Genre : Racing
Developer: Monster Games
Release Date: August 24, 2004
Sometimes I hit these strides where all I can do is stare at the ceiling with a copy of Pimped-out ****in’ Carz or Silicone-Enhanced Violent Boob Patrol lying inches away from me waiting to be played, wondering who the hell buys these things. And now I sit here, staring at my computer screen, with a copy of the new Test Drive game lounging about in my Playstation 2, and I can’t help but want to scream out to the gaming gods, “why has the Test Drive series lasted so long? Why are amazing racing masterpieces now gathering dust at the bottom of forgotten bargain bins while this series releases its fifty-sixth edition? Why is there no market for a Daytona 2 home port, but a sizable one for this bumper car-level tripe?” But I won’t ask the electronic deities why things are the way they are, because I know enough about the answers. In a nutshell: Marketing. Cheap development costs. $$$$$$$$$$$$$. And thus we have Test Drive: Eve of Destruction, a game that lets you ram into other cars quite a bit and listen to a licensed soundtrack with only a few more songs than you would find on the top of your extra-large fountain drink at Burger King during their Backstreet Boys free CD promotion. This game is bad. Not bad/funny. Just bad.
Eve of Destruction takes its concept from those sideshow events that take place at monster truck rallies before Gravedigger rolls out and runs over a school bus and everybody goes home bombed out of their minds by alcohol. These events are called destruction derbies. The concept is simple: the drivers are kind of trying to race, but mostly they get off on smashing head-on into other vehicles. This is how Eve of Destruction plays. There are a few variations on this formula, many of which are actually present in Test Drive, but none fall too far from the tree whence they came.
Now that the winding, deep concepts of the game have been laid out, let us look at how it controls. As with most Test Drive games, it plays like hell on wheels, and not in the threatening sense of the term. At first, the game is agonizingly slow because of the vastly underpowered selection of cars to choose from. But as you advance through the game, you realize that while the crappy cars are slow, the pedigree-tier of vehicles are… also kind of slow. This is likely because it is much easier to crash into things when they are all moving with just enough speed to maybe get out of the way of your oncoming assault, but probably won’t. You can throw on the first-person view if you want to make things look a bit more sped up (third-person views do not lend themselves to a sense of speed in any game, at least in comparison to a first-person option, if it is an available option), but that won’t help much.
There are a few different modes slithering about in the game which must have taken some effort to put together, which cuts out any usage of the insanity plea for our friends at Monster Games, Inc.; this game was wholly premeditated. The best mode is probably the Flagpole race, since it allows for the greatest number of crashes, and that’s just about all this game has going for it. The mode involves a number of cars trying to circle a set of flagpoles at “high” speeds. Because sharp turning is inherently difficult to master and the fact that Test Drive games handle like absolute garbage, the wreckage count runs high here. Whip Around is another crash-heavy mode. Though not as violent as Flagpole, it might be a bit more fun for fans of classic racing. Players simply drive a lap around a course, do a 180, and finish the course going in the opposite direction. Head-on collisions galore. Boy, if you like watching stuff smash, these modes are for you!
Red Rover is the most interesting, but not the most wreck-heavy, so I’m sure the audience for this game will stick with the previously mentioned modes of play. It has drivers going from one zone of a “course” (is that the right word for these mud-filled empty areas?) to another. Each time this path is completed, the last one there is cut out of the race, and the process is repeated over again until a winner is crowned. If you want to brush up on your playground-inclined strategic theory, Eve of Destruction games are the place to do it.
If you’re a true car-crashing nut, this game is filled with courses that allow you to… hit… other… cars (whew, this theme is getting old, huh?). Many of the tracks are built specifically to allow for the most crashes humanly possible. And those destruction derby connoisseurs out there will get a kick out of crazy options like having a trailer or even another car chained to the back of your vehicle. All it really means is that the already atrocious handling gets even worse, and you might hit stuff more often! Perhaps this sounds charming to some, and maybe it is for a minute or two, but it all gets old. Fast.
One fun and slightly innovative feature is the crazy menu system that has players actually driving from option to option in an actual car on a small road. It’s cute, but you’ll be hopping over to the quick-select menu after the third or fourth time. Again, the handling is terrible, so why put yourself through unnecessary turmoil? The big problem here as that the quick-select menu is a bit of an afterthought and isn’t streamlined very well, while the real-time driving menu is a bit less of an afterthought but still isn’t streamlined very well. It’s not a good way to get gamers on the right foot with your game.
It almost goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Eve of Destruction is not a looker. By any means. Since extra software effort is needed to produce proper anti-aliasing results on the Playstation 2, none seems to be present here. Textures are muddy and bland, and even the mud itself looks like a lot less than it should. With all of the great looking racers coming soon like Outrun 2, or the great new classics that have already released such as Project Gotham Racing 2 and Burnout 3 (the latter of which also has a heavy emphasis on crashing – except developer Criterion decided to make it fun), Test Drive is just an ugly duckling with absolutely no future as a swan.
To add profound insult to all of this, the game only features seven songs. Seven. That’s less than some mini-albums out there. That’s definitely less than NOW 83. Worst of all, it’s a whole lot less than any of Test Drive’s competitors. The selection is so small that it completely beats out Burnout 3 in terms of annoyance. While Burnout 3 has the same style over and over, at least it has a large selection of songs. Now, I like System of a Down. But if I hear their song on the Test Drive soundtrack one more time (thankfully I won’t, since I will not be picking this game up again), I promise I will jam pencils in my ear canals and fish out every sonic interpretation apparatus inside.
Eve of Destruction is a simple cash cow. Cheap concept, cheap marketing, cheap licensing, cheap development costs. Only a few unsuspecting souls need to waste their hard-earned dollars on this trash in order for Atari to turn a profit. And they probably will. If any of you who buy this weren’t given it as a gift by a gaming-ignorant relative or friend, I honestly don’t know what to say.
Come on, Atari. At least pretend you think the gaming community aren’t a bunch of half brain dead idiots.
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