemeses between races, here they contact

you by ‘VidiMail’ every time they come into proximity…and this will happen

often. Unfortunately, they aren’t a very glib crew. In fact, each of them can

only think of two phrases – one for when they pass you and another for when

you pass them. This can get on your nerves after a while as the races in

Test Drive
are fairly long and there is no toggle control in the options

menu to turn your VidiMail off. It’s like being trapped in an elevator with

five loquacious, hyperactive parrots.

The collision physics in the Test Drive series has always been inconsistent

and generally weak. They fare a bit better in the Xbox version. Although struck

cars still tend to go weightless and airborne or have the give of dry-docked

aircraft carriers, vehicles generally have more weight here than in the PS2

version. Collisions in this game tend towards the calamitous, as accidents seem

to have a more pronounced chain effect. There is no damage modeling, however

(although some civilian vehicles can be knocked out of commission), and cars

will not accrue damage during a race…though that might be a good thing considering

how much crashing you will be doing.

The graphics are fairly decent; textures are crisp and the cars look good.

This game seems about 10 times clearer and cleaner than the PS2 Test Drive.

This version even makes attempts at weather effects like water trails coming

off car tires in the rain. While smoke effects are present and accounted for,

spark effects are noticeably absent. Overall, Test Drive is a good-looking

game

The

camera angles are great for people like Mr. Magoo who don’t need to see where

they’re going, but for the rest of us, they stink. Aside from the obligatory

first-person perspective, the other angles will have you looking up your own

tailpipe whenever you approach an incline. This will force you into navigating

the steeper streets of San Francisco from the perspective of some poor unfortunate

who happens to be clutching for dear life onto the trunk of a car.

You could say this adds to the challenge. You could also say it sucks. In

either event, it certainly adds to your close encounter ratio.

Despite the crummy camera, Test Drive honestly gives you the sensation

of flying down the road fast enough to rip the paint from the car. It can be

quite exhilarating, adds vastly to the challenge and is easily one of the highlights

of the game.

The police in the Test Drive series have always been thrown in as an

afterthought, and that tradition continues here. Although you will occasionally

see an opponent sail past you with a complement of police escorts, they seem

to be merely pointing out your location to the cops. And if the cops are interested

in anyone other than you, they certainly aren’t obvious about it. Five of your

opponents could barrel past a black and white at 200 mph and they won’t flip

on their siren until you limp by at 50 mph. Even if you are “Busted,” the usual

result is simply losing a few seconds of race time – a penalty to the checkpoint

timers only, as a plainly evident catch-up feature makes it impossible for your

challengers to get too far ahead of you. All of this only serves to remind you

that you’re playing a game.

Considering the mayhem of the race, the replay feature is disappointing. You

will not be able to control any particulars of the replay beyond Start and Stop.

Camera angles here, though better than in the PS2 version, remove much of the

illusion of speed you may have experienced while playing and give little indication

of just how close you came to clipping other vehicles and objects.

In addition to Underground mode, Test Drive also has Quick Race, Single

Race, and a Two-Player Split-Screen mode. There is even a Cop Chase mode in

which you play as a cop out to tag cars. Since the catch-up feature is still

in effect here, this is about as challenging as shooting fish in a bath tub.

Ultimately, the Xbox version of Test Drive winds up being a mixed bag

of intense and exciting racing just like the PS2 version. The vast and various

stretches of road suffer from a total lack of extras and are beset by unimpressive

collision physics and limited camera angles. Still, there is enough fun in this

game to recommend it for a quick spin around the block.





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

Rating4
Great tracks
Aggressive opponents
Cool cars
Intense races
Unimpressive collision physics
Bad camera angles
Talkative Puppetoon people
No extras