Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Duel - Test Drive II: falling off cliffs

There are some genres of game that have progressed beyond all recognition.  With driving games, very early examples retain some of their charm, particularly those that use the template of a relatively static road and moving car such as Chase HQ or Outrun - have you noticed how when you steer in Outrun, you are steering to avoid your car drifting to the side of the screen?

When developers tried to progress beyond this, the games have aged less well.  Test Drive II is technically quite impressive for the Mega Drive, with a seemingly polygonal road winding around in front of your car.  This is made all the more impressive when you get to sections with one side of the road bordered by a cliff, which moves and rotates correctly.

But it is horrible to play today.  The framerate is low enough to cause headaches and the controls are floaty and imprecise, making it very difficult to avoid traffic or falling off a cliff.  The other cars approach in discrete steps, making it difficult to judge when to pull out and when to brake.

Despite this, I completed the first section of the game, before running out of petrol just past the end point (since I didn't realise you had to stop).

That represented only two penalties - one cliff dive and one headlong crash into a stupid van that appeared from nowhere.  I was feeling quite pleased with myself.  That didn't last long.

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