Test Drive 6
Windows - 1999
Description of Test Drive 6 Windows
The Much Maligned Series Returns
The Test Drive series is the longest running series amount arcade racers, and beginning with the fourth, the most maligned. Since Test Drive 4, the series had devolved into titles that were at best mediocre. Add to that, competition from Need for Speed. Suddenly Test Drive went from being the best in the genre, to a just another title. Now for the last several days, I've been evaluating Test Drive 6. Is this the one that finally makes the break from mediocrity and challenges Need for Speed? The answer to that is no, but there is some bad news and a little good news about this game.
The Bad News
The first major thing that bothered me was the graphics. I have an Athlon 550 and a TNT-2 Ultra graphics card and 128 MB of RAM. For whatever reason, this doesn't seem to be enough for Test Drive 6 as it has severe problems with pauses throughout gameplay (sometimes lasting as many as several seconds). This problem is especially noticeable on the point-to-point tracks, with London being the worst. There are ways to work around this problem: turn down the graphics settings, get 256 MB of RAM (that recommendation above really was not a misprint), or get a third-party memory manager. What bothers me is that this happens to me on 800x600 resolution and 16 bit color. Need for Speed IV has much more detailed graphics and this pausing problem doesn't exist there.
The graphics themselves are decent but largely unimpressive. They do capture the look and feel of each of the tracks. There's the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Roman Coliseum in Rome, and even Central Park in New York. The sky textures are themselves nice looking, but if your car points upward enough, you see where the bitmapped graphics end (it looks like just a solid colored circle and is located directly above you).
The next major problem has to do the tracks in the game. The box claims that there are over 20 new tracks, although that's a bit deceptive as this game recycles several tracks from Test Drive 4. I'm also assuming they're also counting on racing the tracks in reverse. But that isn't the problem.
The big problem is the issue of the "invisible barrier", a convention used by many arcade racers to keep the driver on the road. Test Drive makes use of this here, but does it poorly. It is bad enough that they use it at all. It's even worse when it's executed such that it becomes indistinguishable from the road. Take Paris for instance. The first time I raced that track I came upon what I thought was a branch in the road (see picture below). It turns out that one of the branches was in actuality an invisible wall. In fact I slammed into two different walls that I thought were roads. What was more bothersome was that random traffic seemed to materialize out of thin air and was able to travel through those invisible walls.
Then there's the issue of sound, or what there is of it. The box again claims that there are environment specific sounds, although having played most of the tracks, I couldn't hear much in the way of environment sounds. Another bothersome area with the sound, aside from the fact that it is at best mediocre, is that the stereo on it was reversed. The sounds of cars that I thought were suppose to be heard on my left side were really heard on my right speaker. I thought maybe I had my stereo wrong until I tested the diagnostics and verified it was set correctly.
Next, there's the issue of the games AI. The traffic apparently does not know how to drive in this game. It seems I can't go a race without seeing a collision between several computer-controlled cars (and I'm not even talking about the competition you race against). The cars you do race against aren't that much better although they do make a small effort to avoid a collision with you. Still it seems like most cars aren't aware of your existence and will sometimes turn into your path, creating the collision. This can make racing in general a frustrating experience.
The physics modeling in the game is questionable at best. Funny things happen when you get into collision with another car. That car takes off into the air, doing acrobatics of their own, while you're left on the ground still going. It seems now that instead of you taking a spin through the air from a collision, the other car does. The only penalty you seem to take is that your speed gets reduced and maybe your heading gets changed. If only I get that lucky in real life. It would make plowing through rush hour traffic on I-25 a fun experience for once.
Controller support seems to be a problem with this game. I never could get it to detect my Gravis Xterminator controller, but it does detect the Interact V4 steering wheel. With force feedback turned on, the game brought my computer to its knees. Even using a force feedback wheel has problems though. Now I know force feedback does steal away some resources, but I should not see a game go from smooth execution to a slide show (I'm taking about 2 to 3 frames per second at best here.) Clearly controller support could've been done better.
Finally among the long list of issues is that of the music. I realize Pitbull Syndicate signed on several groups to do the music for the game, and on its own merits, the music is good. The problem is that the music seems out of place with this game. Somehow hearing "Cars" being played as I'm racing through Paris doesn't sound right.
The Good News
After having read all this, one would ask, "Why didn't this game get the junk rating?" The answer is that Test Drive 6 just barely evaded the junk rating (Harley Davidson or Hard Truck are a lot more deserving of it). Test Drive 6, despite all this, is an improvement over Test Drive 5. On top of that, I was able to have some fun playing this game.
The first major change in the Test Drive series is the introduction of the economy. Just like Need for Speed: High Stakes, your cars must be purchased and upgraded. Test Drive allows you to upgrade your car in four areas: engine, brakes, tires, and suspension. In each of these four areas, there are four levels of upgrades to purchase. Purchasing these upgrades does affect your performance and goes a long way toward making the races a lot easier.
Also for each race, you and the other racers much place a wager on the race. The winner of the race wins money, the second place driver breaks even, the third gets some money back, and the other three get nothing. This money can be used to further upgrade your car or purchase new ones. Unlike other Test Drives, all the cars are available to you if you have the money to purchase them.
Another area that has been improved are the cops in Test Drive 6. Remember from Test Drive 5, the cops only pursued you and not the other cars, and only needed to be ahead to pull you over. This time, the cops will actually chase down and pull over the computer traffic. On top of that, they actually have to force you to a stop in order to pull you over.
While the tracks have problems with the invisible barrier, their multipath nature does add another dimension to the game. Sometimes that alternate path is a shortcut that cuts seconds off that race time. At other times, it may even cost you some time to take that alternate route. In either case, Test Drive 6 seems to have more of them and I had fun shooting my car through some of them. The point to point tracks are the most fun ones on the circuit, especially Hong Kong. Each track now has breakable objects along the way, like trash cans, tables, and boxes. These will slow your car down when you hit them, so its best to avoid them.
Probably the most endearing feature of the game was Fear Factory's rendition of "Cars." The game comes with the music video for the song that you can watch at your leisure.
Driving a Lemon
Sadly, Test Drive 6 has still got a long way to go before it can even compete with the Need for Speed series. Test Drive was about driving exotic cars, great cockpits, and great scenery. Now it has devolved into an unpolished, poorly designed arcade racer. Despite all the flaws that come along with this game, it still isn't a total disaster. There is still some fun to be had, although I suggest waiting until its price comes down first before buying. It certainly isn't worth the $30 dollar price tag that I see in some stores.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Muhammad Okky 2020-08-28 0 point
Test drive 6 dosen't work on windows 8.1.... when i run it, it will blue screen of death.
Snowstorm 2020-04-14 0 point
This is my childhood game. In this lockdown it will be good flashback :)
prof_who_loves_psx_games 2020-03-25 1 point
It's been almost 19 years since the last time I played this game. Thank you :)
MikeNvX 2019-11-02 0 point
I don't know why but this is the best racing game for me, I've always loved it, thank you!
The Swede 2019-07-30 1 point
Since you haven't stated what OS you're using and what dll-error you're having, it's hard to help m8.
But going to [https://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Test_Drive_6] might give you some clues to solve it?
Grimmlock 2019-07-28 1 point
when you boot up the iso it installs but when it goes to do full launch it is missing. dll files help me please. i wish to have some nestalgia with my brother and this is hindering it, i have looked on some blog sites and help forms but cant seem to find whats missing
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