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Test Drive 5 (PC) Review

Presentation/Graphics : 65

Not particularly impressive in this area, and unfortunately it is the best part about the game (next to the quit button). The game requires a 3D card with Direct 3D capabilities, so most cards should work. The cars look cartoonish at best, and it's sometimes difficult to even tell by looking at a car what car it is. Such a shame, too, since there are some fantastic cars in the game. Car textures are bland and uninspiring. The scenery graphics are a little better, but not much. The buildings have an awful 2D look to them, completely flat, but there is a fairly nice variety to them and the rest of the scenery. All in all, a halfhearted attempt by today's standards.

Presentation/Audio : 35
Here we hammer the final nail in Test Drive 5's coffin. It has to be the worst sound I've ever heard. Each car has its own sound but is so utterly ridiculous sounding that the game stops being funny even as a joke. I almost think that they have used the same sounds from the original Test Drive from way back when. Here is the first game that I've had to watch the tachometer to tell when to shift, since the engine sounds add no clue as to where the engine is revving at. On a slightly more positive note, they have licensed several popular bands to do the music for the game, but even that doesn't cover up the pitiful game sounds.

Interface/Options : 60
The interface is clean and crisp looking, but little more. You have to double click on menu options (once to highlight it and once more to select it), which is particularly annoying. The menu layout is straightforward, but with deep branches and the double click scheme, it takes longer than it should to get where you need to go and back again.

Gameplay : 50
Here's where the game really starts to stink up place. Test Drive 5 has probably the best collection of classic, modern, and prototype muscle cars of any game, but there is virtually no driving model at all for any of them. So simplistic is the model that it's laughable. With so many cars available, it's no wonder that none of them are modeled realistically.

There are many modes of play, from quick and single races, to championship races. Winning championships will unlock more tracks and the prototype vehicles. There are police cars, check points, and traffic that can all be turned off except in the championship modes. The tracks come in circuit and rally types, and offer a wide array of locations and surface types, none of which are imaginative or thrilling to drive on. There are the invisible walls around the tracks, and sidewalks that seem to be covered in glue, slowing your car down to a crawl. I have actually owned and driven at least one car in this game (a '69 Charger, may it rest in peace) and I guarantee that it goes just as fast down sidewalks as it does on the street.

The AI is as unimpressive as the rest of the game. They drive almost as if there are no other cars on the road, often causing huge pile-ups with the traffic. They also seem slow if you are behind them, and then much faster if you are in front of them.

Difficulty : 60
Between the cheating AI, average graphics, poor gameplay, and abominable sound, it's very DIFFICULT to like this game. Seriously though, the only challenge in this game is competing with dismal car physics.

Overall : 54
Warning! Cliche coming: Avoid this game like the plague! At best it is a Need For Speed wannabe, at worst it's, well, another in the series of Test Drive. When I got my hands on this game and saw that it had my favorite car of all time, the '69 Dodge Charger, I nearly wet myself. After seeing that it barely resembled the real car, sounded like my neighbor's two stroke leaf blower, and drove like the 'big wheel' I had when I was four, I nearly cried. Not only is this a bad racing game, it's just a bad game period.

By: Garth Cramer 1/14/99

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