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Test Drive: Eve of Destruction Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Monster Games
Number Of Players:

After a brief period out of the spotlight, it looks like demolition racers
are en vogue again. Games like Burnout, Destruction Derby, and now Test Drive:
Eve of Destruction have taken the simulation racer with licensed damage-free
cars, given it the finger and put the focus on driving as fast as you can while
hitting whatever you can. Test Drive actually combines typical destruction derby
with various off the wall races, and it's a formula that works -almost. The
game's not very deep, the story mode is uninteresting and a lack of online
support keep it from being a must-own game.

Eve of Destruction focuses on all aspects of small-time, Friday night racing.
Sure there are destruction derbies, but there are also several other
competitions and races, so you've got to be well rounded before you're crowned
king of all rednecks. There are two main gameplay modes, a career mode, where
you literally take a guy living in a trailer park from rags to kind-of riches,
and there's an action mode, where you can just race individual events and unlock
extra cars and tracks. If you're all about smashing cars, racing and unlocking
everything you possibly can, the action mode will be your cup of tea, just be
forewarned – you can beat and unlock everything in under ten hours very easily.

If you're looking for a little more depth and want to pace yourself, the
career mode adds a basic story and some new, albeit minor gameplay elements to
the fold. You start off in a small dirt town, in front of your trailer home with
your grandma's clunker of a car and nothing to do but go racing. The town
consists of a junkyard, where you can pick up a "new" ride and trade in your old
wreck, a shop where you can paint your car and purchase upgrades, and a diner,
where you can challenge a local racer to a race with a monetary bet. For the
most part, you'll just find yourself driving from your house to the junkyard to
the racetrack, not paying much attention to the other parts of town, and
desperately trying to up the game's mundane pace. The town is quite large as far
as actual land mass goes, though there are only a handful of buildings and it
takes a good 30-45 seconds of boring driving to go from place to place.
Fortunately you can just pause the game and pick where you want to go, which is
what they should have done to start with, either that or make the town 75%

Once you near the racetrack there will be a fellow driver sitting on the side
of the road waiting to challenge you to a pre-race sprint to the track. If you
beat him, you'll earn some points towards a better reputation (if only it was
that easy in real life), and if you lose, nothing happens. You've got to be
careful when racing to the track however, as any damage your vehicle incurs will
carry over to the "eve" of racing. Once you get to the track, there's a long
winded intro where the cars drive into the track and get up to speed. This is
probably to disguise the load times, but perhaps a more thorough description of
what each race is about, or in the case of racing with a car chained to you, why
it exists, would have been better. The race types include a figure-eight race, a
"no rules" race on a larger track,  destruction derby, a race where you do
a lap and then turn around and drive it backwards, an event where you race with
a trailer, and yet another where you race with another car chained to the back
of you. One of the best races is the "suicide race" where half of the cars start
around an oval track in one direction, and the other half takes off the other
way. Needless to say, when the two groups meet, cars are flying everywhere and
the challenge is to find a clear path through to keep racing. Generally, there's
not so much of a need to race fast here; just focus on staying alive as most of
the other vehicles won't finish. The wide variety of race types is nice,
especially when compared with the lack of variety in Destruction Derby: Arenas,
but some of the races aren't that much fun and you'll find yourself either
skipping them to get to the more fun stuff, or bored as you go through them.
This is why the action mode is such a temptation – you can unlock everything and
you do nothing but race.

While most everything to this point has been positive, there are several
things that keep the game from being as enjoyable as it could be. First and
foremost are the physics. The game doesn't do a great job of conveying any sense
of speed, so while your speedometer may read 85mph, it feels closer to 50. Sure
you're driving clunkers, but if the game says I'm doing 85 down a bumpy dirt
road, it should feel like I'm doing 85 down a bumpy dirt road. The driving
physics are also out of whack when it comes to the way the cars handle in turns.
They feel heavy and they spin out far too easily. Once you have spun out, it's
so difficult to turn your car back around that you'll likely just end up abusing
the "hit select to get back on track" feature and not even bother trying to turn
around on your own. The game also gets very tedious when you are just trying to
unlock stuff, as points are tough to come by. To make matters worse, after an
hour of accumulating points, you'll only get something lame like a station wagon
or a new area to do the same races over and over.

Eve of Destruction's graphics are middle of the road, and it does nothing
particularly well, nor does it do anything poorly. There's an option for 16×9
support, though when you first activate it, black borders are put on the sides
of the screen until you race. The cars aren't licensed, but they are modeled
after real vehicles, one of which, a Gremlin, is named "Algar" after Garth from
the Wayne's World flicks. Each vehicle is nicely rendered, though there isn't
enough visual damage, which means that the best way to check the condition of
your car is to look at the damage meter. The framerate is steady most of the
time, but it can get a little choppy in some of the demolition arenas. The
tracks are well-designed and filled with items to crash into, but for some
reason, there's no map, so it can be difficult to win some races on the first
try, since you're probably going to smash into a wall after a tricky turn at
some point.

PS2 owners get the short end of the stick when it comes to the game's audio,
since the game only features seven songs. Sure, they're pretty good, and artists
like Rob Zombie and Hoobastank contribute tunes, but really, seven songs is
pathetic. Xbox owners can enjoy their own custom soundtracks, which, as usual is
the way to go. The sounds of cars smashing into one another sound like they
should, tires squeal loudly, and of course, there's an annoying announcer that
screams out the same sayings over and over.

Eve of Destruction is close to being a ton of fun, but instead it's a case of
missed potential. The career mode while a nice idea, is boring, the physics are
questionable, and while there is multi-player, the lack of online support is
sorely missed. If you can pick it up for a good price, and you know what you're
getting into, then it could be worth a purchase. For anyone else that just wants
to kill a rainy weekend, it's worth a rental.

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