Written by  :  Trixter (9128)
Written on  :  Sep 28, 1999
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars

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Poor controls and monotonous scenery didn't stop this one from becoming a classic.

The Good

Test Drive what what the PC gaming community needed in 1987--a racing game that was both "serious" enough to be passed off as a simulation (barely), and "fun" enough to breathe some life into computer racing games. Racing games up to that point had been arcade toys, and not seriously considered.A smattering of things I liked about the game: You can choose from a selection of 5 cars, all equally capable of blowing the police away. The "cutscene" graphics have very nicely-drawn side profiles of each car. The music over the PC speaker is pretty good. The transitional "dissolve" effect from one screen to the next is really neat, considering it's CGA.

The Bad

The scenery is extremely monotonous and boring--you're climbing up the side of a cliff for the entire game. It looks great initially, but a change in scenery would've been nice; roadsigns are sparse, and there's no underpass or tunnels to go through.

Another small gripe is that Test Drive is single-player only. You can't race a friend, even if sitting at the same PC.

(For the record, they did improve the scenery and 2-player options in Test Drive 2.)

The only real gripe I have with Test Drive (and all Distinctive Software, Inc. racing titles) is the controls. They all use an eight-way directional control, much like an arcade game. It's not quite as bad as a gamepad--your hard-left and hard-right motions aren't directly interpreted, but rather are applied to the wheel's overall position. Even so, it's very hard to drive a simulated car when you have pseudo-arcade controls to work with. I found myself constantly under- or over-steering. As a keyboard control mechanism, this is expected; for an analog joystick, it's completely unacceptable.

The Bottom Line

Test Drive spawned a sequel that adds scenery changes and 2-player options. First play Test Drive for a couple of minutes, then find the sequel and play that instead.