Test Drive: Eve of Destruction
Yeeeeeeeeehaw. Test Drive: Eve of Destruction is far different from all those other racing games. Instead of being a city slicker like some of the other games in the series, Test Drive: Eve of Destruction abandons the bustling metropolises in favor of delivering good olí fashioned country destruction at county fairs and dusty backroads. Also, instead of driving pimped-out Civics and fast Ferraris, this game has you taking control of rusty station wagons, beat-up jalopies and some worn out sports cars. If that donít make for a rootin, tootin good time, I donít know what does.
Sorry for the awful redneck talk. Iíll stop now. Anyways, just because thereís a redneck theme doesnít mean you shouldnít take this game seriously. It ranks with Burnout 3 as having the best blend of racing and demolition. While a bit more polish would have been nice, this severely underrated title delivers in nearly all aspects.
There really isnít a whole lot of ďstraightĒ racing in this game. In fact, out of the 25 modes, only the Jump Race doesnít feature a gimmick that encourages crashing, but even then youíll wind up with some damage since there are a couple of conveniently placed jumps on each track. Youíll see a lot more chaos in modes such as the Suicide Race, which has two groups of cars going in opposite directions. Even crazier is the exciting Whip-around Race. Once you complete a lap you have to powerslide across the line and then start heading the opposite direction. Granted, there are some massive pileups at the turning point, so a bit of luck is needed in addition to skill. The Figure-8 Jump Race probably has some of the best crashes, mainly because the camera zooms in Matrix-style when thereís a painful crash on the four-way intersection.
The most delightfully redneck mode is the Trailer Race. Towing a large trailer while making a turn is quite a challenge, but when you have other people trying to destroy your trailer and eliminate you from the race, the thrill is upped a notch. Hell, you can even have a Bus Race. Apparently people do both of these silly events in real life!
The rest of the modes are a bit more gimmicky, but the action is still there. In the Gauntlet you drive a massive, speedy hearse that must complete five laps while a squad of other cars tries to take you out. The roles are reversed in Detention, in which you control a bus in an attempt to destroy a group of cars as they try to complete five laps. One of the most entertaining modes is Soccer. With a massive ball placed in the center field and two to three people on each team, goals are scored any way possible. Of course, thereís also the basic Demolition Derby included. Itís nothing fancy, but ramming cars and trying to be the last man standing is more exciting than it seems.
All of this is quite entertaining, but when one to three more people join the fun it becomes an absolute blast. Soccer reaches a whole new level of enjoyment, and all of the other modes become drastically improved. There are even two modes, Battle and Capture the Flag, which are only available in multiplayer. Battle places all of the cars in a demolition derby-type scenario, except now you can launch exploding chickens at eachother. Itís utterly ridiculous, but also totally frantic and addictive.
Thereís more to the game that just picking a group of events to play. One of the many strengths of Test Drive: Eve of Destruction is the thoroughly involving Career mode. Starting off with a crappy compact car and a pocket full of cash, youíre at the bottom of the barrel and must work your way to the top spot in the racing/demolition circuit. While driving around town you can head to the junk yard for a new vehicle, to the shop to spray paint your car, or race for cash against some local boys. Sometimes you have to stop by your house to repair your car. The more damage you take, the more permanent damage is sustained, so eventually youíll have to trade your ride in for a fresh one.
When youíre all set and ready itís time to head to the eve. Eves are basically a series of events in which youíre rewarded points depending on your performance. If you get the most points, you win the tournament money and your rank improves. Thereís a nice blend of racing and the more destruction-related events, but some of the events arenít nearly as prevalent as they should be. This means that you spend a lot of time doing similar events, even though the courses themselves are varied.
If for some reason the Career mode and the quick-play events werenít enough, thereís more replay value in the form of the Dare mode. Basically, youíre given a simple objective for 26 exhibition events, and if you complete the enough of the tasks youíll unlock some nice goodies. Speaking of unlocking, thereís a nice amount of bonuses to obtain. Whether itís the unintentionally hilarious videos of hillbillies talking about their passion for destroying cars or unlocking a new vehicle, thereís more than enough here to consume your time.
As fun as racing and unlocking stuff is, there is occasionally an odd bug or two. One time, while playing on the Multitap, two of the player-controlled cars managed to get stuck on some bales of hay. Normally when you get stuck youíre allowed to reset your position, but for some reason we were unable to. All we could do was watch helplessly as the other two completed the race. This happened only one other time, but even though itís rare doesnít mean itís forgettable. Itís definitely something that should have been ironed out in the testing phase.
Another problem with Test Drive: Eve of Destruction is the awful selection of music. While the game reeks of an amusing Midwest America vibe, the music is an inexplicably generic selection of pop-punk. While a couple songs fit the racing vibe perfectly, Sum 41 has a particularly awful tune that feels totally out of place. The fact that there are only twelve short songs makes some of the music an absolute nuisance while playing the game for an extended amount of time. The relatively minimal announcer can also grate the nerves a bit, but itís hard to hear him over the roar of a dozen engines.
At least the graphics manage to show off the viciousness of destruction eves. The damage the cars receive is brutality rendered. Hoods fly off and all sides become violently crushed. Holes appear after particularly damaging blows, and smoke pores out the engine when your car starts to die. Even all of the arenas look distinct, so you never get bored when it comes to the visuals.
The one thing that would have made this game a true gem would have been some online play, but the multiplayer is so entertaining that itís easy to overlook. Test Drive: Eve of Destruction has already lasted two months despite some seriously heavy play by all of my friends, and Iím sure it will last much longer than that. The singleplayer is no slouch either since the Career mode lasts around ten hours. For sheer replay value, this racing game is one of the best. It also justifies purchasing that Multitap youíve been thinking about getting every now and then. Yeeeeeehaw.
Nine out of ten