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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
6.3
Visuals
6.0
Audio
7.0
Gameplay
6.5
Features
6.0
Replay
6.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Atari
DEVELOPER:
Rockstar San Diego
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
August 21, 2001
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Drive Unlimited

Test Drive Unlimited

More in this Series
 Written by John Scalzo  on September 25, 2001

Full Review: Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire.


Doing stuff you're supposed to do isn't always fun. Sometimes you just look out your window and think, "hey it would kick ass if I veered off the road and just started driving through that corn field." Well, if you think like that enough, then read on my friend, read on.

Test Drive Off-Road: Wide Open gives you three large locations and a bunch of options to satisfy your off roading desires. You are given three locations to start racing in: Moab, Yosemite and Hawaii. And these locations are big. Really big. Luckily the locations are split up enough that the different races take place in different parts of the location. What's kinda cool is that you can go anywhere in these locations. Like the name says the tracks really are wide open, you can go anywhere, but sometimes it's hard to know where you have to go. Of course this leads to one of the games big problems. The levels are too large, and if you don't know where you're going, it's really easy to get lost. They give you a map and you need it, but you can only use it during the race. And it's not any easier reading a map and driving at the same time in this game than it is in real life.

You can race through these three locations in one of three game modes. There's Single Race, Career Mode and Free Roam. Let's start with Single Race. In Single Race you pick you truck, pick your location, and then decide which type of race you want to play. See there are three different types of races. There's the Circuit Race, which is just your basic 2- 3 laps around the track race. There's Blitz Races, this is like the 100 yard dash of racing, you go really fast on the straight track and hope you win. And finally there's Scramble Races. These are the most wide open as you try to be the first to go through all the checkpoint flags before anyone else does. The cool thing is you can do them in any order.

The Career Mode is basically just like Single Race, except they pick the tracks you are going to race on and you have to buy a car and eventually other cars to race with. The Career Mode has it's moments, but it's just so much like Single Race. There's just no customization options in the Career Mode, it's just so shallow. So now this leaves us with Free Roam. And Free Roam plays exactly as it sounds. You pick a location and you drive, wherever you want for as long as you want. Fun for a few minutes, but unless you're three it gets old fast. There is also a basic two player mode that let's you play Single Races and Free Roams with two people. Not bad, but where's my four player?

OK, so you know what you can do in the game, well what about how it plays? Well, that's a mixed bag. Like any off road game, you drive around a lot of shrubbery, trees, telephone polls, and other stuff. And there's your big problem some stuff you drive right through, others you bounce off of. And you don't know which is which until it's too late. At one point your truck is knocked around by tumbleweeds, but later on, telephone poles you can drive right through. A little consistency would have been nice. The controls are simple enough, but a little loose feeling as it's really easy to flip your truck. You use the standard three button control scheme (one for gas, one for brake, steer with control pad) that racing games have used forever. And if it's worked this long why mess with a good thing, right? Thankfully the game moves along at a constant framerate throughout. Much better than the nasty slow down we saw on Infogrames' last game, Motor Mayhem.

Test Drive Off-Road: Wide Open isn't really going to blow you away in the graphics department, but it's decent all the same. I really think the graphics were kept more low key so as to get that nice framerate I mentioned up there. Everything just looks so much like everything else. There's no personality, it's all green grass, brown dirt, blue water, nothing to make you say "wow!" They're good graphics and all, but they could have easily been done on the N64. And there's even a little bit of pop up in some parts too. It's like look, it's the finish line, hey where'd that tree come from? I was also somewhat impressed with the sound. We're given a nice rock soundtrack with a cool standout track from Metallica called "Fuel." But the background music and engine noise manage to drown out any other sound in the game. That's what happens when you get a high profile soundtrack. Any other sound is deemed unimportant. Shame, shame.

As for little bonuses. There's some good and there's some bad. First the good, Test Drive Off-Road: Wide Open features some great rumble support. I was impressed seeing as how this feature is almost universally ignored in other games. And it was also cool that all 13 trucks used in this game are the real deal. And you can make them any color you want (I'm not the only one that wants to tool around in a white Ford Bronco, right?). Although I was very unappreciative of the lengthy load times there are. It's just one of my pet peeves.

Bottom Line
What it all really comes down to though is that Test Drive Off-Road: Wide Open is good for a weekend rental, but it's just not deep enough to play for any real amount of time. So you can rent, but I don't think you should buy.


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