SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$39.99

DEVELOPER
Pitbull Syndicate

PUBLISHER
Infogrames

RELEASE
11/99

Test Drive 6 Review

By: John Doe


Last years installment of the Test Drive franchise was in my opinion, the best yet. So I had high hopes for number six. While the sixth installment gives you more of everything that TD5 offered, it somehow loses the graphics sheen and control of it's predecessor and comes up a little shy of beating it's big brother.


Highs:
Lows:

Arcade racing games are not without a little competition on the PlayStation these days. For every 3 games released, it seems one falls into the category of racer. Now that's not a bad thing, as we know healthy competition results in better products for us all. However in the case of the Test Drive series, each game carries it further away from its original roots. What started out as a driving sim that allowed you to virtually test drive vehicles that most of us can only dream about or spit on in parking lots (I'm kidding, don't spit on them), has become a mere arcade racer relying on hairpin turns, cop chases and other bells and whistles to entice today's racing aficionado. Instead of refining the experience for driving enthusiasts and building on the sim aspects of the series, Pitbull Syndicate seems content to leave that for Gran Turismo 2 and instead continues to try and compete with the Need For Speed market. I overlooked that with last years installment, but the flaws inherent in this game make it all that more noticeable that this is yet just another arcade racer on the PlayStation.

TD6 starts you with $40,000 big ones, so that you may purchase your wheels from the Class 1 selection. In all there are 4 classes, with the big daddy of them all, the Toyota GT-One, weighing in at a hefty $1,000,000, but you'll have to get to the fourth Class for that one. Unfortunately, aside from sheer speed, all of the cars virtually handle identically. This places you in a quest to get the fastest car only to constantly lose out to the loosey-goosey control, constant twists and turns of the tracks or the Driver-esque traffic. You'll also have to place bets before you start a race and although it's not an option, you'd be rich if you could bet on yourself to lose, because these tracks are tough. Your opponents know the track well and will navigate them with ease, but you had better practice hard if you want to start placing. Throw in the fact that the traffic on the tracks is somewhat random and extremely dangerous and you'll never be confident you are going to win. I can't tell you how many times I finally eked my way into first place only to be broad-sided by some dingbat.

Graphically, TD6 is a step backward from TD5 and a generation below Ridge Racer 4 or Gran Turismo. The tracks are long and interesting, but they take a toll on your eyes thanks to blocky textures and a touchy frame rate. There is a great selection of real-world cars, which means no real-time damage, but you will get to "test drive" some exotic wheels. The environments also feature branching paths, allowing you to take in more of the scenery. I didn't find any of them to be particularly handy in saving me time, but it broke up the game a bit and allowed me to plow over some cardboard boxes and smash through a few barricades now and then. The pop in is fairly atrocious in places and actually effects your ability to navigate the track. That ain't good.

The tunes in this game are primarily real, performed by the likes of Feat Factory, Eve 6, Gearwhore and others. Although I much prefer real tunes, I found a few songs to be far too repetitive. Of course, looped tunes save memory, but thanks to the length of these tracks - some taking upwards of 5 minutes to complete - some songs will grate on your nerves. Those who like techno and industrial will dig what TD6 is spinning. That's all find and good but where are the polkas?

TD6 throws the usual modes in like Single Race, Championship, and two-player split screen racing, but also expands on the cop chase mode and adds 6 racing challenges. The cop mode is fun for awhile, but loses steam quickly. After playing Driver, which makes real-time damage part of the experience, you never feel that on the edge of your seat feeling. The Stop-The-Bomber mode is also fun for awhile, but again, doesn't present a whole lot of challenge.

Complaint Dept. The biggest downfall of this game is the unrealistic physics of the cars. Yes, arcade-style racers tend to make driving a little less forgiving, but this is too much. Plowing throw traffic barely slows you down sometimes, but then a tap from another vehicle might send you flying completely out of control. The traffic on the courses are annoying as hell, as some seem deliberately out to get you, while others seem to avoid you half-heartedly. Traffic hell bent on disrupting your game is fine in Driver, but it really has no place in a game like this. My last gripe with TD6 is the omission of weather effects and night driving. Some ambience would have been nice. Who doesn't like driving over 150 mph at night in a rain storm?

I think it's time to look at the TD series and try something a little different. When I drive a Viper, I expect it to handle completely different than a Ford Mustang. More sim aspects and attention to handling would make this game a standout in today's overcrowded market. After enjoying TD5 so much, I have to say I'm disappointed in this one. Hey, not every follow up is a winner. NFS3 is still tops over NFS4 in my book. The Test Drive series got it right once, but unfortunately it was last years game. In the end , this game is decent but could have been much better.

OVERALL
6.5

GRAPHICS
6.0

CONTROL
6.0

MUSIC/FX
8.0

FRUSTRATION
5.0

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