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The "Test Drive" name has been used with racing games since the old Amiga days, the Test Drive titles were some of the most well known racing games to hit the market back then. But now with releases such as Project Gotham Racing and Gran Turismo it has far more competition now than it ever did before.
Installation, Settings and Loading Speeds
Installation is yet again just a simple case of putting the Xbox DVD-Rom into the Xbox DVD drive and then letting the Xbox do its thing. Loading speeds are pretty good here with Test Drive, levels take about 15 seconds to load up.
I don't think that I have to explain to you that Test Drive is a racing game! The basic premise is that you can drive anywhere (so they say) via various challenges. So what are these race types?
First up we have Circuit Races. In these you have to navigate through a set number of checkpoints in a specific order (shown to you via a directional arrow at the top of the screen) for 2 or more laps. These races have a few barriers and obstacles on them with the main aim being to finish first in the race against your other competitors.
Next we have Blitz races. Again these are check point races that are set in a pre-determined order, the order is shown as soon as you pass through each checkpoint. So quick reactions are a must. Any route can be taken to get through to the next checkpoint. There are no laps.
Finally we have the scramble races. Here you must be the smartest racer as well as the fastest, you must make sure you pass through all checkpoints in any order and by any route. So it is up to you to find the fasted route through the checkpoints to complete these challenges.
Test Drive disappoints me, I remember how great the old games were, fun to play, exciting, but I really don't get that feeling with this new release. The game feels too easy, the level designs are ok, but again nothing special and there just isn't really an atmosphere to the game. Don't buy the game expecting a simulation, you will be disappointed if you do as the game is just a pure arcade style racing title so there is very little need to tweak anything. The more games you win the more money you end up getting. The more money you get the better the car you can buy and so on.
Test Drive is VERY easy to control. You use the left thumbstick to steer, the A button to accelerate while the left trigger can be used to brake. Other basic controls are handbrake, shift up and down and camera controls. I guess you wouldn't expect the controls to be too difficult anyway as the game itself isn't really that hard or in-depth like other racing titles out there are the moment.
Graphics & Sound
There is certainly a feeling of speed in Test Drive, but the graphics seem to suffer, they are better than the Playstation 2 version just as they should be, but there is so much pop-up and lack of detail its hard to notice that you are playing an Xbox release. I guess we may have been spoiled recently with releases such as Project Gotham Racing and Wreckless but that doesn't mean we can be fobbed off with low-par graphics.
Sound is not that bad, but not that good either. There are some pretty good bands on the soundtrack to the game, but unfortunately there are not enough tracks on there to stop them from getting very repetitive if you play the game for a while like I have done. The actual sound effects are not so bad either, but again nothing special, and could have been made better.
So is the game fun? Well yes it is, but not for long enough. I just didn't get the feeling of wanting to play the game through (although I had to), there wasn't much of an atmosphere, the races were a bit too easy to win, the sound got on my nerves and the graphics were below par for an Xbox release. I really wanted to like the game as other Test Drive titles have been very good before, but I just hope they get it right with the next one due out later in the year.