Developer Eden Games is making another run for your money with the MMO-racer Test Drive Unlimited 2. Will it be a worthy installment in the Test Drive series?
At the beginning of the current console generation, Test Drive Unlimited was able to make its mark through an online experience that would only later be trumped in the car driving genre by Burnout Paradise. Now, developer Eden Games is making another run for your money with Test Drive Unlimited 2. Will it be a worthy installment in the Test Drive series?
With a thousand miles of open roads and over a hundred vehicles, it's no surprise that the original game made a splash in the online racing world. However, the title did not come without shortcomings, as its aimlessness, lack of any substance and graphical hiccups ultimately ruined the experience for some.
Luckily, improvements in the game engine have resulted in better graphics, smoother animations, and a new dynamic weather system. In Test Drive Unlimited 2's predecessor, the game would choke trying to render textures and it would get even worse at high speeds, but that does not happen any longer. Instead, general stability in the engine results in smoother animations and a more enjoyable experience. However, what steals the graphics show is the weather, which envelops players in a beautiful environment that cycles between day and night.
Players begin their journey in the same way that they did in the first game, choosing and customizing a character model that will be followed throughout the story. The campaign is not complex or thought-provoking and feels like a bit tacked on, but what do you expect; it's a racing game.
In Test Drive Unlimited 2, the campaign is completely based online, where players are tasked with completing errands around the Mediterranean island of Ibiza to build up the cash to buy exotic rides. Essentially, what TDU2 is trying to accomplish is making you feel like you're living a luxurious life, giving you the ability to purchase homes and clothes to showcase to other players. This is a significant part of TDU2's gameplay mechanics, as it is a hybrid between massively-multiplayer online games and a traditional driving title.
When multiplayer is brought into the equation, things get a little bit crazy. At the beginning of any online game, all of the cars are lined up at the start of the track and players can walk around envying the cars of other players. You can even hop into your competition's car and scope out the interior. There are a good number of online modes that keep gameplay varied, including many unique ones such as "Follow the Leader," where only one can can see the end objective and all other cars must follow.
Players are constantly connected in the Test Drive Unlimited 2's ecosystem. However, many events are understandably "instanced," meaning that you will be completing missions that cannon be interrupted by other players, but when you are not engaged in an activity you are will see other players roaming the island.
An added feature that fans of Test Drive Unlimited 2's predecessor is the Ibiza Airport, which will allow players to fly to Hawaii and play in a graphically revamped version of TDU's original setting.
Despite the fact that the gameplay is fun, the character models are eerily lifeless and the environment is scarce, having no pedestrians. There are also a number animation quirks on characters, but the snazzy cars make up for it.
Test Drive Unlimited 2 is set to hit stores on February 8, 2011, releasing on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Motorbikes will return as downloadable content after a few months, but off-road racing is included from the start.
The game's predecessor was one that you loved despite its many faults, and hopefully Eden can manage to have their community features up and running at launch. Living the life of an extremely wealthy street racer on a beautiful island is the reason why games exist, and the exploration of bigger worlds and the creation of smarter online features will no doubt make Test Drive Unlimited 2 a game to watch for.
What do you, fellow gamers, think? Is Test Drive Unlimited 2 destined for your console of choice or will you pass it up? Let us know in the comments below.