A new style of racing game
Test Drive was one of the first games to move the scope away from common sports/competition-themed arcade racing, introducing a street-driving simulation with a realistic background. The game features five sports cars, complete with accurate in-game dashboards and real-world specifications, presented in a nicely animated selection menu. While driving along the winding mountain road, the cars behave according to their specs, but realism doesn't end here: There is plenty of traffic on the road, requiring risky overtake maneuvers if you want to maintain decent speed. Police have set up radar traps and will chase after you if you don't care about speed limits. Evading police pursuit is one of the funniest aspects of the game.
Unfortunately there is not much scenery to write home about. Each stage looks exactly the same, a rocky cliff on the right side of the road, and a deep chasm on the left. No houses, no trees, just a few traffic signs now and then. After a while you begin to wonder where all the traffic is supposed to come from, since this seems to be the most desolate road in the world!
While the graphics and presentation are pretty and sound is adequate, the steering is somewhat difficult to control. The keyboard input routine doesn't seem to detect multiple keypresses at once and will crash the game if a keyboard language driver is loaded. Control via joystick is a bit better, but makes you drive like a drunk because the steering wheel is not self-centering.
The Bottom Line
Test Drive introduced a new style of racing game. Attention to detail and the possibility to drive five most famous cars of the era on a simulated public road promise a very interesting game, but the monotonous scenery makes you fall asleep at the wheel.