Test Drive 5

a game by Accolade
Platforms: PC Playstation PSX
Genre: Racing
Editor Rating: 6.9/10, based on 4 reviews
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See also: Test Drive Games
Test Drive 5
Test Drive 5
Test Drive 5
Test Drive 5

Overview

Last year was the first year that Accolade brought the Test Drive series to the PSX with Test Drive 4. This was a pretty fun game that did have its share of problems. It was cool because it brought back to life some of the old classic muscle cars as well as some of today's top performance sports cars. For some reason, I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. It didn't really hit me what it was until I started hearing about Test Drive 5. It became quite obvious what was lacking in TD 4 as soon as I heard it. The problem? No Mustangs! They fixed that and I am a happy man.

So what is new in this, the second year of Test Drive on the PSX? Of course there are new cars (we will cover this later), new tracks, branching roads, and a new cop chase mode. Better graphics make the action look good but the insane difficulty is still here. Throw in dual shock support and you will now feel the rumble of the 454 under the hood when you are sitting at the starting line on the drag strip.

Gameplay

Take one part Need for Speed 3 and one part Gran Turismo and one part Test Drive 4 and what you have is Test Drive 5. This is quite a compliment considering Turismo may be the best PSX game of all time and Speed 3 is a great racer in its own right. This game takes the arcade fun of Speed 3 and combines it with the realistic vehicles of Turismo and gives it a flavor all to itself.

The biggest draw of this game has got to be the cars. As with last year, this game is stacked with some of today's hottest cars as well as the muscle cars of yesterday. There are 28 cars to be exact. The game follows the now-popular unlock the cars by winning certain modes so all of the cars are not available from the get go but there are enough to keep a smile on your face for quite a few hours while trying to unlock the others. Some of your old favorites are back, like the old 'Vette and Cobra, and plenty of new ones have been added, like the 1998 Saleen Mustang (YES!) and the old classic Stang.

One of the things that I really liked about TD 4 was the track designs. Instead of having short tracks that required numerous laps, the developers decided to make continuous stretches of road that went on for miles and miles. This was a pretty cool change from what I was used to and I really liked the long races. Well, for those of you who prefer the multiple lap tracks, you are in luck. Those of you who prefer the long spanning races are in luck as well because this game has a both. There are 18 real-world tracks to be exact. You can race anywhere from Moscow to Hawaii. Some courses are short and some are long. The point is that there is bound to be something that will tickle your fancy.

I play lots of games and it seems that game sequels always try to add some new gimmick mode to make it different from the original. This game is no exception. The gimmick mode is the cop chase mode. I assumed that like most of the other games that try things like this that it would end up being fairly lame. Boy, was I surprised. This mode is actually a blast. You get to chase the race cars around from behind the wheel of a cop car. You even have control of the siren and the flashing lights. The object of this mode is to catch up with the race cars and make a positive ID. Once you make a positive ID, a message flashes up on the screen informing you of the heinous nature of the crime the person is wanted for. You then drive after them, ramming your car into theirs until the meter runs down and you can then arrest them. After that, it is off after another bad guy or two. This will continue until you reach the end of the course. Like I said, these added modes are usually pretty lame but I think they did a great job with this.

One of my minor gripes about the first game was that the game was really difficult. Actually it was not really a complaint so much as it was a warning. Did the game developers take my whining to heart? Hell no! They probably laughed and called me a little candy-ass. So if you could not win a single race no matter how hard you tried in TD 4, it ain't gonna be any easier this time around. The competition is always looking to bump you and send you spinning off and yelling in frustration. Okay, they did add an "easy" skill level but I think you will have a totally different definition of easy than they do.

Finally, this game does a great job of mixing arcade gameplay and simulation controls. You can choose between arcade or simulation handling but I never really noticed much difference. What I am talking about refers more towards the overall feeling of the game. I really got the feeling that I was behind the wheel of the car but there was always some corner I was sliding around or some high flying jump that I would hit to remind me that this was just a game.

Graphics

The graphics in this game were a bit of a step up from TD 4 yet they don't quite reach the level of Turismo. Don't get me wrong, they still look good, actually great, but just fall a little short. Once again, this is still a hell of a compliment because the graphics in Turismo are unmatched. Everything from the detail of the cars to the awesome crashes to the flashing cop lights look great. They even went for the high detail replays which are a blast to watch with all of these crashes and jumps going on.

Bottom Line

There are so many racing games on the market today that it takes something really cool to grab my attention. Test Drive 5 did just this. It is one of those games that you can't wait to show to your buddies. I don't know how many people I dragged over to my desk and made them play a race (usually Scotland... play it once and you will know why). This game is just a blast to play. If you are one of those people that must win every game you play, you are going to in for some unhappy nights because the computer controlled cars will kick your butt and not look back. So far, this is the holiday racing game to buy.

