Review by RStanford

"This game is great, but the story mode brings it down."

Test Drive is, and probably will be, one of the most forgotten about racing titles that has ever been made. This, of course, excludes gimmick racer titles such as WWE Crush Hour and any games that deal with remote controlled cars. Why is this? Why should any racing game be left by itself gathering dust at the local movie rental shop? Was this game just really unappreciated or did people play this game and hate it? Hey, there had to be some reason that there were sequels to this title. Here's my review for Test Drive on the PlayStation 2.

Gameplay: Good, 7
The game modes, by themselves, are not the greatest of all time when it comes to racing games, but the modes are very fun. The races, no matter how long you play, never get boring and are a bit addictive. But even before you do anything inside of the game (I'm talking about the loading screen, of course), you play a little game of Pong. I think this is a very cool idea, because playing Pong before any activity in the game wakes up all of your senses and you become more aware of the things going on during a race. The down side to this though, is that after playing Pong too many times, you get bored and your senses slowly shut down, this in turn makes the game harder and you are not as aware of the things going on. This kind of makes me wonder why there is a Pong loading screen in the first place. I think it's because loading times are too long, but I could be wrong. One thing that kind of bothered me was the fact that absolutely no vehicles become damaged while racing. This includes cars that you are not racing against. So all in all, the score for gameplay is the score that it deserves.

Story: Bad, 3
The story, or “Underground”, mode in this game is quite disappointing. Let me lay it out for you. You play a character named Dennis Black, he is trying to work his way up from the city of San Francisco to be known as the greatest street racer in the world. Now, I know what you're thinking. You probably think that the plot for this game actually sounds good. But the problems lie within the story mode. Cutscenes have characters moving their heads up and down simulating communication and driving at the same time. One problem though, the character's mouths don't move! There also is text to show what the characters are saying. You can barely see the character in the top right corner of the screen while a huge box of text is taking up the center of your television. I guess what I am trying to say is that the cutscenes are extremely bland. The story, however, is just a combination of races. You can skip through all of the talk and race, you might as well because the story isn't very involving. Also, a lot of stereotypes are played out in the characters, such as: the surfer dude, the jolly English fellow, the seductress, etc. The good thing about story mode, is that you unlock cars and locations, which adds a little bit of playability to this mode.

Graphics: Good, 7
Let me start with the cars. They are pretty good. Everything about the cars look great, but I had a problem with the paint customization. There are three bars which are colored red, blue, and green. Depending on how much you remove or raise the color meters, you change your car to a different color. What's wrong with this, is that the available colors you have to customize your car are very little. One other problem I had, was that the cars that weren't racing and the environments were a bit plain, but overall, the graphics weren't too bad.

Sound: Okay, 6
Voice acting was a bit dramatic and a little over the top. Besides that, the flow of how the words came out of the character (for the majority of the time and the exception of some characters) sounded great. As for the sounds of the race, it's very limited. In a total amount, there are probably only about seven sound effects while you are racing. And even after this, there is a soundtrack! The soundtrack includes dance, rap, and rock. Overall, the tracks are good, but most of the dance tracks are a bit on the boring side. So the sound category was decent, but it could have been much better.

Control: Outstanding, 9
Racing games, of course, have to have good control. This one does, but I would have liked to see some things added to the control. A button to boost your car's speed would have been a nice touch. But besides this, the control is excellent and the developers of racing titles should take note of this. I mean, even shifting was cool because you have to know at how many miles per hour would be the perfect time to press the shift button. A speedometer helps this, but still, control is amazing.

Replayability: Very Good, 8
As I have said before, there are a couple of aspects that would make you want to play this game again, they are: how fun the game itself is, the ability to get new cars, and the ability to get new race locations. This game will keep you playing for hours on end. The replayability factor is high.

Overall: Okay, 6
I know what you're thinking, “Man, this guy liked the whole game, only to give it a six out of ten. What a hypocrite!” But listen, the story mode really ruined this game's chances of getting a higher average. I strongly recommend this game to anybody who likes racing games. I caution you though, don't play the story mode unless you really want to get new cars and locations.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 09/23/04

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