Accoladeís big energy arcade type racer gets the grand treatment in this latest installment. Loads of cars, loads of tracks and gameplay options up the wazoo will make armchair speed freaks very happy indeedy.
Iíve never played a Test Drive game before, so I didnít know what to expect. I must say after spending a lot of time with this one, that Iím quite pleasantly surprised. It has really large environments based on real locations such as San Francisco, Hawaii, Scotland, and there are a total of 16 (or so it would appear) to choose from. You have just 8 tracks at first, with the other 8 locked. But do some fancy driving and youíll unlock even more! You also get real cars such as Dodge Vipers, Nissans, Camaroís, etc. to drive. This of course means no real time damage will appear on these babies when you slam into a wall. Either the car licenses wouldnít allow that to happen or it really is true that driving a Viper 200+MPH into a tree just wouldnít do the car any damage. You test that one out and let me know.
Test Drive 5 offers a few different race modes; Quick Race, Full Race which includes: Single Race, Time Trials, Cup Race (Race for 6 Cups) and Drag Race, (this is where you race in womenís clothing). Bet you couldnít see that one coming...okay... Two Player race and Cop Chase Mode (which you must unlock). Cop Chase puts you into the drivers seat of some really souped up law enforcement machines and letís you track down various scofflaws. This mode, although difficult due to the flawless driving abilities of the offenders is a great game all in itself. Need For Speed 3 let you outrun the cops, this game letís you be one. It should be noted that in TD5, cops can be implemented so that you may try to outrun them while you are racing.
Along with the realistic and long environments, TD5 offers up a screaming framerate which provides that oh-so necessary feeling of speed. This is where the game falters a bit. The cars move so fast and sometimes control a little strangely that one wipeout or flip can cost you the race. The Dual Shock Control works great, but steering is a touch loose and thus you may find yourself cracking up more than youíd like to. The trouble is with any racing game, that you wish it controlled just like the last racing game you played. Give it some time and youíll get the nuances of this one.
My only other complaints with this game (other than it didnít come with a 1 million dollar check in it for me, but I have that complaint with all games) is that once you concede that you truly have lost the race and wish to restart, there is no "restart race" feature. You have to "retire", then select "race again" and wait through the load times again. Also the CPU AI is really tough. The frustration factor can be quite high at times, when one spin out costs you the race.
The tunes although not my cup of tea, are excellent. They feature real bands like Hanson and the Back Street Boys (okay so maybe not, but did I really scare you there for a sec?). Actually Fear Factory is one of them. See, I was paying attention, kind of.
If you are into driving games and are looking for more of an arcade racer (as opposed to the simulation aspects and mind numbing detail of Gran Turismo) then TD5 would be a title to spend some quality time with. There is a lot of game under this hood. A definite crowd pleaser until Ridge Racer 4 shows up.
Just one last note. Many people have been emailing me with questions and comments. Please let me state that I DO NOT answer gaming questions. Iím not the code guy. Iím the review guy! If you canít find your answer on this site, then either you havenít looked thoroughly or the code doesnít exist (yet). As well, please make sure that if you want a reply, that your e-mail address is correct! I do write back to 95%, but I am starting to give up due to so many returns! I almost never bother with AOL addresses anymore as at least 90% are returned. Thank you.