Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Test Drive III: The Passion

View of the California coast

Test Drive III: The Passion  is a driving game released by Accolade in 1990.  It's a sequel to of 1989's  Test Drive II: The Duel and it generally follows the standard Test Drive formula of driving exotic cars and fleeing from the police, except instead of 2D sprites the action in TD3 now takes place in a fully 3D world.

The game was a HUGE step forward in open world game design, with trains and traffic that followed realistic patterns, realistic weather effects and even hidden areas that waiting to be discovered. In TD3 it was now possible to choose from multiple routes and even race offroad.  The only game that came close to offering similar experience was Spectrum Holobyte's primative Vette.

Unfortunately the game is also very difficult to control, which might be explained by the fact that Test Drive III was developed in-house at Accolade instead of by Distinctive Software like the previous games.

Here's a scan of Computer Gaming World's review:

An add-on disk called Road & Car was also released that included a Cape Cod to Niagara course and two new cars.  Here's the CGW review:

Box scans. (courtesy Mobygames)

To play Test Drive III you'll need the DOSBox DOS emulator and the original game files which can be found here at Abandonia or here at EmuParadise. 

Also here are several exclusive files:

Download the original manual

Download the Road & Car add-on disk

Mount the game in DOSBox by typing MOUNT C C:\OLDGAMES\TESTDRIVE3(the blue part should be the path to wherever you put the game folder on your HD) and then type C: to move to the folder you just mounted.  Be sure to first run SETUP.EXE inside DOSbox, setting video to VGA/MCGA and sound to SoundBlaster/Adlib, and then run the game by typing TD3

If you want to play with the add-on disk you should also mount it in DOSBox as an A drive by typing MOUNT A C:\OLDGAMES\ROAD&CAR (or wherever you put the add-on disk folder on your HD) and then select the A: drive in the game's track setup screen.   

The optimal DOSBox setting seems to be about 3500 cycles.  

This video shows a full playthrough of Road & Car from Cape Cod to Niagara Falls  

Here's a view from the dashboard:

The game is pretty simple to play.  Just use the keyboard arrow keys to steer/accelerate and hit W for windshield wipers and M to change the music.

Here's a map of the game's first area, showing shortcuts and alternate routes:

While being fun in short bursts Test Drive III is a tough game to love even for a DOS geek.  It pioneered the concept of a go-anywhere sandbox inside a living game world, but this world is so crudely represented that it can hurt the eyes.  Also the steering control, seemingly designed for antiquated digital joysticks is amazingly awful for a driving game.

On the plus side the music is catchy and sounds great when played through a Roland card, and the game is bug-free and much more playable than previous similar open-world drivers like Vette.

The DOS Scholar gives Test Drive III: The Passion two and-a-half out of four golden floppies.

1 comment:

  1. Could you please re-upload the game manual? I've been looking for it for ages. Thank you.