Test Drive 2: The Duel logo

Price: £24.95

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?

Drive yourself round the bend at 200mph

Test Drive 2: The Duel logo Zzap! Sizzler

Accolade, C64 £9.95 cass, £16.95 disk; Amiga £24.95

The Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 are nothing less than the two fastest production road cars in the world. The Porsche was the first to hit the streets, the most technologically advanced supercar ever, with a l97mph top speed and a £145,000 price tag. The Ferrari, many feel, was built with the express purpose of proving Italian supremacy over the 959. Accordingly the F401s twin turbo, V-8 engine will rocket it to 200mph for a price of £160,000. But the difference between the two cars is more than that. While the Porsche is the height of refinement, the Ferrari has no carpets, plastic side windows and doors which are opened by pulling on a piece of string! If the Porsche is the world's most sophisticated supercar, the Ferrari is 'merely' a full-blooded racing machine made street-legal.

Test Drive II offers you the choice of these amazing dream machines. In fact, you can choose to race either against the clock or a computer-controlled 959 or F40.
Acceleration and braking are activated by moving the joystick forwards/backwards, gear changing is either automatic or via pressing fire depending on skill level. Of course, the steering is most important but the on-screen wheel only moves left and right when your steering is extreme otherwise a little blue dot on the wheel indicates sub tier steering movements.

If your steering is less than precise be prepared to meet an oncoming Ford at a 256mph - the roads are busy, so overtaking is hazardous. Smash into something and you lose one of five lives, as well as getting twenty seconds added onto race time. You can also lose a life by failing to stop at the gas station at the end of each level! If you do manage to slow down in time, the race statistics are shown, including average speed and overall time.

In-game info is provided by authentically styled dashboards, both with the addition of a radar detector to warn when police cars are about. You don't have to slow down, but the cops are fast and if they catch you a ticket adds seconds to your race time. Ram the cop and it's game over - this is America and the cops are tough!
If you get tired of the two included cars (Ferraris are so dull, aren't they?!) or even the scenery, extra car and scenery disks can be bought to expand the game. At first, using these involves much disk-swapping but a 'Play Disk' can be created by copying parts of the master and extra disks onto a blank disk. This eliminates most of the disk-shuffling.

C64 £8.99 disk; Amiga £11.95

This contains five of the sleekest fastest sports cars from around the world.
Porsche 911 RUF - Louis Ruf's custom-built, twin-turbo 911 has a top speed of 211mph.
Ferrari Testarossa - £90.000 to get to 60mph in 5.3 secs from a standing start.
'88 Lotus Esprit - Real thing a touch unreliable, but Bond used to drive one so it can't be bad.
'88 Lamborghini Countach 5000S - Its performance is as stunning as its looks. A V12 engine can shoot it to 179mph.
Corvette ZRI - Detroit's 'best kept secret' was designed to be the world's fastest production car, with a top speed of 185mph.

C64 £8.95 disk; Amiga £11.95

This scenery disk encompasses seven stages through California, from Oregon down to the border with Mexico. Along the way you'll see spectacular redwood forests, the Pacific Ocean, steep hills and the Golden Gate bridge.

Phil King On the Amiga the scenery moves smoothly and the other traffic is well-drawn. What really makes you feel like you're driving though, is the realistic noise of the engine; different for each car. If you're looking for a great driving game, then look no further.
The C64 version is less convincing, mainly due to oversensitive steering and the way oncoming traffic suddenly appears from nowhere. Most of the playability of the Amiga version is retained however, and the ability to expand both versions with add-on disks should prolong their appeal.
Paul Rand So it's basically along the same lines as its predecessor, and it could do with a few of its raggedy edges clipped, but Test Drive II on the Amiga is simply brilliant. The view from the windscreen, when beating a hasty path up one of the many twisting, winding roads, is particularly effective. Sadly, the outside objects, such as trees, do tend to go into spasms when travelling at low speeds, but then again this is a game where acceleration is not only a lot of fun, but a necessity, so less than 60mph is a rarity. So while it won't get you through your driving test, it will provide some superb entertainment.
The C64 game has been crammed onto one disk, and in terms of general gameplay, little has been lost in the transition from one computer to the other. But both colour and sound are bland, while oncoming vehicles lack detail and advance rather jerkily. Apart from those small gripes though, there is little actually wrong with the 8-bit version which stands up as an impressive piece of programming.
Robin Hogg The addition of a computer-controlled competitor adds a whole new element to the Test Drive format which really urges you on to take risks overtaking, running from the police and going into corners on tight mountain roads way too fast. Yeah, the Amiga version may look better, but on both machines the road movement is sturdily done, although the only improvement graphically over the original game is the addition of some trees, tunnels and cacti. Personally I think it falls just short of being a Sizzler on the Amiga as well as the C64, but there's no denying that it is extremely playable, and the cars are great.