The Dreamcast's incarnation of Test Drive 6 is essentially a direct port of the PlayStation version. Consequently, all the woes associated with the PlayStation's version are reborn in the DC's, and given the platform's potential, they are excruciatingly more glaring.
In effect what Pitbull Syndicate has tried to accomplish with TD6 is an amalgamation of the no-frills arcade-style racer and a detailed racing sim. Neither of which is fully realized, sadly, as both aspects continually undermine each other.
The experience offered by TD6 is reminiscent of early jump-in-and-play racers; the vehicles handle like cake, and most in-track obstacles are simply meant to be plowed through. The game encourages a speed-through approach to racing; the only brake you'll use is the hand brake, which by default executes vicious powerslides. The tracks' roads are merely suggestions; the cars lose very little speed when offtrack, allowing for some truly wacky race narratives.
TD6's play modes, while seemingly plentiful, totally hint at a nonrealized level of depth. Along with the requisite two-player mode, the title offers single-race, tournament, challenge, and cop-chase modes. Success in the various modes offers a concrete bonus of cash, which is used to soup up your vehicles. This is, perhaps, the title's most discrepant aspect; while the upgrades do often have a tangible effect on the vehicles' performance, the game's inherent pace causes its simulation aspect to appear sorely out of place. Arcade-style racers, by default, place more emphasis on the actual skill of the racer, rather than any improvements made to his vehicle. Races are won in TD6 by regulating speed - maintaining a workable accelerate/decelerate ratio - and by gracious use of the hand brake. You will most probably find TD6 a bit too shallow to actually invest enough time to use its simulation aspects.More on the play modes: Single race, as the name implies, sets up a one shot competition for you and five other racers in your class, the bounty being a bet you put up that the other racers match. Same deal with tournament races, only you're entered into a series of connected events. Challenges have you driving solo on a course, the goal being to complete it under a certain time. Cop chase is pretty conventional; you're the cop, and your job is to pound racers off of the road to score ticket money, which you can use to upgrade your car. In the end the play modes are rather straightforward, offering the genre no real innovation. If taken as a light arcade racer, this sort of thing would go over OK. Under the pretense of simulation, though, this package totally falls short.
The graphics in TD6 are basically the same as the PlayStation version's, with the resolutions upped and some textures cleaned up. They are ultimately a letdown, considering what could have conceivably been done. It seems Pitbull didn't dedicate enough energy to the port; they seem satisfied with releasing a carbon copy. It totally shows, as the game feels graphically more like a current-generation PlayStation title than an early Dreamcast title.
The same often-hip soundtrack remains, containing cuts from such acts as Eve 6, Fear Factory, and Cirrus. As before the tracks are looped during each race, and they get redundant pretty quickly. The mute button will be used, especially during particularly lengthy races.
In the end it's difficult to call Test Drive 6 a disappointment; having played the game's earlier incarnations has left me with an idea of what to expect. If the arcade-style aspects of the game had worked out more, then perhaps this title would have had an edge in the already-huge market of racers. As is, though, TD6 tries to go in too many directions, which, unfortunately, end up undermining each other. It was sort of weak on the PlayStation. On the Dreamcast it's a primped-up clone of a sort-of-weak game. There are a handful of great racers available for the Dreamcast. It's inconceivable for one to choose TD6 in lieu of a game like Speed Devils or Sega Rally 2.