Review by Brute
"*Almost* a classic"
I have been an avid fan of racing games since I started playing video games, but recently the Test Drive series has fallen a bit out of favor for me. While I have fond memories of the original Test Drive and Test Drive 2: The Duel, later incarnations just didn't seem to quite capture the fun that the originals did. The newest version for PS2 offers a new take on the series, and while there are some things I wish they'd done differently, overall I was quite happy with the game.
Visually, this game is quite beautiful. While it still has a little way to go to catch up with the wonder that is Gran Turismo 3, there are some things this game does very well. The sun, for example, is the best I've ever seen in a game, hands down. Car models are decent, and present an accurate representation of their real life counterparts. The ability to customize the color and overall shininess of the car is quite welcome, and is something other racing games should implement. The towns look very much like the real life locales they are emulating. London was especially well done, as I found numerous familiar spots while driving.
While I won't totally condemn the sound in this game, it's definitely not the best in the genre. Car engines sound decent, but just a *little* bit more tuning to make them sound more like real cars would've done wonders. The standard tire squeals sound alright. Some of the crashing sounds are a bit odd. I could've sworn I hit a car and it sounding like a bowling ball striking the pins. The musical soundtrack is alright. Due to the short length of the races, it can get away with looping the same song throughout the race without it getting too annoying. There's an OK mix of music. While I detest rap music, the tracks from DMX and Ja Rule are acceptable. Bubba Sparxxx needs to go, though.
Definitely the most criticized aspect of the game is the rubber-band AI, and while it will take a lot of flak, I can honestly say I can't think of a better way of doing it. If you build a big lead in a race, the only surefire way of keeping it is to not hit anything. While that does turn out to be a daunting task, it is possible, and in my experience I never lost a race where I felt I was cheated out of victory. It's also nice to be able to get right back into a race after running full bore into, say, a bus. On the nitpicky side, I wish the braking was a bit more effective, but I can forgive it due to the arcade nature of the game. The sense of speed while driving through traffic is incredible. Driving the wrong way down a highway in Tokyo at night, dodging traffic was quite a rush.
I really enjoyed this game, from start to finish. Kudos to Pitbull for trying to inject some fresh life into this series. I look forward to future sequels, and would highly recommend this game to any racing fans.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/11/02, Updated 06/11/02
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