The sound is where Test Drive starts to betray some weakness. Certainly, the game has a good soundtrack, featuring artists such as DMX, Ja Rule, and Moby. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to make your own playlist. As you play, there will be one random track assigned to the current race, and it will loop for the duration. While many of the songs are quite cool to listen to, they may eventually get on your nerves as you listen to them over and over again. The real problem is with the actual sound, however. Put simply, the cars don't sound like real cars. They sound more like what cars in racing games sounded like in the 16-bit days, with odd muffled engine noises that have an artificial pitch. The crash sounds and tire squeals are better, but they're still nothing to get excited about.
Yet the major drawback of Test Drive is the artificial intelligence. If you've never heard of rubber band AI, then a few minutes with Test Drive will have you immediately up to speed. Your opponents go as fast or as slow as you go. You can literally stop your car and watch the AI-driven vehicles slow to a crawl up ahead of you--it's that blatant. You can even be driving a Shelby Cobra, a car with one of the highest top speeds in the game, and have a much slower car blaze by you on a straightaway as if you were standing still, only to slow down once it's passed you. Rubber band AI exists so that players of all skill levels can feel like they had a good, close race. However, here it makes for more frustration than enjoyment. The computer-controlled racers are cheap, too. They'll try their best to knock you off the road or steer you into oncoming traffic, leaving you no choice but to do the same. This can be fun, admittedly, but not often. In one race, you can be doing great, making excellent time and not wrecking at all, while in another you'll be crashing into everything that moves and constantly getting busted by the cops. You could end up in first place in either of those races.
The Embarcadero is a great place for a night race.
The Xbox version of Test Drive has much better loading times than its PlayStation 2 counterpart. Both versions of the game make good use of the Atari branding and have a playable game of Pong available during the loading screens. Amusingly enough, it even supports two players if you have two controllers plugged in. For some reason, the game of Pong in the Xbox version of Test Drive runs in a smaller window than it does in the PS2 version, which makes it a bit harder to play.
If you can overlook the cheap AI, you'll probably enjoy Test Drive. It's true that Test Drive doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it is fun for a while and has plenty of cars and some good-looking tracks. It's short enough that it could be finished in a weekend, though the fun head-to-head mode adds some replay value if you have others to play with. All in all, it's worth checking out if you're a fan of arcade racing games.