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A.P.I Review: Test Drive 5
Developer: Pitbull Syndicate OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Accolade 1-2 Player Split
Game Type: Arcade Racing Memory Card
Review Date: November 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Having experienced many of the Playstation's racing titles over a period of three years I would dread to be a newcomer to next generation gaming. At last count I believe that I had sampled over seventy of them, some good, some bad, many indifferent.

Imagine receiving your very first console this Christmas and then wandering down to your local gamestore to see what was on offer. Visualize being on the receiving end as almost one hundred games in the racing genre are suddenly thrust in your general direction. Where on earth would you start? How could you possibly only choose one game?

First you must understand that the genre involving vehicles is split into three separate categories. There's the arcade shooter on wheels (Twisted Metal 2, Vigilante 8, Rogue Trip...) where vehicles of various descriptions charge around an enclosed 3D world blasting everything, and everyone, in sight. Then there's the pure, unadulterated arcade racer (Need For Speed, Ridge Racer, Nascar...) where the emphasis is on extreme speed, power sliding and 'over the top' collisions. Finally there is simulated racing at it's finest (Gran Turismo, Formula 1...) in which skillful driving is generously rewarded and careless collisions are heavily penalized.

To stand out from the crowd these days a racing game requires at least one from four features; realistic high-res graphics (such as GT), intuitive handling and control (original F1), depth of gameplay (GT again) or some kind of gimmick (DD, CMR, Micro). Test Drive 5 has a little of each leaning more towards the latter.


The clash of modern super cars vs. muscle cars from the past continues in the sequel to the best-selling Test Drive 4. Test Drive 5 features twice the cars (28) and three times as many tracks (18). The addition of new features include split-screen mode, branching roads, and improved visuals.


Let's not be too hasty in condemning the graphics on display in Test Drive 5 as most of the visuals are acceptable.

The cars look good... very good. In fact I haven't seen vehicles within an arcade racer look as sleek and cool as these since the luxurious Porsche Challenge. The red and white striped open-topped 1965 Shelby Cobra 4275C is as impressive to look at as it is to drive. You even get a miniaturized driver to steer the damn thing! There's the luscious '67 Pontiac GTO, a delightful '69 Chevrolet Camaro 2LI and an adorable '68 Ford Mustang for those that prefer a blast from the past. While the more modern man may climb on board the sleek Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar XKR or a Dodge Viper. Each is selectable in various colors. Should you successfully progress through the challenging cup races you may just unlock the Cop Chase mode where four precisely replicated police vehicles are up for grabs.

Once the race begins there are a few more nice visual touches that add to the overall experience of the game. When it lashes down with rain stormy clouds roll across the horizon as large droplets occasionally spot onto your windscreen creating distracting circles. The headlight effects are also impressive as they light up the immediate road area during night races. Should you hit that accelerator with too much vigor then wheel spins will burn rubber into the road surface as your car takes off in a trail of smoke. The lens flare technique has also been used to offer maximum effect during mid-day races.

On the down side the scenery quickly switches between the highly acceptable and the downright boring. One moment you are speeding across the monumental Tyne Bridge, the next you are surrounded by towering wafer-thin cardboard cut-out buildings. On entering a tunnel the screen seems to throw around a few imperfections with occasional glitching and clipping on show. Pop-up is present, but kept to the minimal.

Overall Test Drive 5 may not have the attractive scenic detail of many other arcade racers but the cool appearance of the cars only just manages to distract you eyes from a few rough edges.

Sounds and Effects

Both sound effects and music fit into the 'okay' category. I suppose it all depends on your musical taste. If you wish to race around a track at breakneck speeds with Heavy Metal sounds burning into your eardrums then this should suit you fine. If not then you could always turn it down and switch on your favorite CD. Should you decide to switch off the music completely then this will leave a constant background noise of growling engines, screeching tyres and scraping bodywork.


If Arcade racers such as Need For Speed and Nascar are the type of drug that you get your kicks out of then look no further for your next fix. Test Drive 5 offers far more than it's predecessor with multiple gameplay modes and contests galore.

The 18 circuits feature unique and accurate recreations from real world locales. Check out Moscow - Russia, Edinburgh - Scotland, Sydney - Australia, Blue Ridge Park - NC, Honolulu - USA, Tokyo - Japan, Jarash - Jordan, Newcastle - England, Maui - Hawaii, Keswick - England, San Francisco - CA, Bern - Switz, Courmayeur - Italy, Kyoto - Japan, Washington DC - USA and Munich - Germany. There's a new branching technology which creates shortcuts and alternate pathways on every track in the game.

There is also an extensive variety of racing modes including; Single Race, where up to two players may take part in a six car event. Time Trials pits your skills against the clock. Drag Race where two vehicles tear down a long straight at lightening speeds towards the finish line. Cop Chase in which you take control of a supercharged police car and pull over law breaking racers. All six opponents must be tracked down, forced from the road and then arrested. Finally there are a selection of Cup Races.

Success in the Cup Race opens up several new competitions. Initially there is a standard Championship Cup and Era Cup - Beauty. By winning these tournaments a Challenge Cup, Pitbull Cup, Masters Cup and Ultimate Cup will be revealed offering masses of challenging gameplay.

The options allow you to configure your control pad to suit analog and dual shock technology. There are three levels of difficulty, various weather settings and the choice to switch on Cop mode (chase and stop speeding vehicles) and oncoming traffic.

Test Drive 5 is a blast of an arcade racer but I found the vehicle AI a little frustrating. It seemed very much as if opponents were reacting to a set of predetermined instructions. We know they really are, but it could have been hidden a little better. Should you take the lead then the chasing pack will attempt to slightly touch your rear-end, sending you into an uncontrollable spin. Now this is fine in my book... but only if you can do the same back to them. Not only do they rarely react to your contact but if the CPU cars collide with each other they appear to very quickly correct themselves and get back into the heart of the race. Unfortunately your vehicle is left to perform a tight three-point-turn and then very slowly regain your momentum. This would usually result in the race being over, but to counteract this happening the leading pack seem to slow down, bunch up and wait for your car to catch up.

That aside Test Drive 5 is as much fun to play as the Ridge Racers and Need For Speed of this world.

Value for Money

There's 28 hot licenced cars: 14 exotic sports cars all capable of exceeding 180 mph and 14 ultra powerful "muscle cars" from the past. There is an extensive variety of racing modes including single race competition, and multiple league modes Split-screen racing for head-to-head competition on circuit tracks and drag racing. There is an all new Cop Chase mode where the player takes control of a supercharged police car and pull over law breaking racers. Finally don't forget the night driving, realistic weather effects and breakable roadside objects. Now does that sound like VFM to you?

GRAPHICS: 15/20 Test Drive 5 is not without it's faults. Occasionally the graphics are distracting. In fact when entering a tunnel the screen seems to crackle and break up - kind of like the effect you get when watching a really old movie.

This aside TD5 is a thrill-a-minute arcade racer that keeps you coming back for more time and time again.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 16/20


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