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Test Drive Unlimited 2 February 8, 2011

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Review

The Verdict on Test Drive Unlimited 2

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Test Drive Unlimited 2 expands on the traditional racing experience providing gamers with M.O.O.R.: Massively Open Online Racing; immersing drivers in a persistent online environment and revolutionizing multiplayer racing communities as players compete, team up, and share their achievements and creations online. Unlike any other driving game, TDU2 blends the open world experience with realistic vehicles and performance dynamics and for the first time, TDU2 features vehicle damage, weather effects, day and night cycles, and a brand new island to explore.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is an arcade racer at it’s core of mechanics.  With the inclusion of many immersing RPG features, sandbox elements, and multiplayer offerings that aren’t normally associated with a racing game.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 delivers immensely in the content department.  As advertised, the game is “Massively Open Online Racing Experience”, and this couldn’t be more true. As you are progressing through the game, earning experience, licenses, and cars, you also have 1000’s of other people competing in your world.  These people are looking for challenges, or just doing the same as you, and progressing through their single player experience.  And with the term thrown around quite a bit after Gran Turismo 5, TDU2 definitely falls into that category of CARPG, if not RPG.  There are so many customizable option in TDU2.  Since you have an avatar which you select at the very cheesy opening of the game, you can customize this avatar with clothing and other options that you can purchase as you earn money from any of the various activities on Ibiza.  Aside from the purchasing of clothes, you can speak with real estate agents, customize your vehicles, customize you home, and customize just about every aspect of TDU2.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is not a linear game.  There is a very neat leveling structure put in place to assure that you get the most out of the game.  With four categories to earn XP: Social, Discovery, Competition, and Collection, the game constantly has you doing new things.  Hardly a boring experience, if just for the sheer fact that the game makes you want to challenge that guy that just sped past you and knocked you off the road if just for the chance at leveling up.   And this is where the Sandbox elements of the game really come into play.  You can take off to explore the island in all it’s beauty, and just search for wrecked vehicles which will net XP.  Or you can just focus obtaining licenses and grinding through the ranks that way.  But there always seems to be some type of distraction in TDU2 to keep you occupied.

The way the gameplay of Test Drive Unlimited 2 is presented is great.  There’s really alot to wrap your head around in the game, but it all comes together quite nicely.  And the game is good at providing direction when needed via the onboard GPS system which coexists with your map, giving you both audio and visual cues.  Frequently people that you meet throughout the game’s single player portion will call you to attend an event.  And if you don’t have the required, car they’ll call you to remind you that you don’t, and send you coordinates to where you have to go to get one.  But more importantly it’s easy to navigate to these points.

The island is huge, and you will be doing the majority of your time driving from point A to B.  Some of the fun in getting there is meeting up with people from the community along the way, but Eden Games also makes getting there half the fun by incorporating a points system that is persistent at all times.  Stringing together jumps, near misses, and speed bonuses, will net you extra cash.  Here you can continue to press your luck in increments, but if you crash or hit something before locking in your reward, you lose all of the money you have earned.

The last two racers I played were Gran Turismo 5 and Need For Speed Hot Pursuit.  Frankly, trying to compare either of these two game’s graphics to TDU2 is a tall order.  While the island is nice looking at times, and there are some cool environmental effects, the overall graphics package is a little lackluster.  Car models, engine sounds, Car interiors, cut-scenes, there’s just so many areas where this game just gets completely outdone by it’s competitors when it comes down to how the game looks and sounds.  Like I said, there are some redeeming qualities in this department, such as the transitions from day to night or vice versa.   Overall, there are just too many other games that have been recently released in the genre that just plain look better.  It doesn’t take away from the fun of TDU2 one bit,  but the graphics certainly leave alot to be desired.

Also, I have to mention that there is an obscene amount of screen tearing in the game for the videophiles out there.  Noticeable in cutscenses as well as the standard driving perspectives it won’t take you but a moment or two into the game to see what I mean.

The actual car physics for TDU2 are poor. If the developer was trying for more simulated effect in TDU2, this game should be considered an utter fail.   It has a great feel for an arcade racer, but even then it would still have some major problems because of the line it tries to walk in being both.  Again, of the recent racers I have played this one probably feels the worst as far as pure racing controls and handling go.  It’s not all bad, there is a great sense of speed in the game when you are cruising down one of the island’s many freeways.  But, lack of usable in-car view really land this game squarely in the arcade category.  Which is a pretty big deal for me.  If a racer offers in car views, that’s what I want to play with.  Unfortunately there seems to be a big problem with the steering when shifting to in car view of TDU2.  Oversteering becomes quite frequent and just rounding a normal turn is an exercise in futility.  The game will force you to switch back first and foremost because of the controls.  Secondarily, it doesn’t look all that great either.

For a game that has so much to love in all of it’s features, they sure don’t make it hard to hate Test Drive Unlimited 2.  You are going to get multiple opportunities to hate this game.  From the moment the game starts, your senses will be accosted with poor graphics, bad hairstyles, bad voice overs,  and all of these other things that scream to your senses that this is indeed a mediocre game.  It just keeps hitting you in the face with crappiness, literally for hours, before you actually realise what the good parts about TDU2 are.  Cheesy opening sequence, followed by unbelievable voice acting, forcing you to sit through poorly rendered cut scenes, it’s truly enough to take the game out of your Xbox/PS3 within the first hour and call it wash.  Persevere my friends..Persevere.

Update 2-12-11<—– There have been reports of issues with TDU2 since launch, notable “game breaking bugs”, a permanent loading screen, and problems and issues with save files. Eden is apparently working to fix these currently —–> Status updates on the incoming patch from TDU2 team via Twitter.

If any game in recent memory makes the case for fun factor being the ultimate score to measure a game by, it’s Test Drive Unlimited 2.  There’s just so much to do in the game that is downright fun.  The racing is fun, if you go into it with an arcade mindset.  There’s definitely issues here with some parts of TDU2, but the good outweighs the bad by a landslide.  An engaging leveling system, an expansive world to explore, and limitless possibility to have fun by your lonesome or with friends via your network of choice, make this one of the funnest racers I have played in quite some time.

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