Test Drive Offroad: Wide Open,Test Drive Offroad Wide Open Review

Test Drive Offroad: Wide Open,Test Drive Offroad Wide Open Info


  • Racing


  • 1 - 2


  • Atari
  • Universal Interactive


  • Rockstar San Diego

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now


  • PS2
  • Xbox


Off the road and onto the box.

Months ago, we took a long look at Test Drive Off-Road: Wide Open for the PS2. Now it’s made it’s way through the mountains and onto the Xbox, and another port means another vaguely familiar review. Even a dismal series like Test Drive: Off-Road should be able to redeem itself with the Xbox’s technology, right?

Test Drive Off-Road: Wide Open makes a valiant effort to distance itself from its dysfunctional family of origin. Though a mixed bag of tricks, its attempts are greeted with a modicum of success.

While not much is different from its PS2 cousin (no new graphics or gameplay modes), the Xbox version does offer 53 licensed trucks versus the PS2’s 13. And it totally kicks the stuffing out of 4×4 Evo 2.

The object is to maneuver your off-road vehicle through numerous checkpoints spread throughout huge areas. For your driving pleasure you have your choice of boxy, poorly-rendered trucks, jeeps, and SUVs. All of them have engines that sound like old weed whackers and kitchen appliances in desperate need of 3-in-1 Oil.

In Career Mode you purchase your off-roader, pay to race and use your winnings to buy upgrades or other vehicles. Upgrades (which, for some asinine reason, must be unlocked) result in a three-stage de-dorkification of your ride. It will no longer resemble a Tonka toy, school bus or the Mystery Machine quite so closely. There will be noticeable differences in handling, speed, acceleration and braking.

Players eventually get to select Modified, Pro or Unlimited upgrades, but you won’t find yourself tweaking your own vehicle to suit your individual style. In fact, there are no customizing options other than a limited palette of colors to choose from. This works out great for the very young and others who haven’t gotten the hang of making their own decisions. For the rest of us it merely makes the game flat and largely uninvolving.

Vehicles are divided into two classes – those with speed and those with power. Power vehicles like the Jeep CJ5 and the Chevy Blazer are better for climbing steep terrain and handle easier for hitting checkpoints. Speedsters like the Dodge Ram 2500 and the Hummer Wagon can mack on straightaways but can easily sail right past a checkpoint.

It is in the area of physics and suspension where TDORWO shines. The physics are truly impressive. Vehicles have weight without being awkward and sluggish. They can fish tail, spin out, flip over and slam into objects and other vehicles. You really do get the illusion of speed as you zip along straight passes or fly downhill. Driving these things is a good fun.

However, the game falls short in the damage modeling, as there is still none to speak of. Considering the increased power of the Xbox, I would have hoped for some tweaks here. But no matter how many times you smack into boulders or how fast you were going when you impacted, you won’t notice more than a little mud spatter or the loss of your spare tire when the race is done.

Races take place within three different ecosystems – Utah, Yosemite and Hawaii. Environments are huge, wide open and extremely well designed. Though some of the overlaying textures are dull, the enormity of the environments and the variety of terrain will make you sit up and take notice.

Keep in mind that TDORWO is a checkpoint racer – the kind in which you can flawlessly fly ahead of the pack for your first several laps, then miss a checkpoint by a millimeter and watch tearfully as your opponents flood past while you attempt a couple of impromptu U-turns. This is a slight annoyance on the Circuit and Blitz tracks. The Scramble tracks, though, have checkpoints which can be hit in any order, so in addition to the slightly-missed checkpoint factor you will have the added frustration of not knowing where you’re going. These random checkpoints render your navigation arrow practically useless as it will have you coaxing your Jeep Wrangler up the side of Mount Everest to reach a checkpoint.

Onscreen advice suggests studying your relatively featureless map or following your opponents in order to find the most expedient route. This is fine until you lose or overtake them (it’s a race, remember?) and then quickly ascertain that you have no clue where you’re headed.

Some vehicles drive with amazing aggression. They will knock you to the side before reaching a checkpoint or go so far as to turn you in the opposite direction. These drivers are downright malicious and appear to make a concerted effort to assure that you have more than your fair share of trouble on the road. This adds significantly to the experience, although it will make you wonder how your Dodge Durango has the traction to climb a near vertical incline but can’t withstand a sideswipe by a little Jeep with road rage.

TDORWO offers players a lame replay feature where you will find yourself observing a completed race from the same perspectives available when you were driving – chase cam, first person and rear view. If you were paying attention when you were racing, you saw that already. They missed an excellent opportunity to win players over by letting us see for ourselves just how crazy the race really was.

But in the end, TDORWO is a lot of fun for a couple of hours and makes a worthy rental. Excellent physics and suspension, aggressive opponents and humongous and well-planned environments give a bit of shine to a game that is otherwise strictly last generation. You do get more vehicles than are in the PS2 version, but that’s it – there are no new environments or even enhanced graphics to widen the gap between the two. Still, you could do much worse.