Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Drive Unlimited 2 (from here on abbreviated to TDU2, to save wear and tear on my keyboard) is a big, open-world racing game. At least, that is what it is billed as. From the opening of the game, you might find yourself thinking otherwise.

The game opens with a group of hideous blank-faced mannequin-people dancing by a swimming pool in front of deafeningly loud dance music being played by some pretentious DJ. You then choose which one of them you want to be – while they dance in slow motion. I wish I was making this up. You then walk around in a first person mode which rather disturbingly reminded me of the PS3’s (rather creepy) Home. Fortunately, this bit doesn’t last long, and after the most tenuous (and pointless) bit of story-telling told in a game for some time (it involves a dream sequence!) – you find yourself in a car, signed up to a racing league.

The lady who signs you up to the driving league is a horrible cliché. In fact, every character in the game is as flat and cardboard as a piece of flat cardboard, as likeable as Hitler, and they all have voices that made me want to rip off my ears to avoid having to listen to the (often repeated) snippets of “dialogue”. The graphics in the town I started in were not dreadful, but everything was a little boxy, sharp-edged and lacking in detail.

Of course, reviewing a racing game based on the characters and the voice acting is a bit like reviewing a porn film on the acting. So, to the meat (and two veg) of the experience – the driving. TDU2 has an unusual feel to its driving. It feels a little bit like in trying to compromise between being a flat out Burnout style arcade racer and a GT5 style simulation, they’ve ended up a little in the middle. Sometimes you can fling a car into a corner wildly and get away with it, and other times you’ll lose the back end on a tiny bend. I didn’t like it at first, but after several hours of play, it did grow on me. It’s challenging enough to keep you concentrating, but without you feeling like you need to be a real life F1 driver to win a race.

The game features the usual formula for racing games: buy a car, win some races, upgrade or buy another car, win more races, etc. There are a huge variety of races over a number of classes – A class (asphalt, road racing), B class (off-road racing) and C class (classics). There are driving schools, eliminator rounds (last place is eliminated each lap), flat out checkpoint races, lap races, one on one challenges, time trials, speed camera challenges (best average speed through a number of cameras) and lots more. Put bluntly, there are a boat-load of different challenges to partake in, and a shed-load of cars to drive in them.

Of course, you didn’t buy a driving game just to drive, did you? The game also features a whole load of collection challenges, from finding old wrecked cars around the islands to locating viewpoints and photographing them. You even have to find car dealerships and tuning shops. Don’t like the look of your character? Take him or her to the hairdressers, cosmetic clinic (seriously) or one of the clothes shops. Car dirty? Get it washed in a bikini carwash by sexy ladies to saucy music. As an aside, the developers appear to pay no heed to the sex of your chosen character (mine was a lady), leading to humorously lesbian moments like said carwash, or dropping off a lady passenger on a side-mission who called me “adorable” and blew a kiss at me.

Although I was disappointed by the graphics at first, I found that once you get out into the countryside, they really come into their own, with lovely sea view vistas at almost every turn, and it really is a treat to be driving around these lovely islands. The sound too, is fantastic, with my rear surround speakers pumping out meaty engine noises in the rear-engined cars.

There is a large multiplayer element to the game, with competitive races and co-operative objectives all present and correct. In fact, as you free-drive around the city, you can pass other online players, flash your lights at them and challenge them there and then. Unfortunately, I only saw this once in the few days I was playing as the servers were actually only working once. I’ll put that down to teething problems which I’m sure will be fixed, but it does mean I can’t give a detailed review of the multiplayer elements.







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