With Atari moving the focus of the Test Drive series to next-gen consoles, the publisher has handed off developing duties for the PS2 version to Melbourne House, a studio familiar with racing games. The Xbox 360 version of this game was a critical success, but the game relied upon a massive online world for its charm. Can a PS2 port capture that same kind of experience?
Sadly, the answer seems to be no, as it seems to be almost entirely a recycled port of the PSP version. The letterboxed menus would be understandable if a widescreen option was available, but this is not the case. Rather, they were recycled from the portable iteration of this title. Despite this, the graphics are not horrendous; the game looks great on the PSP and manages to suffice on a larger screen. Also, the team created a world that can be driven completely around with little noticeable load time, which is a definite plus.
The real advantage this version has over its smaller counterpart is online play. The PSP port suffers from connection and lag issues, and is limited. The PS2 version fixes this, with more features, but it obviously pales in comparison to the options on the original 360 version. It loses most of the customization in the transition: original avatars and races won’t be found here, and online trading is gone too.
On the bright side, Melbourne House did make some improvements to how the cars handle. The vehicles each have a noticeably different feel, and this does make the car choice more than just a superficial one. Unfortunately, the team’s engine does have a few flaws. Virtually all roadside items are treated the same, and a small roadside pole can bring cars traveling at any speed to an immediate stop. This becomes annoying at times, especially in the middle of races. Also, the cars take no damage, which is strange for a supposedly A