Right from the start of Test Drive 6 it is obvious that Pitbull and
Infogrames were not content to just let this latest offering float on
brand recognition alone. Rather than reducing development
budgets and shrinking staff, they seem to have really made a push
to make this year the best Test Drive yet. And it shows. A multitude
of licensed sports cars, occasionally crisp graphics, and
surprisingly realistic driving physics all show that there is still
plenty of life in this sequence of driving games.
The graphics in Test Drive 6 are a bizarrely mixed bag. On one
hand, the car models are colorful, detailed and reflective. On the
other hand, and it’s a big fucking hand, are the trees. Not only am I
sick and tired of looking at pixilated 2D trees, the ones in Test
Drive 6 have a jagged thick black outline around them. If you
happen to go off course and come in contact with them, they
mysteriously turn like revolving doors at the mall. Then again, I’ve
never actually been to Europe, and that’s where a majority of the
tracks are set. Perhaps that’s how the vegetation is over there, so
give Pitbull points for that little bit of realism.
Speaking of Europe, does it rain like, constantly there? It rained
five out of the seven times I raced in Paris, England and Rome,
respectively. Even when the rain decided to stop falling, the skies
and scenery remained a bland shade of gray. Other the other
hand, which would be the first hand for those of you playing at
home, the New York race takes place right at sunset, with a
beautiful red and orange horizon. Though a major improvement
from the flat graphics of Test Drive 5, Test Drive 6 comes nowhere
close to the highly detailed, highly stylized graphics of its main
competition, Need For Speed.
Lackluster sound effects, dull engine roars, and a dorky 3-2-1
announcer make the sound category mediocre at best. Perhaps
the worst and most annoying sound effect of all is the engine road
sound effect that plays every fucking time you do anything in the
menu system. I can’t believe any play tester in his right mind let
that pass through quality control.
Borrowing a page or two from the Need For Speed series, Test
Drive 6 features all the now standard modes of racing. Quick race
a few locations, career competition racing for better cars and
parts, cop get-away mode, split screen racing, all the typical stuff
is here. With that said, and I’m sure you can figure out what I am
going to say next, where’s the rest of the game? Hey guys, why not
try coming up with something original for Test Drive. Rather than
sticking their neck out and flexing a little creative muscle, Pitbull
seems content to just let EA and Need For Speed dictate the
features they need to include in their games. Not that originality is
the end all for a game to be entertaining or successful. But if you
are planning on ripping off an idea, you had better do a damn fine
job of it.
I have no complaints with the traffic and computer racer AI. Traffic
will attempt to swerve out of your way when possible, but
oncoming traffic has the tendency to swerve in the lane you were
heading into. Cross traffic and aggressive police result in some
pretty spectacular crashes, points for adding steam and fire to
damaged traffic. Negative points for not including racing car
damage. Yes, I do realize this isn’t the fault of the designers, I am
directing my disrespect towards the car manufacturers themselves.
Apparently these guys believe that I base my automotive
purchases on computer representations of their cars, and
apparently seeing a few door dings in the game is going to sway
my buying interests. Mmmkay.
Save for the split screen racing, Test Drive 6 is pretty thin on
multiplayer action. The cop/bad guy game is pretty entertaining,
with one person playing the law and the other as the getaway
driver. Obviously a result of direct console porting, multiplayer in
Test Drive 6 is nothing short of lacking. Back to the drawing board
on this one, guys.
Contrary to popular belief, the sixth time isn’t a charm. Though
steadily improving year after year, the Test Drive series still
manages to lag behind the competition in this, its sixth version. I
must give credit to Pitbull for having the gumption to give it one
more go, this time under the publisher Infogrames. Though I have
never considered myself a fan of the series, this year’s Test Drive
did manage to exceed my (admittedly low) expectations. And
though I cringe at the thought of a seventh entry, who knows what
a few more dollars, and a few more hours would do for this game.