Game Reviews

Full-time high-res graphics, split-screen racing, cops, four-wheel physics and many new tracks head the list of improvements in TD 5.

This time around nearly twice as many cars are available as well (28) including the '70 Chevelle, '69 Charger, '67 GTO, TVR Cerbera and lots more.

Running in high resolution gives the game quite a boost graphically. In fact, it could easily give Need for Speed 3 as well as Gran Turismo a run for their money. Four-wheel physics provide individual handling traits as well as awesome wipeout scenarios. Speaking of handling, Arcade Mode is much more stable than last year's offering, specifically when cornering. Spin-outs are not nearly as prevalent and a greater sense of control is evident on all the tracks.

Other graphic niceties include MultiDynamic environment mapping. Basically a means of providing pretty shadows on the cars as they pass under trees and other objects. Night driving looks pretty good as well.

Add short-cuts, a kickin' soundtrack featuring real bands, plus a more comprehensive Drag Race Mode to the list too.

Give Pitbull Syndicate and Accolade credit for handling their sequel with care. The new features and improvements are well-placed and don't seem to jeopardize the integrity of the game.

  • MANUFACTURER - Pitbull Syndicate
  • THEME - Racing
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2

People say:

7.5

Compared to last, TD5 has more of everything: cars, tracks, physics, animations, etc. It's even running in high-res. It's all very nice. Pitbull did a great job of improving this unique racing title. I only wish they would've tweaked the racing gameplay a bit more. On one hand, it's very fast and smooth with really good speed emulation. It actually looks like you're going fast when the speedometer says you are. Surprisingly that's something a lot of racing games screw up. So that's all fine, but while it's fun to go fast--it's way too hard to go fast, control the car, AND keep up with the Al opponents. Often, a dip or bump in the road will send you flying or spinning out, putting you out of the race instantly. Momentum killers is what they are. And too many of them exist in the game. It's just too frustrating to play in the Cup event when every race must be run flawlessly to place in the top 3. At least in the single race option you can adjust your car to the course. Strangely this isn't an option in the Cup races!? I had the most fun just trying to improve my times in Time Trial Mode. Overall, I'd still rather mess around with TD5 than about 75 percent of the PS racers out there. After all, what other title offers such a cool mix of cars? When the gameplay gets closer to NFS III, it'll be awesome.

7.0

This is yet another contender for the "nice graphics, lots of cars, cool soundtrack" award, and it does an admirable job. It's fast and smooth, it controls nicely (sliding the RWD cars is spot-on) and it has some of my favorite bands playing the tunes. The racing itself can be a bit dull though. The pack rarely holds together, so pitching a '98 Vette against a '70s brute is more academic than "old school" wheel-to-wheel racing.

7.0

Test Drive 5 is no Gran Turismo, but it's still a very solid racer and a definite improvement overTD. The graphics are sweet--all of the tracks are beautifully designed (especially the later ones), and the action is fast and fluid, even in split-screen races. Control is a little bit on the sensitive side though, and the CPU racers are way too skillful in the Cup Races, which can make things frustrating. It's perfect for arcade-style racing fans.

6.5

I'm impressed with the graphical effects added to Test Drive 5 but I can't say it's really that improved over Test Drive 4. It suffers from the same problems as before: unsightly pop-up in some of the tracks, loose control for the most part and Al opponents that clear the finish line long before you just because you spin out one time. It may have a kick-ass soundtrack, decent visuals and a nice selection of cars but it's no Gran Turismo.

Overview

"You need to go that way very fast; if something gets in your way, turn!" There are all sorts of races, from a quick get-in-the-car-and-drive to a World Cup race series. This version of Test Drive also allows you to drive as the cop going after the speeding cars. That option is novel, but I did not find this feature as exciting as driving the cars and running the races. I have had this game for months trying to review it, and I kept looking for the greatness the Test Drive name is known for, but it is just not there. I have played most of the previous versions of Test Drive, and this game is better than its predecessors, but by comparison to other racing games on the market this falls short of the mark. There are some basic things that never change like the cops, traffic, tracks, and lots of cars (unlike Test Drive III) and a few new things like playing as the cop, better graphics and realistic courses, but the overall play was weaker than expected. There are some missing things that games today should never be without, specifically modem and Internet play. Who let that slip the ship? Sorry, Accolade, I hope Test Drive 6 is better.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The box says "Bigger, Badder, Faster!" Yeah, right! It does take up a lot of disk space even on a minimal install (bigger), and it is a step back for multiplayer capabilities (badder, as in less good), and it does require more PC than the stated minimum requirements (faster) to play it and get the full experience. This version falls short of the mark in many areas.

