The Test Drive franchise is one that has seen its fair share of different technologies over the decades, from the new format of a free-roaming HD console version released in 2006 all the way back to Accolade’s PC original released in 1987.
Anyone old enough will have fond memories of PC-speaker powered “drrrrrrrr” engine noises as you tore down the freeway in a brand new Ferrari or Lamborghini, the hottest new cars on the market at that time, or as we now call them, classics.
As a massive fan of the previous Test Drive Unlimited and its celebration of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, I put my driving gloves on, sipped a Martini and laughed at some poor person to get into the right mood to bring you this full review.
Driving down a one-way
The Test Drive series, while older, was one that stood in the shadow of the Need for Speed series ever since it was released to the world in 1994. For around 15 years, Test Drive was never able to get itself ahead of EA’s powerhouse.
This all changed in 2006 when Eden and Atari Games changed up the formula, unveiling Test Drive Unlimited as an open-world M.O.O.R (Massively Open Online Racing) game that focused more on the complete lifestyle associated with owning and driving such incredible vehicles and was set on the the near 1600 kilometers of road on the Hawaii island of O’ahu.
It’s now 2011 and Eden Games have released Test Drive Unlimited 2, boasting new and exciting additions to the game to get the fans back for more. The game now begins on the famous party island of Ibiza and also includes dirt roads for off-road racing, making the total length of drivable road rise to a staggering 3000 kilometers overall (O’ahu is only available after level 10). The game has also been given full day/night cycles as well as full dynamic weather and cosmetic car damage.
While the ability to drive SUV’s off-road is a welcome addition it also arrives alongside the decision from Eden Games to remove motorcycles from the equation completely. I have always personally been a car nut and never really saw the appeal of motorbikes, however, Test Drive Unlimited (1) gave me open roads and nimble little bikes that could outperform most of the supercars and the appeal became pretty apparent, pretty quick. Motorcycles should be added in as DLC at a later stage, but the omission of pocket-rockets from the standard release definitely doesn’t work in its favour.
Just as in the first game, you will be utilising a GPS a lot of the time to get you from point A to point B and the map system has remained largely the same overall.
From Zero to Hero in 3.7 seconds
The story in Test Drive Unlimited 2 is pretty horrendous. You begin the game as a valet parking attendant who fancies himself as quite the driver, spending most of his days dreaming of the high life. Fate happens to land him the opportunity to compete in an immensely popular televised race series alongside a bunch of self-loving, hot headed trust-fund babies. It’s all very cheesy, badly voiced and feels like it doesn’t even hold a candle to the tales found in adult films.
Thankfully you don’t have to spend too much time thinking about the story, but can rather get straight into the thick of things. In TDU 2 you are required to attend racing schools in order to earn your license for a specific class of race. Once you have your license, you also require a car from that class which you can purchase either at the official dealers or from a warehouse. You can then enter the available race series for that class, which are usually comprised of a mixture of races, time trials, speed trap challenges, elimination races and so on. As you progress and , level up and win series you are given access to higher classes race schools and their associated series.
The addition of weather and day/night can have a pretty large effect on the game, and you might find yourself in a few situations where you need to return to a specific race or challenge at a different time of day as it goes without saying that a tight off-road time trial running through a wild area is going to be significantly darker in pitch-black darkness during the middle of a thunderstorm.
The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Leveling up in Test Drive Unlimited 2 is not restricted to racing and Eden Games brings the player back to the original concept of living the lifestyle of sportscar drivers by allowing you to do more than just simply compete in races.
You earn experience points in four different ways: Competing in races and events, Social interactions like making friends or being a part of clubs etc, discovering new locations as well as finding hidden car wrecks and taking photos of specific listed areas and then finally , through collecting everything in the game by buying clothes, new houses and so on. Your level is capped at 60, although those with the Casino DLC are given access to an additional 10 levels that can be gained in the casinos themselves.
On top of experience, you also need to earn money to buy all of the wonderful goodies in the game. Money is earned in events, as well as completing challenges and can even be earned on the fly using a new in-game system that rewards you for close calls, drifting, high speeds and so on (watch out for the cops though). You will need to earn enough money to buy the cars necessary for your new races classes as well as new pads with bigger garages so that you can own more cars.
Last Updated: February 28, 2011