Test Drive Unlimited PC Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 8.9
Sound 8.6
Value 8.4
Developer: Atari
Review Date:
May 2007
John Sudukis
Classification: PG


Test Drive Unlimited

Test Drive Unlimited is the ultimate automotive experience for car and bike enthusiasts alike. Visit the most sophisticated car and bike dealers to purchase new vehicles or simply take them for a spin. Collect and trade rare performance parts and customise each vehicle to make it one-of-a-kind. Test Drive® Unlimited challenges players online to experience the most exotic and fastest vehicles on more than 1000 miles of diverse Hawaiian roads. Gamers win races, challenges, missions and tournaments to earn credits and purchase new cars, bikes, rare performance parts, clothes, apparel, homes and garages.

The PC game has been painstakingly adapted and configured to get the very best out of the latest cutting edge PC hardware, allowing it to be played in extremely high resolution with the incredible effects taking the visuals of Test Drive Unlimited to a stunning new level. No monthly subscription is required to play. An already highly successful closed beta test will be followed by an open beta in January 2007 with the aim of ensuring that the PC game is perfect in technical and gameplay terms.

Test Drive Unlimited returns and smashes the XBox 360 version out of the water that can only be considered the best Sims car game around which allows the player to not only race around almost real-world scenarios but also give the gamer the option of hiring and purchasing new cars and properties to live the ultimate lifestyle!


  • Test Drive Unlimited redefines the racing genre: over 1000 miles of tropical Hawaiian roadways, instant challenges launched with a flash of the headlights, online functionality allowing thousands of gamers to play and up to 8 to race against each other, and much more.

  • New Hardcore Mode: Available in free-ride and multiplayer challenges, simulation mode will expand the experience for players looking for ultra-realistic driving for both cars and bikes. For the cars, telemetric data shows the actual physics modelled on real life parameters (independent grip for each tyre, weight transfer with G-meter, suspension, etc). Adapted to steering wheels and the standard controller, the hardcore mode shows drivers exactly where they succeed and where they need to improve, pushing their driving skills and the vehicles to the very limits;

  • Online community: launching in January 2007, www.testdriveunlimited.com/community will play host to a global community of elite racers with Player of the Week section, Leaderboards, Hall of Fame showing top scores in real time, ability to load gamer profiles to compare scores, and more;

  • TrackIR support: Innovative TrackIR technology from NaturalPoint® delivers an unprecedented level of view control, allowing players to look all around the cockpit of their cars using natural head motions for a more immersive and realistic experience;

  • Seamless online connection: Unlimited new challenges, opponents and competitions;

  • Configured for steering wheels: the PC game will work with most existing wheels, and includes manual clutch management (3 pedals) and H shifter to let players get the very best out of the new Hardcore mode;

  • 90 licensed vehicles: Cars and bikes from exclusive manufacturers including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Saleen, Shelby, and Jaguar;

  • Realistic cars and bikes: Amazing render quality and unrivalled interior details including full car functions such as radio, electric windows, horn and more;

  • Personalisation: Upgrade each car or bike with options from the actual manufacturers’ catalogue. Players create unique characters, buy new homes and garages, and tune and upgrade vehicles with performance kits and new paint jobs;

  • Create challenges or races from more than 50 game rules and settings. Upload self-created challenges online to become part of the player community;

  • In-game communities: Players can create or join a club to talk, chat, trade, race or organize club-based competitions and tournaments;

  • Simplified match making and division based rankings make Test Drive Unlimited the most comprehensive and accessible online racing experience.

The game itself begins at an airport where the gamer is given a choice of picking one of the nameless characters. After you made your choice, your avatar reaches his or her destination of Oahu, a tropical Hawaiian paradise with impressive buildings as well as miles of beautiful green scenery that makes up the other of half of the island. Your first stop aside from a car rental place, is the offices of a real estate agent where you will get to purchase your home and then off to buy your first vehicle.

From the very start, Oahu is open for you to explore and believe me when I say that there is a lot to explore seeing as the game managed to cram as much of the place as possible into the map. You’ll be thankful for your GPS that is good at pointing out stores and other notable places like a dealership, detail shop and car rental lot. With this initial impression, the developers have truly created a unique spin to the world of racing with its almost real-life realism.

The racing challenges are composed of official trophy races to Speed challenges that have you racing through the map past some stationary radar detectors in order to attain the highest possible average speed. Then there’s Time Attack where you try to race to the finish line in the shortest time possible.

You’ll even encounter other racers just zipping through traffic, often slowing down when they reach you as if to taunt you into a quick race. You can drive up to a street racer and challenge them to a race where you decide where the race will start and where it will end on the map.

Test Drive Unlimited also features a variety of cars and even motorcycles such as the Dodge Viper SRT-10 or James Bond Aston Martin or for those that want a faster ride, the Ducati 999-R. With over 125 licensed vehicles, there is definitely a car or bike for you.

The gameplay of Test Drive Unlimited has been improved since the XBox 360 and all the cars drive differently with a rather apt control system. If you have a wheel, you will definitely be in gaming heaven with its realistic control system. If no, a mouse and keyboard will also work quite well. Even though Test Drive Unlimited looks like a driving simulation thanks to all its 90 licensed sports cars and realistic location, in reality, it’s a careful balance in between arcade and realism.

Graphically, Test Drive Unlimited borders between beautiful to somewhat lacking. Sure the game is about the hot cars that do look good and Oahu is just as beautiful in the game as it is in the real world but when it comes to displaying your avatar during cut scenes, the game just falls flat. In fact, the characters feel like they would feel right at home on the original Xbox and the same can be said about the lighting and smoke effects. However I must reiterate again that Oahu looks amazing!

The games sound is also something of a letdown since the car engines really start sounding the same no matter when car you’re driving. Car enthusiasts will find it hard to believe that a Ducati engine sounds exactly like the rumble of a Pontiac Firebird. Fortunately your car comes with a radio filled with different stations that play decent rock tunes and some from the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, reminiscent of the Grand Theft Auto series, except no shock jocks.

In conclusion, Test Drive Unlimited is certainly a better alternative to the Ridge Racer series if you’re looking for a game that blends offline and online play almost seamlessly. It’s hard to dislike a game that tries to bring something different to the table and succeeds in putting gamers into an open world filled with plenty to do and the freedom to take on any race at any time. If you’re a true racing fan or just a casual one you might want to seriously consider buying this game.



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