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Test Drive Unlimited 2 PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 7.5
Graphics 7.0
Sound 9.0
Value 9.0
Distributor: Namco-Bandai
Review Date:
Feb 2011
Ash Pinch


Test Drive Unlimited 2

Over the past few months there have been heaps of videos released for Test Drive Unlimited 2 trying to build up hype, and it certainly worked on me as I have been looking forward to this game. The concept of a MMO for car fans is an intriguing idea that I had not experienced, since I never played the first Test Drive Unlimited. With no idea of what to expect and all the hype I was expecting big things. 

The story is a fairly generic and kind of nonsensical rags to riches story, where your character is basically invited to attend a race competition based on the fact that he falls asleep in a car while he is supposed to be working as valet.  Although this story is nothing ground breaking it gets the story going in a genre where story is generally irrelevant anyway.  

TDU 2 offers an open and expansive world. 

The presentation is passable; the menus feel very clunky and can really take the player out of the action.  When the player brings up the world map, which seems slow to load up, you must select what you want to show up on the map, then move the cursor around the map to select what you want to do.  This is very reminiscent of the world map screen present in Midnight Club: Los Angeles.  Overall, this system works and provides a slightly clunky way to select destinations on the map. 

Test Drive features a bizarre levelling system; it contains four categories to reach a total of 60 levels.  This is divided into four distinctions, competition, community, collection and discovery.  This system generally works well and encourages players who want to discover absolutely everything the game has to offer.  There are some strange and often frustrating rules for some of these.  An example of this is that to purchase items from a store your discovery level will need to be high enough, irrelevant of how much money you have. 

One aspect that struck me as strange was the level of customisation for the character and houses compared with that of the cars.  As a car game I would have thought that cars would be the priority, instead all you can do is change some paint and the rims, there is also some car tuning available, if your discovery level is high enough for the area.  This was a bit disappointing as with the concept of the MMO racer it would have been nice to drive and see other player’s creations in the world, as opposed to slightly different paint job and some stickers. 

The interiors are nice and detailed, driving in this view can feel jerky however. 

Now for the core of the game, the game play, and this unfortunately brings about the biggest problem with the game.  The cars feel as though they have no weight and the handling mechanic seems to switch from simple arcade driving to very difficult to control oversteer.  This can cause a great deal of frustration, and seems most evident when racing around tight corners, as the cars change instantly from severe understeer to violent oversteer at the drop of a hat.  This can be overcome with persistence, and dealing with regular frustrations, but even then will still rear its ugly head at inopportune moments. 

TDU2 breaks up some of the driving with some on foot sections; these are very basic and add nothing to the experience, other than to show some interiors and let you hop in out of the car.  The reasoning behind these sections makes sense but they feel very disjointed from the rest of the experience. 

The racing modes in TDU2 are pretty standard, there are some circuits, point-to-point, highest speed through a series of speed traps and also a mode where you get points the faster you drive.  This is the bulk of what TDU2 is all about; it is a competent racer but does nothing to break the mould.  The majority of the driving time will be spent driving freely around the map, this was highly enjoyable and it all began to feel like I wanted it to when I first started watching videos, there is a sense of freedom to flying down highways in TDU2 that is rare in gaming.  Taking license tests is tedious and the challenges tend to have such lenient time restraints that you can cruise around the course and still have plenty of time left. 

Visually the game is a little bit plain, but the scope of the world is excellent.  The scenery is bland for the majority of roads and shadowing and textures are all nothing spectacular.  The draw distance is excellent and there is landscape for as far as the eye can see.  The cars are modelled well, but again the shading and texturing is unremarkable.  The character modelling and animation leaves a lot to be desired, they are not bad enough to turn anyone away from the game but are just not up to the ever increasing standards, fortunately this is a car game and you see a lot more cars than people. 

TDU 2 features some nice models of the world’s premiere super cars.  

The cars sound incredible, driving around Ibiza and hearing the sound of the engine pumping away is awesome.  You will hear the engine so well because most likely the radio will not be on, if you do not like to play a game with no music you will want to work out something with your set-up, because you will be avoiding the radio.  There are only two stations and neither are good.  Fortunately the engines sound good enough that I have been happy enough driving around for hours at a time with no music. 

Despite this review seeming very negative, TDU2 is a game where the sum does not equal the parts.  The game is good, if you are looking for a different driving experience then this may be it, if you are willing to overlook some of the shortcomings you will become completely drawn into the world, you will want the best house, clothes and most importantly, car.  With the right mindset and a wanting to like and enjoy the journey of TDU2 you will.


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