Do not try to play this with keyboard controls. This did not work very well for me. A joystick is a minimum requirement, and if you can swing it, even a cheap steering wheel and pedal set will make this game a lot more fun to play. These days you can pick up this type of hardware on sale for $30 to $40. If you play a lot of driving games, it may be worth investing in a force feedback wheel set; there are more and more coming out and the prices are dropping. The way I look at it, you only live once but you crash lots and lots of times, so you may want to cut down on the number of times you crash. My gameplay improved significantly once I got the wheel and pedal set.

As with most recent driving games, you have some cars and courses locked until you win the right to play them. I understand the concept, but I would like to see games have everything open and have skill levels to work up through. Instead, you have to play the same courses over and over again until you earn the right to drive the next set of courses, and the same thing goes for the locked cars. I would like to have skill levels like Learners’ Permit, Rookie, Veteran, and Seasoned Veteran where each skill level would get harder to win the races and more realistic in the driving, perhaps not even allowing an automatic transmission choice in the top level. That would be more fun than the current setup.

For some reason, the cops only chase you and not the other drivers, even if you are in last place. They only seem to go after the live players. This troubles me. They should have made the cops go after the fastest cars only; then if you are in last place, all the cops should be off chasing the leaders, slowing them down and giving you a chance to catch up. You can turn off traffic and the cops and lower the difficulty level, but if you use these options you cannot unlock any tracks or cars, so I found this a waste of time other than to learn the tracks that were open.

One last gripe -- the credits play every time you close the game, and it is really annoying. It is one thing to see them the first time you close the game or to be able to access them from the Help and About screens, but to show them every time you quit annoyed me BIG TIME! It took me a few times pushing buttons on the keyboard to find the correct combination that would kill the credits. Later I found that clicking the left mouse button also killed them.

Multiplayer

This game can only be played over a local area network or on a split screen. Who makes a game now that cannot be played at least over a modem, if not over the Internet? It is hard enough getting six people or even four people ready to play over the Internet in the comfort of their own homes, and most normal people do not have six workstations in their home, so using the multiplayer option on this game is really restricted. It would take a business environment to play this with six people. Not everyone has access to these types of resources.

Graphics

This is one of the strongest areas of the game. There is a great variety of textures and landscapes and levels. I liked the great variety of level changes in the courses. You really get the feeling of flying over a hill and catching air, and yes, crashing if you get too much air. I ran in the highest possible resolution and sometimes it could get a little choppy. If you have the minimum system requirements, you will not be able to see the quality in this game. PII minimum and at least an 8 MB card, I would say a 16 MB card.

Audio

I guess, at 35, I am now considered OLD! I hated the music on this, but I am sure that the younger end of Generation X will think it is fine. I would have preferred music from the '60s, '70s, and '80s. I turned off the soundtrack because the car and engine sounds are convincing and appropriate for this type of game. I liked the sound effects and they do add a lot to the gameplay.

System Requirements

Minimum: 166 MHz Pentium processor, 32 MB RAM with a Direct3D compatible 3D accelerator card with 4 MB RAM. 150 MB hard drive space for a minimum install, DirectX 6 (installs with the game), Windows 95/98, sound card, and at least a 4X CD-ROM drive, mouse, keyboard and joystick is recommended.

Reviewed on: PII 350, 192 MB RAM, 16 MB Diamond Viper 550 AGP card, Windows 98, 32X CD-ROM drive, Microsoft force feedback wheel and pedal

Documentation

The documentation is limited to the CD-ROM liner notes. There is one glaring error in the documentation. It states that you can play this over the Internet or modem, but I was informed directly by Accolade support that this feature slipped and did not make it into the game (as mentioned above). At the very least, this should have warranted an errata sheet to be included in the package.

Contacting Accolade for this information was much more difficult than it should have been. The CD-ROM liner notes did not include a tech support phone number, only an email address. When I contacted technical support via email on this issue, they never responded. I called a general number for Accolade, pulled strings as a game reviewer and got connected to Development, who confirmed what my hours of trying in vain had already told me: you can’t get there (the Internet) from here. Only by using my clout as a GameFabrique reviewer did I get an answer to my questions. I definitely expected better support. There always needs to be phone support available.

Bottom Line

For today’s standards, this game falls short of the mark. It is a better game than the other Test Drive versions, so if you loved Test Drive I, Test Drive II, III, or Test Drive 4, you will like this one also. But if you play a lot of games and have seen or played other current driving games, there are just too many things that will get on your nerve about this game. The biggest problem is no support for modem or Internet gameplay. Any game that does not provide this feature is at a severe disadvantage to the competition. I will still want to get Test Drive 6 when it comes out and I hope it will support modem and Internet play. Test Drive 5 is still worth playing, but I would not pay full price for this game. Wait for it to be marked down and then add it to your collection.

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