Test Drive Off Road

Copyright: © 1997 Accolade
Genre: Sports

Sports
Test Drive: Off-Road
Test Drive: Off-Road is a disappointing entry in Accolade's classic Test
Drive series. Even a rocking soundtrack cannot save this marginal game
from mediocrity. Greg Kasavin's review at GameSpot says it all: "The
ancient conflict of man vs. nature rears its proverbial head once again
in Off-Road, Accolade's latest entry into the venerable Test Drive
series. The human-made racetracks and highways of common racing games
give way to dirt, snow, and mud paths in Off-Road, and you can heed their
calling in a military Hummer, a classy Land Rover, a rugged Jeep
Wrangler, or a rock-solid Chevy truck in a mud-soaked race to the finish
line. Buckle up in one of said road hogs and take to nature's trails in a
dozen different tracks, ranging from temperate to snow-covered to desert.
You'll race against three other opponents at any one time, and
split-screen and network options are available if your friends think they
can take you on. And if you're fast enough to dust the competent
computer-controlled competition, you'll unlock several hidden vehicles,
including a monster truck and a dune buggy. Test Drive: Off-Road is pure
arcade action: Speed, cornering, and the handbrake for those extra-sharp
turns are all you need to worry about. You'll take some big spills in
Off-Road, but your ride's performance will never falter. Even if you
tumble over, you'll magically reappear rightside-up to continue the race.
But beneath the simple gameplay, Off-Road boasts a cleverly realistic
physics model, as your truck will convincingly bounce over rocks and
ditches and topple if you hit a bump during a sharp turn. The assorted
vehicles handle differently, while various road conditions add still more
variety to the race. Each track is pleasantly spacious and unrestricted,
and (as the title suggests) you needn't stick to the road at all. Indeed,
if you're hoping to bust some records, you should count on having to take
a shortcut or two. Just make sure to pass every checkpoint along the way.
A down and dirty 3-D engine powers the action, while authentic sound
effects and appropriate musical accompaniment by Gravity Kills add flavor
to the package. Gravity Kills' soundtrack, reminiscent of Nine Inch
Nails, works well with Off-Road's gritty theme. And the sound effects are
effective, though slightly underpowered. (And yes, you can honk the
horn.) The game looks great at maximum screen resolution with all options
enabled; each vehicle is painstakingly true to life, and you can choose
its color and styling before you take to the track. Each machine takes
visible damage as you beat it up, while the three styles of tracks all
look satisfyingly natural. Unfortunately, Off-Road runs as slow as tar on
a Pentium-133 when all the fixins are enabled, but you can modify the
polygon and texture redraw to better optimize it to your computer.
However, even at maximum visibility there is still a noticeable case of
polygon pop-up on the horizon. At the same time, of the many camera
angles available only a handful are effectively playable, though the rest
are nice to look at in the race replay. While Off-Road is not a
complicated or particularly sophisticated racing game, it has solid
control and fast, wholesome action and proves to be a welcome change of
pace from many of today's racing titles. This is an unpretentious title
that works well as a quick fix of thick mud and big trucks, and it's a
lot of fun over a network. While it's not quite as good as the real
thing, Test Drive: Off-Road sure beats paying through the nose for
insurance and having to go through a car wash three times in a row." Fans
of driving games would do well to stick to earlier Test Drive classics.
 

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