Test Drive 4 Download
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
Haven't Sat Behind The Wheel Of a real ear in years. I don't actually know what a clutch does. I frequently experience massive brain haemorrhaging at the sight of Jeremy Clarkson (but then who doesn't?). You get the picture. It's inconvenient in day-to-day life (you should see my collection of taxi receipts), but a godsend when it comes to writing the intros to racing game reviews. A quick dash of irony to kick things off. Here I am reviewing a driving game and - would you believe it - I can't even drive! Ho-ho-ho.
Problem is, there's a surprising number of people out there who take both real-life driving and driving games very seriously. Very seriously indeed. For instance, a few years ago at the Computer Shopper show, a half-washed, cock-eyed, straggle-bearded nonentity approached the PC stand and began loudly berating us all because six months previously, in a review of IndyCar Racing, the erstwhile Duncan MacDonald had mentioned that the handling seemed "realistic" This was insane, moaned the whiskered oaf, since blah-blah torque blah-blah aerodynamics blah-blah-blah wheel trim blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. He then demanded a free copy of the magazine, before shuffling away to go over his collection of belly button fluff, or whatever it is these angry loners do in their spare time.
If he's reading this now, he'll doubtless be thinking that my personal lack of motoring qualifications should exempt me from passing judgement on Test Drive IV - he's probably even preparing a heated e-mail to the Editor this very minute. To which I say: why don't you just stop whining, put this magazine down for a moment, and then gouge both your eyes out with your own thumbs, you meaningless, soap-dodging dunce?
You make me feel so wheel
Test Drive IVis a boy racer's swerve 'em up which adheres closely to the proven Need For Speed formula: hand the player a set of keys and insurance documents for some of the flashiest cars in existence, then set him (it's always a him) loose in a series of exotic locations - namely San Francisco, Washington, Kyoto, Bern, Munich and Keswick. Yes, Keswick - that world-famous Lake District tourist haven. No kidding - it's here. If you live in or around Keswick, this fact alone surely justifies the asking price (Well, it might if it actually looked like Keswick - Tourism Ed). Hopefully, it also marks the beginning of a new trend, and before long all our games will be overflowing with references to spiritless British locations. Coming soon: The Doncaster Mysteries, Berinsfield Jetski Duellists and the eagerly-awaited Bomb Norwich.
Each of the ten available cars is based on a real vehicle. Some are new (1998 Dodge Viper, anyone?), some are old (such as the 197I Plymouth Hemi Cuda), and some are collectors' items (like the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427). They're all available with both manual and automatic transmission. They look lovely and everything, but really, if you genuinely get excited at the prospect of taking control of one of these beasts, your life is sadly lacking in flavour. I may not be able to drive in real life, but I do know that there's a huge difference between hammering through a country lane in a brand new 1998 TVR Cerbera, and doing the same thing within the confines of a computer game. They could have called the cars anything they liked, and based the handling on anything from a Rover 213 to a Rover 213SE, and no one - including the previously mentioned beardy spod bloke - would have been any the wiser. Still, a little escapism never hurt anyone, eh? Well, not until it starts bordering on paranoid psychosis - but that's another story.
Un-brake my heart
The end result is a proficient high-speed racing game which somehow never really engages the player. It's hard to say exactly where the problem lies. The courses aren't wonderful: despite some wonderful roadside scenery, the tracks themselves are largely devoid of thrills. During the race, the police frequently give chase, but only in a half-hearted kind of a way. Invisible 'walls' prevent you from exploring much of the surrounding terrain, and there's a complete lack of vehicle damage, which means that even a head-on collision at 200 mph feels strangely unsatisfying. Post-Carmageddon, these things do matter, and to pretend otherwise is complete and utter idiocy.
The single most important factor in any car 'em up is the overall 'feel' of the handling; its ability to sustain the illusion that you really are in control of a genuine vehicle. And sadly, in this respect, Test Drive doesn't quite cut the mustard. It's just a tad too... well, clinical. Efficient, easy on the eye, technically impressive, and with plenty of content - Test Drive IV tries hard, but can't quite pull it off.
Test Drive 4 Screenshots
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