find yourself wondering which car would win in a race between the
old muscle cars of the late 1960's and today's sleek, more exotic
cars like the Corvette? What do you mean NO? Whaddaya mean, you
never heard of a muscle car?? Sheese....
Test Drive 4 answers that age-old question - Which cars were
really faster; the beasts of yesteryear or the speed demons of
today. In an attempt to clear up this all consuming, pressing issue
Accolade has delivered a racing game that places you behind the
wheel of 10 of the hottest street cars to ever hit the pavement.
Does it really answer the question? Well, strap yourself in
and read on to find out!
Drive 4 is a cross between a driving simulator and an arcade racer.
The cars have realistic specs and handling capabilities, but the
overall driving experience is "balls to the wall" arcade
graphics in Test Drive 4 are up to the Playstation standards that
most of today's recent driving games have set. A few shorts years
ago the graphics in this game would have been considered incredibly
cutting-edge, but with all of the progress that has been made with
the PSX graphics, I would say that this title looks like most of the
other 3rd generation racers that are out there now. Not that there
is anything wrong with thing! Far from it actually...
All of the cars in the game are portrayed very nicely and easy
to differentiate from each other. When you strap yourself into the
'69 'vette for instance, there is no mistaking the look of this car
from any others. The texture mapping is done quite nicely and the
light-sourcing effects that reflect off the car are convincing.
About the only drawback that I could find with the cars is that they
appear to "float" above the track instead of being firmly
anchored to the pavement.
The backgrounds are also very nicely done. There is some
pop-up, but it is set pretty far off in the distance and does not
cause any undo distractions. The scenery is very colorful and moves
along at a very good clip. The manufacturer claims a frame rate of
better than 30fps and I found no reason to doubt their claim. I did
however notice that for some strange reason the screen "stops"
for a split-second and then picks right back up and goes. I think
the reason for this is that the tracks are probably being read right
off the CD as you drive and tend to sometimes over-drive the CDROM
in the PSX. This was a random occurrence and as such, did not happen
at the exact same place in the courses each time. I found this to be
somewhat annoying, but started to expect it after awhile and learned
to live with it (grumble).
The animation of the crashes is cool as you helplessly watch
your car tumble end over end and ultimately settle on its roof. It's
just too bad that there was no damage texture-mapping added to the
cars. You can smash the crap out of you vehicle and it will still
look sparkling new. There are also some nice sparking effects that
occur when you sideswipe another car or edge along a guard rail or
I should also mention that the opening CG clip is very nicely
done and fun to watch for the first few times.
music in Test Drive is okay. It is certainly well orchestrated, but
is a rather uninspired blend of techno-rock. It does a decent job of
getting your motor running so to speak, but never really takes
things over the top.
The sounds were also a bit of a disappointment for me. I could
never get the sounds to a decent enough sound level that would make
the crashes and engine sounds stand out. Even cutting back the music
to zero and pumping it through a Surround Sound receiver did little
to throw the sounds into the forefront. Don't get me wrong, the
sounds used for the car engines, crashes, burnouts, etc. are all
very nicely captured they are just reproduced at such a low decibel
level that it took an ungodly amount of effort to get a satisfying
start off with, if you have read any of my previous reviews here,
you probably already know that I LOVE driving games. I will go out
of my way to obtain practically any racing title that hits the store
shelves. I have more darn driving peripherals laying around my
console than I could possibly use in my lifetime, but what the
hell...give me a driving and I am a happy camper.
As soon as word hit the street that Accolade was going to be
releasing a driving game that pits cars from the present against the
beasts from the muscle car era, I began my countdown to release day.
It was with great anticipation that I popped this sucker in and
began to fulfill some of my all time racing fantasies. Here was my
First up I was treated to a nicely produced CG opening which
showed a high speed encounter between a Shelby Cobra and a Dodge
Viper (yeah!!). After watching the viper stomp on the Cobra's butt I
pressed start to begin my own race. A nice photo of the back-end of
a 1998 Corvette graces the screen as the game loads in. After what
seemed like an eternity, the main menu screen popped up for my
review. There is a lot of loading time in this game!
From the main menu you can select from a Single Race option
that includes a single race (of course), four Cup races and the Drag
race. A Duel option that pits you against a ghost car that
represents your friends track time, a Link Game option, High Scores,
Credits and the Options menu.
In Single Race you can go in and select you car and track and
have a go at the game. This is a good mode to get used to the feel
of the cars, the track layouts, etc. before actually entering into a
Cup race. Since this was the mode that popped up first, it was of
course the mode that I jumped into. I decided to test drive the
Keswick, England track with the '69 Vette. The first thing I noticed
was how nicely detailed my car as well as the other seven
competitors all appeared at the starting line. Next came the
countdown and I was off! Whoa...the car does an outstanding burnout!
