TD overdrive

Quick Take - Midnight Club meets Burnout, collides head on and leaves a mangled wreck

Cockfosters

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The Test Drive series has a long and not very illustrious history behind it, and its latest incarnation merely continues this decade long decline. The centerpiece of TD overdrive (simply known as Test Drive in America) is the Underground mode, although sadly this doesn't involve riding around on the Tube all day, something that would have been infinitely more entertaining.

No, instead you are thrown into the world of illegal street racing, a world inhabited by stereotypical characters ranging from the dangerous sex kitten and the spaced out surf dude to the arrogant German and uptight Englishman. Voice acting and dialogue throughout vary from awful to downright insulting, and although you can skip this pre-race blabber by hitting the Start button, the bad news is that the drivers continue their inane whittering during the races. Each driver only has about three (really annoying) things to say, and they'll repeat these constantly. Given that the sound effects are utterly uninspiring, you can at least safely mute the whole thing and be done with it. On the music front, the soundtrack includes such appropriately titled songs as "Lackluster" and title track "Ugly". Maybe somebody in Infogrames' licensing department has a sense of humour.

The racing itself is just as bad. You have four vaguely recognisable cities to drive around - San Francisco, London, Tokyo and Monte Carlo - but, this being an illegal activity, many of the races take place at night. Sadly Pitbull don't seem to have fully grasped the concept of street lighting, and as a result most of the game's early races are virtually pitch black, leaving you struggling to make out cars that aren't using their headlights as you carve your way through the traffic at 150mph. The resulting collisons are nowhere near as spectacular as those found in Burnout, and you have to find your own way out of the wreckage when they're over, a process which will usually drop you to the back of the pack. Luckily the only thing you have to worry about is making it to the next checkpoint before your time runs out, because if you fall too far behind, the other drivers will helpfully slow down to a crawl to let you catch up again. There are a variety of quick race and multiplayer modes on offer as well, covering linear (A to B), circuit, drag race and police chase events, but most of these courses must be unlocked in the Underground mode first, which is a tedious soul-destroying experience.

Conclusion

The writing was on the wall for TD overdrive from the moment we began our first race and noticed the loading screen features a game of Pong. Unfortunately Pitbull have made the ball move so fast that it's utterly unplayable. Let's face it, if you can screw up Pong, the single most basic videogame in the history of mankind, you don't have much chance of getting anything else right. It's amazing that Infogrames have the cheek to even release a festering pile of junk like this when the Xbox already has a great street racing game in the form of Project Gotham. Do yourself a favour and steer well clear.

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