Test Drive Preview

The Test Drive series hits the Xbox.

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Infogrames recently stopped by to give us a look at the Xbox version of the latest entry in the Test Drive series. Like the PS2 version of the game, it's simply called Test Drive. Also being developed by The Pitbull Syndicate, the game will feature the graphical face-lift and tweaked gameplay found in the PS2 version. The build of the game we played, while a bit earlier than the PS2 version, looked very sharp.

Making your own road.
Making your own road.

You'll initially find four main modes the game: quick race, single race, multiplayer, and story. Quick race and single race throw you into the action for a few laps and let you familiarize yourself with any of the game's open tracks. Multiplayer is a two-player split-screen race that lets you and a friend find out who the best driver is on any available track. Story mode is the game's single-player game, and it pits you against other characters in an underground racing league. Playing through story mode will allow you to unlock cars and tracks in the game. You'll find a wide range of cars in the game, including sports cars such as the Dodge Viper GTS, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Jaguar XK-R, Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, Lotus Esprit V8, and Nissan Skyline and muscle cars such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Plymouth 'Cuda, and Dodge '69 Charger. The game's various tracks will be set throughout London, San Francisco, Monaco, and Tokyo. In addition to unlocking tracks and cars, you'll be able to unlock additional racing modes, such as cop chase.

Getting a little air.
Getting a little air.

The biggest difference between the Xbox and PS2 versions is in the graphics. Pitbull is working to ensure the graphics engine gets as much performance out of the Xbox hardware as possible. The game's graphics engine is being custom-made to get as many bells and whistles as possible. Fog, rain, environment mapping, are lighting are in, as are other Xbox-friendly features such as bump mapping and pixel and vertex shading. The huge environments were a bit sparse in the build we saw, but they featured clean textures and the beginnings of traffic and pedestrians. The multiple paths to the finish were already in and allowed us to have a look around the city. The frame rate in the early build we played varied a bit but was already at a nearly constant 60 frames per second. The control in the game was still being tuned but was fairly responsive. The open-ended routes through the levels offered a lot to explore as we made our way to the finish. An onscreen meter warned of nearby police and allowed us to avoid them most of the time. An Xbox-exclusive feature can be found in the game's audio. While the game will feature a soundtrack of 15 music tracks, the Xbox hardware will allow you a bit more freedom--Pitbull intends to allow gamers to rip from the CDs of their choice and import the music into the game.

So far, Test Drive is looking good. Pitbull seems like it's making good use of the Xbox hardware. Look for more on the game as its March release approaches.

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