Accolade'sTest Drive 4 offers a realistic driving experience in one of 10 different cars. These 10 cars include five new models, three muscle cars, and two all-time classics. The game features 12 tracks on which to race these vehicles.
TD4 has five different racing challenges, each with its own special style. In the "Challenge Cup" drivers run several races, competing for the best cumulative time. The "Championship Cup" has drivers striving to earn the most points. There's also the "Pitbull Cup," a race in which a driver may only advance if he finishes in first place. The "Masters Cup" has drivers going for the best cumulative time, making several runs in different cars. The last mode is the "Drag Race" in which the object is simply to get the best time on a quarter mile track.
Are you a fan of older-generation muscle cars, or do you prefer today's high-performance, technological wonders? Do you like brute force or sleek elegance? Is style in your vocabulary, or do you go for the word classic? It really does not matter how you answered the above questions, because the choice is yours. You can race in today's hottest production vehicles or choose the muscle-bound terrors of yesteryear. It is now up to you to settle the score once and for all.
Test Drive 4 is the latest installment of the Test Drive series and looks to outdo the mediocre Test Drive Off-Road. We all know how crowded the racing scene is starting to get on the PSX. Sure, the Test Drive games have been around since long before your beloved PSX, so it does have a bit of a right to keep putting out new racers. All we ask is that the games change enough to warrant a new release. Test Drive 4 is definitely like none other in the series, or for that matter, in terms of gameplay, it is like no other racer -- period. Take heed, this is not a game for novice racers. This massive tracks, insane AI and ultra-responsive (almost touchy) controls will leave you crying for your mommy!
I am in one of my get-straight-to-the-point type of moods. With that in mind, let me get to the point of Test Drive 4. It is hard. No, let me rephrase that. It is damn hard. This is one of the hardest racing games I have ever played. Now, there are two types of hard a racing game can be. The first type makes the game hard because of poor design, loose controls and crappy gameplay. The second type of hard, which is where Test Drive 4 falls, is hard because of excellent tracks, realistic controls and incredibly persistent computer-controlled opponents. This game is all of that with sugar on top. So don't come complaining to me when you get so pissed that you launch your controller at your TV, because I warned you!
There are a lot of elements that go into making a good racing game. One of the most important is the types of cars you get to race. If this is your number 1 criterion, you will be in heaven with this game. Let me fill you in on your choices. For the fans of modern day sportsters, you can race as a 1998 Dodge Viper, 1998 Chevrolet Corvette (complete with new body style), 1998 Jaguar XJ220, 1998 TVR Cerbera and a 1995 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. You like muscle? Step behind the wheel of a 1966 Shelby Cobra Convertible, 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS454, 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda, 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL-1 or a 1969 Chevy Corvette. Some of these are stock, some have been modified. All of the cars are fast and handle differently, so it is very important to choose your vehicle wisely.
The next thing that makes a racer good is the tracks. If the tracks are short and boring, it does not matter what type of car you drive because you will quickly lose interest. Test Drive 4 has 10 tracks available. At the beginning, there are five selectable tracks. If you finish in first place, you will open a reversed track of the one you just beat. So, you have five normal tracks and five reversed tracks. Let me just say that this will be plenty to keep you busy for quite a while. The tracks are also scattered across various famous locales. You can race in San Francisco; Washington D.C.; Keswick, England; Bern, Switzerland or Kyoto, Japan. All of the tracks are very long and take up to five minutes to finish. You don't make laps. You just head for the finish line. Each track has a variety of twists, turns, straight-aways, jumps, weather and road conditions. Like I said, these tracks will keep you busy for quite some time.
One thing that I really like, even though it frustrated the hell out of me, was the realism of this game. First thing you will notice is a marked difference in the speed and handling of the cars. You can't just pick the fastest car and go out and start kicking ass. You need to judge the track before choosing your vehicle. The next thing you will notice is that all the surroundings affect your race. You can race through traffic and if you hit an oncoming car, you will be sent spinning out of control. Also, unlike most racing games, if you leave the main road area, your car will slow way down. In other racing games, you can cut corners or ride the shoulder and it will have no effect on your car. Not here. If you drift off into the grass or turn too sharply onto a sidewalk, your car makes a noticeable slowdown. This was very refreshing to see a game that actually makes you drive on the road to win.
Let's talk about the competition level. Now before I go any further, I want to preface what I am about to say with the fact that I am usually really good at racing games. Actually, after I get the feel of the game, I can usually beat it in no time. Let's just say that this is one of my strongest genres. With that in mind, I could not beat this game. Normally this is not something a game reviewer will ever admit to, but I want to give you an idea of the challenge (and frustration) you will be up against. First and foremost, the computer controlled cars are the meanest SOBs around. They seem to really enjoy bumping your car and sending you in a spinning frenzy. The worst part about that is that once you lose control, you will almost never regain any lead or catch the current leader. It does not matter which car you are using, because they will hunt you down no matter what. The crappy thing is that no matter how hard you try to bump them back, you will either end up spinning yourself out or just minimally altering the course of the other vehicle. The best thing to hope for is that the computer-controlled cars start taking each other out so you can whip by.
There was one thing that really pissed me off about this game. It was not really fair. First, like I mentioned above, it is just plain hard. To make things worse, it seemed like the same car would always win. So, me being the smart guy that I am, decided to pick that car that kept winning every race because it was obviously superior. Well, it really did not work out that way. I could not control the stupid thing. I would crash into walls, smash into barriers and usually just plain suck. Even if I tried to drive conservatively, it did not matter because you could not keep up with the other cars. This really bothers me. I hate it when the computer can do no wrong, but if you try to drive the car, it is impossible. I followed the car in a good-handling car through some serious twists and turns. The computer-controlled car went through them at top speed without even leaving a skid mark. I tried the same thing in the same car and I was all over the road. That is not fair and it really made me mad.
The other thing that was annoying about this game was that during the gameplay, the game would act like it was skipping. There would be a split-second hesitation and then things would continue on. It did not seem to be triggered by anything, but it may have been caused by the detail in the backgrounds or something. Regardless, it was annoying and should not have happened.
Out of all of the racing games on the market, Test Drive 4 has the most realistic graphics of the bunch. It is so cool racing in the different cars because they all look like the real life vehicle. Unlike other racing games that use real vehicles (I will withhold naming the games, but if you have a need for speed, I recommend checking out this game instead), it seems great effort has been put into making these cars look as realistic as possible. The tracks and backgrounds are all well done, but it was a bit distracting when you were in the tunnels because the lights were shining in your eyes and sometimes it was difficult to see the track. Also, the skipping problem could be attributed to the graphics in some way. I would rather the backgrounds be less detailed than have my game interrupted by hesitations and pauses.
Test Drive 4 is a challenging yet fun game. I did enjoy the realistic approach that it took over the exaggerated arcade style that is so popular these days. The car selections are a blast, and if you are a fan of any of these cars, you will really enjoy racing as your favorite. I only wish that they made the game a bit easier or at least let you adjust the difficulty level to suit your abilities. One little suggestion: you should play this game with an analog controller or steering wheel.
People who downloaded Test Drive 4 have also downloaded:
Test Drive 5, Test Drive 6, Test Drive 3: The Passion, Test Drive, Test Drive, Test Drive: Off-Road 3, Test Drive: Triple Pack, Test Drive II: The Collection
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