For those looking for a Grand Turismo, this game isn't for you. But for die hard Test Drive fans, you will absolutely love it. The game starts out with your choice of 8 drivers to choose from (5 guys and 3 girls). You get to make a quick trip in your choice of an Audi Quatro, Lotus Elise, or Chevy SSR. After accumulating enough cash, you can purchase a starter vehicle and a starter home. Yes, you get to buy a home. In addition to home purchases, you also get to buy clothes. In the game, there are missions where you will be a taxi driver and drop people off at their destination within a given time frame. In doing this, you will earn one to five dollars. Once you acquire the cash, you can visit one of the many stores for new pants, shoes, jackets, hats and motorcycle wear. Also, once you own a home you may edit the looks of your character. It's not that detailed and there's definite room for improvement, but some of the changes are noticeable.
Other ways of earning money is through deliveries, races, and performance. With this cash and the completion of these tasks, new car dealerships and races worth higher money are opened. You can start the game with a Golf Rabbit living in a shack and end the game driving a Saleen S7 and then owning a million dollar chateau overlooking the ocean. Once you have played the game long enough and completed enough missions, you can enter paint shops and change the color of your car. New this year is the addition of motorcycles. There are only three dealerships and choices of cycles are limited. You pretty much choose between a couple of super bikes and two/three hooligan bikes (ie. Ducati Monster). There are races and missions for the cycles just like the cars.
The online game play is unreal. I say this because online game play is occurring the entire time you're playing. If you're on the board and if your console is turned on, then you are automatically online. You could be driving down the street looking for your next mission to complete and pass fellow gamers. This feature really freaks you out the first time you're driving around without having to select something like "go online" or "online racing" or "multi player". While playing, you will suddenly hear two other people having a conversation through your headset. There are races throughout the map that are for online racing only. You may also challenge people to a race for the pink slip to their car. Pimpin' ain't easy, so think twice before you decide to take a chance at losing that hard earned cash. You can also schedule race hours, days, weeks and months ahead of the start time explaining what's up for grabs, how many people may enter, and when and what track it will begin at.
Another feature of the game play is free reign. If you want to drive your Lamborghini over a hill, across a mountain or through the desert, it's your damn money. You need not worry about damaging the car because there is no damage involved. If you get stuck, simply press a button and you're back on the road. This is the one feature I cannot stand because I'm a Grand Turismo guy, but Test Drive lovers will understand and enjoy that aspect of the game. Look around carefully while in free reign as there are hidden portals that warp you to islands you thought possible not to reach. Hint: Look at the top of the mountain across from the far right island…that's all you get.
Overall, I would give the game 3 out of 5 stars. This may be a biased opinion because I like to be able to add graphics, buy a supercharger, change the rims, and raise or lower the ride height; but it is what it is and it's a fun game. Don't worry about hesitating to spend the $60, you will spend more time than you think playing this game.
Concord, North Carolina