Out with the old, in with the new $#&%! Test Drive is back, and it's all new! Read now!
Update: Sep. 7, 2001
We update our preview with a wonderful batch of new screens and renders of the cars. MMMM tasty!
Test Drive 4, which released back in 1997, was perhaps the first game that really made me a proud owner of my Playstation. For within it, not only could I race in many fully licensed sports cars, but I could engage in hot pursuit with the local fuzz! And although the cars handled as if molasses had found its way into the wheel wells, I didn't care because the game was insanely fun to play.
In a sad, rather unfortunate twist, the two sequels that followed offered nothing new. Instead, we got more of the same. Things went stale; the series died out, and with the arrival of Sony's Gran Turismo, the Test Drive franchise eventually went from household name to distant memory. I did in fact shed some tears. I won't lie. It's truly sad to see the first racing series you ever liked go down the tubes like a quart of Draino.
To my surprise, I have come to find that Infogrames and the boys at Pitbull Syndicate are preparing to make a huge return with the long neglected franchise. This revelation, tentatively titled "Test Drive", is not the simple upgrade of past. It's all new folks. As the lovable song in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 goes, "out with the old, in with the new #@$%!", it immediately brings Test Drive to mind. There's an all new game engine for this street racer, boasting cars with realistic physics to make the street racing experience much more enthralling.
Straight up, Test Drive offers over 20 licensed sports and muscle cars including the Dodge Viper, Ford GT40, Jaguar XK-R, Plymouth Cuda, and many more. These exotic rides can be taken for spins in fully realized cities including London and San Francisco (there's two more, but I won't spoil the surprise). Each city incorporates working traffic and pedestrian systems, breakable street side objects, and of course, savage coppers waiting to be tested in one of the various driving modes and special events.
On a technical front, Test Drive offers some nifty features to spruce up the racing action. The incorporation of what Pitbull is calling "dynamic time-of-day lighting" allows the changing of time, from dusk till dawn, ala Shenmue. It is still unknown as to how long a Test Drive day is, or if changes even take place in real-time (given the relatively short races), but it's a cool feature nonetheless. It's probably, however, safe to say you'll see much less traffic and pedestrians at night than you would in broad daylight.
The elements play a key role in the form of heavy fog, hail, snow, and rain. And while this sounds just plain ordinary, Test Drive for Xbox will make excellent use of these features. Pouring rain will splash off the cars, fog will hamper vision considerably, and light will reflect off wet pavement much like it does in Gran Turismo 3. Extras such as these will help add both variety and even more to the immersion factor as far as gameplay is concerned.
Test Drive will make use of extra features such as full scene anti-aliasing, real-time lighting, reflection mapping, surround sound, HDTV and wide screen support, licensed music, 4 player split-screen play, and much more. What didn't they think of?
To say the least, the thrilling spin Infogrames and Pitbull Syndicate are planning with Test Drive on Xbox looks to be very promising indeed. The visual feast is mouth watering, and the thought of neck and neck racing against the cops in pouring rain has had me licking my chops. If the new game engine comes through, we could be looking at a something truly special.
Owes $682.22 in outstanding speeding tickets.