After leaving about 4 yards of smoking rubber and tire tracks I was
off and edging my way into the front of the pack. As in real life,
the '69 Vette in this game had awesome acceleration. It was then
that I noticed just how accurate the tracks are...I had forgotten
that I was driving in England and that traffic goes in the opposite
direction from the states...SMASH...I get into a head on collision
with some poor bloke and my car does an end over end. From 3rd to
8th in a matters of seconds...errrr. Jumping back into the fray, I
noticed that according to the position graph, car number 7 was
within my grasp. It was also then that I noticed the game cheats a
bit. After a few seconds I had caught up to the next car, yet it was
next to impossible to pass it! What the hell...I was obviously
travelling much faster than the car in order to catch, yet the damn
thing would not let me pass it. Anyway, it became a moot point
because I then slammed into another car, didn't make the next
checkpoint and was disqualified from the race...grumble.
The cup races offer the gamer a nice variety of races. In the
Challenge Cup you races on 5 tracks. The object is to finish all
five races with the total lowest time. Championship Cup has you
racing on 10 tracks. Here you must finish with the highest
accumulated points. The Pitbull Cup challenges you with 5 tracks in
with you must finish first on each track before being allowed to
race on the next one. Finally there is the Masters Cup. 10 tracks to
race, each one with a different car. Get the lowest total time and
you walk away with the victory. Cup races are very difficult and
require a lot of practice to complete. The computer drivers are
brutal and the traffic and cop cars only add to the stress!
There is also a neat little 1/4 mile drag race where you can
go up against the other cars one on one for the best 1/4 mile times.
I had some fun trying to beat the manufacturers 0-60 specs on some
of the cars.
In the options menu you can adjust the music and sound
setting, turn traffic law enforcement on or off and customize your
controller. There is also an automatic or manual option. In this
game I recommend the manual, it really helps.
The link mode works very well and is a blast to play against a
friend. It's just too bad that it's such a hassle to drag two TV's,
two Playstation consoles and two copies of the game together.
I really thought that the concept of Test Drive 4 was fairly
well executed. I loved being able to drive some of the worlds
fastest street legal cars against each other and the theme of muscle
cars against today's more elegant models plays out extremely well.
As in real life, the newer cars handle the turns much better than
their older counterparts, but in all out straight-line acceleration,
the muscle cars have few peers. Another neat idea was implemented
here as well. The tracks are designed from a point A to point B
perspective. There are no laps, no going around and around the track
time and time again. This was pretty cool, because the scenery is
constantly changing. The tracks are pretty long too, requires you to
drive simulated miles before completion. I would like to see this
concept implemented more in future driving games... There are
unfortunately some shortcomings though, that could perhaps be
corrected if the series continues.
First off, put in a split-screen two-player mode for crying
out loud! The game is already fun to play, with two players
(non-linked) it would have been a blast! Next, improve the handling
of the vehicles a bit. You really need to learn the layout of the
courses, so that you can over-react to each turn. Thirdly, put in
some shortcuts! The tracks in this game have a multitude of side
streets with active traffic coming out of them, yet you are
forbidden to turn onto those streets yourself. Shortcuts are cool.
Lastly, clean up some of the load times. Jumping between games or
even racing the same track again requires you to sit and wait an
inordinate amount of time.
Well, I'd say that about covers it. The game is a lot of fun
to play. There are even some secrets to discover such as additional
cars to race. The cups races are diverse and challenging and the
tracks are designed very well (just wait 'till you hit the hills in
Drive 4 offers you a nice variety of cup challenges and cars to
race. Track selection is a bit sparse, but very well designed. It's
just a damn shame there is no two-player mode in this game, it would
have increased the re-play value tremendously!
As it stands, this title is a decent value for your money. You
may want to rent it first to formulate your own opinion though.
Personally, I found the game to be a keeper and for some strange
reason, even though there is no split-screen mode, it is very
popular with a bunch of people. My friends liked to watch each other
drive (and crash) and then try to best their times or get into a
more spectacular accident.
Drive 4 offers a great concept in a driving game. You get to drive
late '60's early '70's cars against some of today's finest. The cars
are modelled very well and all handle quite differently. Track
design is wonderful and the cup races are a blast to compete in.
All in all this is a very competent single-player driving.
Next time add a two-player split-screen mode and you can count
me in for a repeat performance.