Test Drive Unlimited 2 | Zombiegamer review

Developer: Eden Games
Publisher: Atari
For fans of: The original, racing, pretty cars.
Reviewed on:Xbox 360
Also available on: PlayStation 3, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7.5/10

In short:

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is a mixed bag offering which combines racing, some rpg elements and social tasks in an MMO open world setting. It is for the most part a fun racer that stands on its own unlike the rest of the pack and delivers an ambitious, fun package in a massive world to explore. Test Drive Unlimited 2’s biggest downfall is that it’s clearly not a mega-budget title so the lack of refinement shows in many aspects. It is not an arcade racer, but its not a sim either. So while it may not handle like a cartoon character’s car, the dynamics are watered down in comparison to true sims.

What I liked

  • Variety
  • Good online features
  • Huge world
  • Impressive choice of cars
  • Handbrake turns
  • Cars look amazing in cut-scenes
  • Lasting appeal
  • Unique

Not so much

  • Needs a patch for this and that
  • Can’t invert the camera when outside the car
  • Can’t skip the major cut-scenes
  • Horrid user interface
  • Terrible dialogue
  • Only two radio stations available, so really weak soundtrack for such a long game
  • Obnoxious storyline

Overview

The Test Drive series was originally produced to allow gamers to test drive some of the world’s greatest cars. With Unlimited the aim was to become the world’s first MMO racing game. Enter Test Drive Unlimited 2 and you get the combination of just that in a world that should keep you busy for a long, long time. Test Drive Unlimited 2 also has a sense of humour thanks to terrible dialogue and voice-acting. A racing game that actually tries and deliver something like a storyline which most petrol-heads couldn’t be bothered with. We just want to buy or unlock more cars, tarmac and girls.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 features your starting point, Ibiza and the Hawaiian island of Oahu for you explore which spans across 600 square miles of coastal roads and rocky mountains to do drive where ever you want, and I do mean where ever you want. You could be forgiven for thinking you are in a Sims game with the bizarre storyline and the interaction with the game’s characters. You are a valet with a ‘petrolheads’ soul, so you dream of cars and speed. After getting fired you are offered you a place in the local Ibiza racing circuit which hosts races and more. So you get gifted your first car, real estate [a caravan] and off you go.

Gameplay and Features

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is very complete in both singleplayer and as an online racer [pending patch] with strong social characteristics and variation. You can race in a span of customized races, co-op online through a few modes or just go online for racing around the Isle. Then there is the obligatory chase mode and some taxi’ing around as is the case with most games involving cars. Your earning of experience points works similar to that of a traditional massively multiplayer online role-player title, with the categories of achievements being collection, social, discovery and competition. The categories have their own challenges all with the aim of helping you build up your garage, real estate and social stature.

The online modes did not work very well for me and badly needs a patch. From the spec I know, players being able to join clubs and communally challenge for rep by competing against other teams. As you drive around the world, you’ll see other players driving around too so you can challenge them to a race or co-op missions with them. You can create your own race as you desire by customizing it, put a stake on the race and compete for the loot… on or off the road. The on/ off-road variation is well done and allows you to explore the different types of vehicles which suit the different conditions.

The handling and physics of the vehicles are pretty strange at first. It’s neither arcade nor sim, so it did take some adjustment for me, but was smooth sailing once I did. I would say the handling leans towards sim, but the physics aren’t hardcore sim but very basically put together. The handling actually suites the game, if it were hardcore sim – it would be a mission to get across so much road. Then if it were arcade you would spend most your time against barriers and trees.

Graphics and Sound

Test Drive Unlimited 2’s world is vast and beautiful, favouring those that are keen to explore. As is it almost expected with such a huge game world, some texture and pop up issues were noticeable. The graphics and effects were generally very good and a pleasure to drive through. The cars look good enough but not quite like the big-name racers out there. Where TDU2 falls short is in the finer detail in the graphics, cars etc. The graphics are clean and neat, but there is a lack of real detail and texture that separates this one from the big guns.

The sound is generally good with the cars and sound effects, but again lacks refinement. The cars sound good, not spot on to the real-life counterpart, but pleasing. The let down is that the is clearly some copying and pasting of sound effects. When off road you will notice that no matter if you are on sand or grass, the sound is annoyingly the same. I went off-road onto the grass and thought the sfx were pretty good, then when I was back on sand it still sounded like I was mowing long grass.

I would really expect a good soundtrack for a game that would consume so much of my time, unfortunately there are two radio stations, none to my taste.

Conclusion

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is a great concept and the varied gameplay makes for a somewhat worthwhile experience despite its shortcomings. There is a definite lack of refinement, a large pinch of annoying dialogue but the gameplay shines through and after [quite] a few hours I found myself enjoying the experience.

Zombiegamer rating:

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