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Sep. 24, 2001

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page


Test Drive Off Road: Wide Open

Angel Studios



Medim - High

Conquer The Dirt with Infrogames off-road racing game.

Infrogames is bringing its successful off-road racing game to the Xbox with an improved graphics engine that rivals any other system and, as of now, a host of extras exclusive over its PS2 counterpart. Test Drive: Off-Road Wide Open, while it may not be as universally praised as the other Test Drive titles in the series, Test Drive Off Road: Wide Open gives you more freedom to race anywhere you want and wreck anything in your path.

Being developed by Angel Studios, the Xbox version contains 13 killer, officially licensed trucks including the 1975 Jeep CJ5, Jeep Wrangler Sport, 1977 Ford Bronco, Ford F150 XLT, Dodge Durango SLT and Shelby, Dodge Ram 2500, AM General Humvee, Dodge T-Rex Ford's Bronco, Monster Truck, and GMC's Hummer: Open Top and Wagon. Exclusive to the Xbox will be the Chevy Avalanche, the largest of its kind.

Test Drive Off Road: Wide Open focuses on four locales in which you take your four-wheeled monster and conquer. These locations are Moab, Utah, Yosemite, California and the "Big Island" of Hawaii. That's three for those of you counting. The fourth is being developed exclusively for the Xbox, and has not been announced yet.

The graphics engine is getting a major upgrade for its Xbox outing. The textures are being reworked, environments are going to be much more detailed, lighting effects are also being implemented to a crisp, and also more breakable objects are being added to tracks. I like to hear that.

The gameplay of Test Drive: Off Road Wide Open gives the player a true "outdoor" experience and an upscale battle with its terrain. It's a go anywhere racing videogame that is usually bouncy and rough as demonstrated in the Test Drive Off-Road series. You are able to control the most badass, roughest trucks to ever grace the dirt. It has a similar terrain and physics engine to Smuggler's Run, but with a little more weight added to the vehicles and the addition of more structures added to the environment. There are plenty alternate routes and shortcuts to ensure success in the game but don't be mistaken, you must stick to the course in order to ensure reaching the checkpoint. Depending on the vehicle, terrain can be handled in a variety of ways and "choosing your car wisely" is a must.

The addition of a career mode can help jack up your car to be most destructive force on this earth. It should be noted that a career mode could be essentially beneficial to your success in this game and the destruction that you may cause as a result of beefing up your car to the extreme case. You can't purchase modifications for your truck like in the Gran Turismo series, but each truck goes through a series of four modifications, which go from "stock" through "unlimited". Of course, the "unlimited" modification will allow you to basically wreak havoc on the nation. With your modified vehicle, you will be able to handle mountainous terrain and make towering jumps. You will be able to climb and take alternate routes that weren't accessible from the start.

The graphical power of the Xbox will allow it to handle scripted events that would occur while racing such as falling boulders from an avalanche without a drop in the "framerate". Each location in the Xbox version will also contain a range of specific environmental events, such as active volcanoes, flowing waterfalls, and toppling palm trees. Each type of surface has unique and realistic effects on traction such as dirt roads and sandy beaches. Forests and deserts are also raced on which adds a variety and differentiation to Test Drive: Off Road Wide Open.

The soundtrack of this game contains a weird mixture of tracks, but the soundtrack makes for a wonderful racing experience. Test-Drive: Off-Road Wide Open will feature Metallica's song "Fuel" as the main theme for the game. The Xbox release will feature a licensed soundtrack also featuring Digital Assasins, Fear Factory, 303 Infinity, and Unloco. Something entirely exclusive to the Xbox and a bit unique will be an on-the fly radio that will contain a variety of techno and soft music which you can listen as you were in your own car cranking that stereo up with not a care in the world as you ride into the sunset. Soft music is a nice touch but we want heavy metal as we seek and destroy anything in our path. Again, with a great digital speaker system, the full capabilities of the Xbox will be on display and this soundtrack can be heard throughout your neighborhood. There currently are plans to add a few more songs that you will only be able to hear with your Xbox version of your game.

Test-Drive: Off-Road Wide Open hits stores at launch and to say that it is basically an upgrade of its PS2 counterpart is an understatement. There are plenty of additions to the Xbox version that will make outdoor racing enthusiasts outdoor want this title. Be on the lookout for Test-Drive: Off-Road Wide Open when it hits on November 8, 2001.

Peter Hartofilis
At the starting line, revving his engine.

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