Test Drive: Off-Road



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Test Drive: Off-Road (TDOR) provides some exciting alternative racing action. The competition vehicles and race tracks offer a new experience for racing enthusiast. TDOR includes a number of features that should make this a great racing game. Unfortunately, this is not the "Ultimate" off-road racing game, but it is fun and challenging.

There are four game vehicles and four bonus vehicles for your racing pleasure. The game vehicles are the Hummer, Land Rover Defender 90, Chevy K-1500 Z-71, and a Jeep Wrangler. Each vehicle has its own unique features and performance characteristics such as: speed, handling, acceleration, dashboard and digitized engine sounds. You cannot customize your vehicle except for selecting a color. There are four color schemes available for each vehicle.

Driving is extremely simple as they are all automatic and controlled by a mere five buttons. There are additional buttons for things such as the Horn and a Panic Button. The Panic Button comes in handy if you miss a Check Point or get lost somewhere off the track. Simply hit this button and you are magically transported to the last check point you crossed. If you roll over, wait a few seconds and your vehicle (another magic trick) will be placed back upright and you can get back in the race.

The Options Screen has selections for: five Controller Setups, Power Steering, Anti-Skid, Friction, Difficulty (Easy, Medium or Hard), and Damage (On or Off). You can make the races as easy or as hard as you prefer.

There are three racing options: Practice Race, Mixed League, and Class League. Plan on spending a great deal of time in the Practice Races until you get familiar with the different tracks. Once you move on to the League races you won't have an opportunity for a practice spin around the track.

The Mixed League consists of six challenge cup races, each with six rounds and 23 competitors. In the Mixed League you can drive any of the four game vehicles. You earn points based on how you finish in each race. You must finish third or better in the first three cups to move on to the next. The three remaining cups requires you to finish second or higher to progress further. If you don't finish near the top you can't progress to the next cup. Also, as you move up in the cup races the difficulty level gets harder, so save your game often. There are six additional bonus tracks that become available after you win each of the cup races.

The Class League has a challenge cup race for each of the four game vehicles. All 23 competitors race in the same type vehicle for six rounds per cup. After winning a Class League a new bonus vehicle becomes available. The four bonus vehicles are: Monster Truck, 4 X 4 Buggy, Hot Rod, and a Stock Car. The bonus vehicles can only be driven in the Practice Races.

The race tracks have different types of terrain i.e. dirt, mud, sand and snow. The variety of terrain provides some exciting challenges especially if you've turned the Anti-Skid "Off" and the Friction "On". There are jumps, obstacles and just about everything you'd expect to encounter in an off-road race.

One nice feature about TDOR is, you're not restricted to driving on the track. You can get off the track and take shortcuts or go on a sightseeing tour. You can even go the wrong way around the track. Be forewarned: the racing announcer doesn't like that.

There are four camera views available for racing. Three are exterior views and one is in the driver's seat. The driver's seat option is the hardest to use because of the limited view. If Damage is turned "On" and you're using an exterior view, you can watch pieces of your vehicle getting knocked off when you crash into obstacles.

Get to know your opponents because their driving techniques often become predictable. A good strategy is to turn the race into a demolition derby by smashing into your opponents and forcing them off the road. The game does support a human opponent, but this requires two consoles connected by a link, two monitors and two games.

The graphics are good but there are several annoying problems. First, there is some near clipping of the horizon on the race course. You'll be staring at the distant track when suddenly a new section springs up. Sometimes this new section appears so quickly that you'll have to make a radical steering correction. It seems ghostly strange but there are no spectators at the race or drivers visible in the other cars. Also, when you're next to some objects they become invisible. Nothing worse than sliding off the road and then trying to maneuver out of an invisible grove of trees. It's Panic Button time!

The Soundtrack by the rock group Gravity Kills is absolutely outstanding! You can select the background music for the races from any of the nine available music tracks. Track number 6 is a really good grinding song that will have you stomping the pedal to the metal. It's like getting a "Free" music CD with the game!


If you're into racing games, Test Drive: Off-Road will provide some thrills and excitement. Driving the different vehicles is fun and gives the game some limited replay value. But, after playing TDOR for a week or two, the game may lose its novelty and become repetitious.

Written by Blaine


Overall: ****

Developers & Publishers

5300 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 500,
San Jose, CA 95129.

Technical Support:408-296-8400 Monday through Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm
Fax Support:408-246-0231

Internet Support: Accolade Technical Support
Web site: Accolade

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