published by CroTech
“This most recent game in the Test Drive family comes out swinging, bringing down the walls of previous racing titles and showing us the future of online racing.”
Even though it is set entirely on the island of Oahu, this game is nothing remotely close to sandbox. Atari claims to have over 1,000 miles of road in it and says it takes usually at least an hour to drive around the coast of the island. After testing it out myself I found that it is completely true.
There isn’t much of a single player to speak of. The game starts off at an airport where you choose from several characters standing by the gate. You pick one to represent you and you fly to Oahu. When you get there, you grab a rental car and go buy a house to live in. After that, you buy your own car and that’s it. The rest of the time is spent taking on the AI in various single player challenges or completing missions.
The graphics are amazing. The best I have seen in a racing game to date. Everything from the water effects, to the plains, and cliffs of Oahu look amazing and the sound is superb. All the vehicles sound just like there real life counterparts. Everything from the whine of the engines, to the whisper of the wind, and the sloshing of the surf sounds real sometimes
making you feel as though you are really there.
The game play is solid. The controls are simple and easy to remember and the cars handle very lifelike, even stalling when you switch gears too early. Being able to hop into challenges at anytime is also a key feature of the game play. You can go into any challenge by either just driving by it and clicking the “A” button or you can go through your map and it will taking you to any challenge assuming you have been there before. Thereis also an in-car view making it the second game to have that after Project Gotham Racing 3. There is some problems making the game seem less lifelike such as your going 240 mph and you come to a grinding halt because you hit a shrub and also the cars don’t take damage at all. The various car manufacturers didn’t want consumers to see what would happen when thier cars get hit at high speeds making the game seem less lifelike.
Over 150 missions and challenges are spread out across the island, from helping models get to photo shoots to delivering cars for people to point to point racing and accumulative top speed challenges. Dozens of Car and Bike showrooms are dotted around the island from Classic Jaguars to Lamborghinis and Ducattis. The classic showrooms usually have a waiting period while there cars are out of stock and you will need to reserve them. Unfortunately, the cars may never arrive and you will
need to re-reserve them so that you can get the car
There isn’t much in the way of customization for the cars. All you can customize are the rims, interiors and the basic paint jobs. You can make your own paint but there aren’t any decals or spoilers that you can add like in Need For Speed.
There is some character customization as well such as hair, gender and eye color. There are also clothing stores on the island where you can buy new clothes, sunglasses, and shoes from several different brands like Echo and Ben Sherman. Houses for sale and realty stores are located on the island too. You buy houses to put your cars in and will need to buy more houses when they fill up with your cars and bikes. If you see a house you like then you can take a tour. If you want to buy it then find the realty store that is selling house.
Now we get to where the game really shines. The real reason to buy the game. The Multiplayer. This is called MOOR or Massively Open Online Racing. If you have a gold subscription, you will see other gamers driving down the streets. You can challenge them to races right then and there and set up the start and finish.
You can also just cruise with friends and enjoy a nice relaxing drive. There are slight problems with this as it is difficult to get on the same server as a friend. You will need to keep flipping to your map so that it may move you onto the right server when trying to meet up. When you do get on the same server then you can lock your friend and as long as they don’t go to there map or into a shop or race, you will stay on the same server.
You can hop into online races at anytime and take on other gamers insteadof AI as well. These games are usually lagging however making the game play less then desirable. You cross the finish line in first and it says you came in third is a good example of this, as is a person shooting down the track when your screen hasn’t finished counting down to start the race.
Clubs are also a feature. You can start or join clubs of people. If you are starting one then you pick a club house from the many throughout the island, a name, the level you must be to join and then you can send out invites to people who are interested. You can compete in races for cash, take on other clubs or just have a race between members of your club. If you just want to join one then go into any clubhouse and there you will find a list with all the clubs that people are in on your friends list.
You can also create your own challenges for other people to play. At diners you can either play other people’s challenges or upload your own. There is even a built-in Ebay of sorts where you can sell your cars or bikes to other gamers or buy their used cars and bikes. The prices are usually much higher then the car is worth however and is best to just buy a new one most of the time.