When Test Drive first introduced everyone to life in the fast lane some fourteen months ago (about the same time the original Crazy Cars appeared coincidentally) people started to sit up and take notice. The future of gaming, nice graphics, lovely touches and finishing pointed to a day when all games would be this polished.
Test Drive had one major failing - it left out any long term appeal. Its gameplay was limited to trying to keep the car on the road and in one piece for as long as possible. Its sequel does not look to have improved this much.
Accolade have updated the cars you drive in The Duel. You can now climb behind the wheel of a Ferrari F40 and a Porsche 959 instead of a Testarossa or a 911. Originally, you could chose from five cars, but if you want any more this time you will have to shell out for the Supercars package which contains the likes of the original two cars, plus a Lamborghini Countach, a Corvette and a Lotus Turbo Esprit. It is pretty academic because you cannot possibly tell from acceleration, handling, top speed, gearing, and roadholding what you are driving. The only real value is the sense of fascination you had when you read those trading cards with cars, or jet fighters on them. Nice enough, but it does not exactly make it an essential purchase.
The gameplay has been augmented by the inclusion of an option to race against a computer car. This adds to the enjoyment, but the competition is not that riveting. If you leave the car behind in a fog of leaded exhaust fumes, or lose out and watch it disappear into the distance, you are back on your own.
The other cars do not offer much of a challenge so, as before, you simply have to make sure you overtake them cleanly and safely. Staying on the road at high speed is hard enough, and the limited angle of view you have through the window makes this harder.
What goes on outside your car is not going to make your old copy redundant either. The landscape has changed only slightly. You still have to negotiate the Californian mountain roads and the foothills. IF you want more, wait for it, there is a Scenery Disk which you can purchase with some more nice views of... California. Both this and the Supercars package cost £11.95 each. It might have been more appealing if they would have included European routes but I guess they are just too blessed out with the West Coast.
The rest of the graphics are adequate, the crash effect has changed little, though you do get a falling sensation if you come off the cliff. You still get the nice gas station stills each time you finish a stretch, but it would have been nice to see some random Cinemaware style pictures - a motorcycle cop booking you, a mangled wreck, a weirdo hitchhiker, a diner - the possibilities are endless, but alas untapped. Which is why Test Drive II won't appeal to the people who brought it originally and not so many others either.
Essentially, The Duel is a reworking of the original game, tidied up and updated, but with many of the same limitations. And what the hell happened to the XR3 option?