I’m completely in love with Test Drive: Eve of Destruction. Ignore the middling reviews and go buy this game. The reviews seem more upset about the subject matter than anything about the gameplay, which is a shame since this is a great racing game.
It is more than a racing game, though. The wide variety of game modes do a good job of breaking up the monotony of simple laps. Detention mode is probably my favorite. You race in a old school bus, and you must destroy the other 13 cars before they can finish a five lap race. Running a school bus up to 65 mph and slamming into an old El Camino never gets old. Red Rover is a close second favorite. In that, a horn sounds then the pack races from one chalked-out box to another. The last driver in loses (and their car stops in place as an obstacle), then the horn immediately sounds again to start the return run. Keep doing that until only one car remains.
I’ve seen a number of reviews complain about the sluggish feel of the cars, but that just tells me they don’t know much about racing and have completely missed the boat on this game. EoD really rewards proper driving, which is a bit of a rarity in console racing games. Let me explain with an anecdote. When I went to karting school, one of the instructors explained to me that they liked to keep people in the lowest-powered karts (sprint karts) as long as possible. That was because those karts didn’t have the power to make up for mistakes in driving. If you set up the turn wrong or braked incorrectly, you would lose to someone who was driving properly and maintained their momentum. Once you could drive the sprint karts really well, you had learned good driving technique that would carry you through your career.
This game is like driving the sprint karts. The cars don’t have the handling or the power to make up for significant driver mistakes. A '75 Cadillac hearse on a dirt track doesn’t handle as well as something from 2 Fast 2 Furious zipping around a paved race track, so if you expect to blast into turns and crank the wheel over, you’re going to hit the wall and lose. On the other hand, if you do it right (set up the turn, hit the apex, only brake in a straight line before the turn, and control your slide with the throttle) you’ll blast around the track like a greased pig. I don’t want to overstate the difficulty though. It is not brutally hard like F-ZeroGX, and runs at a slower pace that gives you plenty of time to anticipate your next move.
Speaking of greased pigs, the art direction is wonderful. They hit the trailer trash/destruction derby aesthetic right on without going too far overboard. I call it “thorough” as a great compliment. They didn’t license the car names, but the cars clearly are modeled after the junkers I would expect to see. I think they have the entire AMC Motors lineup in there, maybe even including a Rambler.
I wish this game had Live support, and the interface in Career mode is a little wonky (like the inability to switch cars at the garage). Those are the only real flaws I’ve seen.
The cool thing about Red Rover and Detention (which applies a bit to the other modes as well) is how interactive and persistent the environments are in terms of knocking hay bales, tire piles, and dead cars around. I really like the Red Rover arena (Dundas, perhaps?) where there are stacks of hay and tires between the boundaries. Similarly, Detention mode is even more gratifying, visually and in terms of breaking up the track, when the bus is plowing through obstacles to get you. There’s this delicious feeling of seeing that bus smash its way onto the track, amost like a shark or whale chasing its prey.
And because the driving works with such a spot-on physics model that steers that knife edge between too forgiving and too realistic, these obstacles matter. We’ve had games won or lost based on the placement of a flaming bale of hay.
Supertanker’s right on about the artwork. I would have thought the redneck – err, I mean, “heartland” – aesthetic would get old. But from the farms to the nighttime tracks across the river from a city to the arena near the freeway (with traffic!) to the great fairground with the rides in the background, the developers have managed to wring a lot of personality from something that would normally serve as a condescending hillbilly backdrop (I say this as an Arkansan with white trash lineage). It’s worth noting that the developers have a real appreciation for the absurdity and appeal of the subject matter without sneering at it. The videos you unlock capture their affection for these goofballs. I love the mulleted guy who explains that if he doesn’t get you to your feet, come find him and he’ll personally refund your money.
The cars have a wonderful battered look that anyone who’s seen The Road Warrior can appreciate, with dopey sayings spray painted across their panels and extra pipes backfiring and popping. It’s equal parts apocalypse, state fair, and trailer park.
Like MOO3 and Shadow Watch, this is one of those games you can use to test reviewer credibility. If it’s not your bag, that’s fine, but to fail to understand it’s appeal really shows someone who just doesn’t get games. It’s the same with writers who didn’t pan MOO3 or who dinged Shadow Watch because, say, your little dudes couldn’t kneel. So when you see a bad review of Test Drive: Eve of Destruction, remember the name at the end as someone who wouldn’t know his ass from an outhouse. This is a brilliant bit of game design that deserves to be recognized.
Oh, and Burnout 3? You’ve got your work cut out for you now…
Like MOO3 and Shadow Watch, this is one of those games you can use to test reviewer credibility. If it’s not your bag, that’s fine, but to fail to understand it’s appeal really shows someone who just doesn’t get games.
The difference is that I can understand the appeal of Doom 3. I completely understand why people dig on it, although I do think hyping it as a “masterpiece” or “redefining the art form” or whatever is pretty far-fetched.
I don’t have much to add to all the EoD praise except that I agree and that I’m mystified by the lukewarm reviews it’s been getting. IGN gave it a 5.3, which for them is like anyone else giving it a zero. But then they mysteriously pulled the review. I sent them a nasty letter, but I suppose they could have pulled it for any number of reasons, for instance one of the other nasty letters I sent them.
Another good thing about the game is that many of the race arenas are places in Minnesota.
I’m going to go slightly off topic here and say that I only played the demo of Shadow Watch and I thought it sucked. Is the game truly better? Nothing about it, except the art, was even remotely appealing.
The demo is very limited in scope compared to the full game, particularly since the character development aspect is so limited. Whether or not the increased scope makes the full game “better” is obviously a personal decision, but I thought it was deep enough to warrant playing through several times. Oh, and yes, the art is great.
Hey, don’t worry folks: I can assure you that both Shadow Watch and, uh, Flying Carpet Munchers or whatever purely sucked as games and you are not missing anything by having skipped them. They do have these weird cultists, though, who are entirely too freaked out that every reviewer in existance blasted the games. You know, “we didn’t really land on the moon”, Harry Knowles sort of people.
–I mean, one of my friends thinks that BMX XXX is one of the best games evar too!
I gave this game to my dad for Christmas. It is WAY, WAY better for multiplayer than Burnout 3. He loves B3, as I do, but there is no way anyone could review Eve and give it a bad score without having inserted cranium analward. We played multiplayer for 3 hours and finally tore ourselves away.
The descriptions of the game already posted in this thread are right on. I would just like to emphasize that car damage is handled better in this game than in B3 (or any other racing game I’ve played), and I love that all the game’s barriers (hay, barrels, tires) stay where they’ve been knocked.
Great game, and I’m really glad I gave it as a gift. To my dad. Who will play with me. :D
I’m somewhat late to the EoD party, but can throw my vote in the hat as well. The low review scores all around are baffling.
My only real complaint about the game is that middle-careerish I’m at a point where I’m pretty much just treading water–after any given Eve, I’m lucky to have enough money left over, after repairs, to buy a case of cheap beer, much less do anything useful with. But that probably has more to do with my lack of skill at the moment than anything else.
I just picked this game up 2 weeks ago, based on Qt3 recomendations such as this, and have to add that the “flagpole race with the school bus” challenge in action mode is a canidate for 2004’s great moments in gaming.