In this sixth installment of the Test Drive series, any pretense that you're actually taking a test drive has been completely abandoned. Now, gameplay has evolved into a bunch of crazy drivers zooming around in expensive cars through crowded urban areas, which is, of course, a lot more fun.
The cars are divided into four classes, with class I being the slowest, least maneuverable, and class IV being the top of the line. You begin with only enough money for a class I vehicle and race for prize money to buy improvements. The races come in four varieties: tournament, single race, challenge, and cop chase. Tournament and single are self-explanatory, but the challenge mode is one in which you race without opponents, trying simply to complete the track in a certain time. In the cop chase, you switch sides to take on the role of a police officer who must stop and ticket the six racers.
For a racing game to be of merit, the tracks must be the most important consideration. This goes double for a game whose concept is illegal racing, because the "track" isn't really a track in the traditional sense. Test Drive 6 does a superb job of making you feel as if you're within the confines of city streets. The surroundings are beautiful and feature cross-traffic, country specific cop cars, stop lights (only there to look at, certainly not obey), landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty, and an array of debris to scatter off your hood (tables, chairs, garbage cans, and so forth). Boredom with the environment is never a problem.
The second most important requirement for a racing game is the cars, and Test Drive 6 is loaded. You needn't be an expert, or even the tiniest bit knowledgeable about them to enjoy buying, upgrading and maniacally driving the large selection of automotive transportation offered.
A slight problem is easy nature of gameplay. Getting a feel for the tracks, the controls and the competition will take a couple of hours, during which time it's a fairly challenging experience. However, after earning and saving enough money to buy some upgrades and memorizing most of the tracks, it becomes much easier to leave the other racers far behind. You'll be buying the million dollar class IV models before you know it.
Oddly enough, though, the innovative idea of the cop chase mode isn't fully compatible with the challenge of the rest of the game. It's a fun idea, but the cars the police drive are horrible, as evidenced by their terrible steering and acceleration. Being a cop after driving the superior vehicles available to the racers is like trying to run with lead weights tied to your limbs.
Although the complaints aren't major enough to detract significantly from the overall playability of Test Drive 6, they will possibly limit the amount of time you'll eventually want to spend with this basically good game.
Graphics: Beautiful tracks and cars; city environment is quite realistic with streets, lights, traffic and assorted objects.
Sound: Extensive sound track, plus nice gear grinding.
Enjoyment: Addictive after a few races but a little too easy in the long run, especially after tracks and controls become second nature. Cop chase mode is problematic caused by bad car handling.
Replay Value: Challenging until all the tracks become too familiar.
Test Drive 6 gives you the opportunity to own and race high-performance sports cars without investing millions of dollars. The 40 licensed vehicles include modern and classic cars like a '69 Dodge Charger, the '99 Dodge Viper GTS, the '99 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage Coupe, and the '99 Toyota GT-One. Once you have chosen your vehicle you can race on 34 tracks in locales like Jordan, Switzerland, Maui, and Italy. Many of the single-player modes from the past games Single Race, Time Trial, and Cup Race have returned, along with the new Cop Chase. You are a police officer and must issue citations to traffic violators within a time limit. There are a number of two-player options available as well including Cop Chase, Single Race, and Quad Race. Keep you money in your pocket and race expensive cars in Test Drive 6.
People who downloaded Test Drive 6 have also downloaded:
Test Drive 5, Test Drive 4, Test Drive, Test Drive: Off-Road 3, TOCA Race Driver (a.k.a. Pro Race Driver), Test Drive 3: The Passion, Need for Speed 5: Porsche Unleashed, Need for Speed: High Stakes
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