Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: December 15, 1998
Suppose you are an arcade car racing fan who likes driving not off-road and not inside a stadium on a track, but rather along city and country roads that look like the ones you normally use yourself. If so, then you can choose from three main computer games this holiday season: Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed III, which I have already reviewed and given a Reviewer’s Choice Award; Ubi Soft’s Speed Busters, which I will be reviewing shortly; and Accolade’s Test Drive 5 (developed for them by the Pitbull Syndicate), which I am reviewing now. Can Test Drive 5 outdistance the competition? Read what follows and you will discover a definitive answer to that question.
To begin with, the range of cars included in the game simply dwarfs the competition. The game contains 14 exotic recent-model sports cars and 14 “muscle cars” representing past classics, and in addition sports 12 “super-charged enhanced” cars and “secret” cars to make a grand total of 40 different vehicles ultimately available. The recent sports car models (mostly from 1998) include the Aston Martin Vantage, Dodge Viper, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, Shelby Series 1, TVR Cerbera, Jaguar XKR and XJ220, Saleen S351, Chevrolet Camaro, Caterham 7, and Nissan Skyline; and the muscle cars include the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427, 1967 Pontiac GTO, 1968 Ford Mustang 428CJ, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, 1969 Chevrolet Corvette, 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS-6, 1971 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda, and 1969 Dodge Charger. As a car buff I must admit this collection really makes me incredibly excited about getting behind the wheel.
Similarly, the game encompasses an amazing 18 different tracks, many more than a typical car racing game. The track locations include Moscow, Honolulu, North Carolina, Tokyo, Edinburgh, Sydney, Munich, Kyoto, San Francisco, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C. Circuit courses are available in England, Hawaii, Jordan, Jamaica, and Italy. With most of these courses reversible, you have a total of 31 different driving challenges. If you were to calculate how many distinct racing experiences you could have with 40 cars and 31 tracks, well, suffice it to say it would take you an awfully long time to exhaust all the alternatives.
If you are not already overwhelmed by the choices here, the game introduces a special “branching technology” that allows multiple paths, off-course driving, and short-cuts. This feature adds considerably to your creative exploration of how to optimize your movement through each of the courses: if you can find a shorter or less congested alternative path, you can compensate for not being quite as speedy as the computer-controlled cars or your human competitors. I find that because of this technology I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to approach each race.
Pages: 1 2 3