Test Drive: Eve of Destruction

Destruction-derby games usually spell sheer metal-shredding carnage, and Test Drive: Eve of Destruction delivers more fender annihilation than you can imagine. But it's also an innovative, deep, and spellbinding racing game. Instead of just slapping together a string of mayhem-filled events, Monster created an absorbing and surprisingly unique Career mode that makes the game worth playing for a good while.

PS2 Games: Test Drive: Eve of Destruction

The long list of events delivers some impressive variety, and shockingly, they're based on events that real-life insane people actually drive in - you can unlock the video footage to prove it. In Gauntlet, you drive one way around the track, while a pack of other cars goes the other way and basically tries to kill you. Or there's the awesome trailer race, where you pull a camper or boat trailer, and you're out if someone knocks your trailer off. Other derby standards like suicide races, figure-eight jump races, whip-around races, and much more pack the roster. You can unlock a slew of cars and fun special vehicles like the all-powerful school bus or the flimsy postal wagon.

Back to that Career mode, it's really the heart of the game. You start in a hub-like town, where you can take your cars out for a practice spin. You can also shop for new cars or put your money on the line by racing other locals or betting you can set a record time in addictive stuntman-like time trials. For the real action, you head out of town to enter events, but even that's not just a loading screen - along the way, you race an opponent to the track. You can spend your winnings on a variety of cars like speed demons, derby crushers, and more - and you'll need to, because cars wear out over time. As your reputation grows, you unlock secret racing series and other cool challenges.

The cars handle like a breeze, so extreme racing prowess is not required. The cars have a great dirt-track feel that makes setting up slides and spins simply a blast, and the game is tuned to reward you for playing like a battering ram or a racing technician - your call.

The audio, however, clocks in as just average. The track announcer is gratingly lame, and the game offers a pretty standard array of hard-rock tunes. The sound effects do their job just fine, but there's nothing exciting about them. Visually, though, the game fares much better. You can knock the crap out of your slickly rendered car in an impressive variety of ways, and the tracks and landscapes looks sharp in that lovingly tongue-in-cheek redneck kinda way.

Test Drive games are usually street-racing affairs, but this left-turn into destruction derbies really pays off with a rich experience. If you're even slightly interested after reading this, go pick up a copy - you won't be able to put the controller down.

SCORE CARD

Visuals: Nice landscapes and accurate car crash models

Audio: A little lame, could be improved

Gameplay: Addictive yet simple

Developer: Monster Games

Publisher: Atari

URL: www.atari.com/us/games/test_drive_eve/playstation2

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