Hands-onTest Drive Xbox

We go hands-on with the latest build of Test Drive for the Xbox.

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We recently had a chance to play a new build of Test Drive for the Xbox, the latest installment in the long-running Test Drive series. The game includes quite a variety of modes for you to choose from, including a quick race mode that essentially lets you jump right into the game by allowing you to quickly select a car and a track.

The single race mode offers a little more depth with its numerous options. You'll be able to participate in a linear race where you basically take one lap around the track to determine a winner. The circuit option follows the same basic rules as the linear race, only you have to take multiple laps around the track. In the navigation option, you'll have to drive through the streets of San Francisco and change direction at the command of the arrows that appear in front of you. This particular option will really put your turning skills to the test. The single race mode also offers a drag race option, which is simply a straightaway race where you compete against one other drier. Lastly, there is the cop chase option where the roles are reversed and you get to chase down reckless drivers speeding through the streets. You'll have to arrest every driver on the course by tapping his or her car three times.

The underground mode functions as Test Drive's story mode. There's a relatively brief sequence in which a character explains that he needs your driving expertise in order to avoid losing a large amount of cash. After you agree to help him out, you'll basically go through a series of races that will take you to the streets of San Francisco, Monte Carlo, Tokyo, and London. You'll earn varying amounts of cash depending on your performance in each race.

The graphics in Test Drive are surprisingly good. While the car models aren't as detailed as those of some of the high-profile racing games, they're still reasonably detailed, with some nice reflective surfaces and a respectable driver character model. The environments are particularly impressive, and you'll find that most of the tracks in the game are modeled quite closely after the real thing. In fact, we were able to instantly recognize some of the lesser known landmarks on the San Francisco track. The textures are also quite clean and crisp. However, there are still some visual problems in the game. The London track has some particularly nasty polygonal tearing problems that occur near the skyline, and some of the real-time reflective effects on the cars look a little disjointed at times. Otherwise, the game manages to maintain a solid frame rate, and the clean look should appeal to fans of arcade racing games.

The control takes some getting used to because it can feel a little sluggish at first, and it will feel like it's difficult to make really sharp turns. This is especially evident when you're weaving in and out of traffic in the early stages of the game. But, after learning how to use the breaks effectively, the control shouldn't be as much of an issue.

Test Drive for the Xbox is scheduled for release on June 6. The PlayStation 2 version will be out in stores on May 28. We'll have more on the game soon.

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