Test Drive Unlimited 2 is the tenth instalment from the Test Drive franchise which originally began its run in 1987. Test Drive Unlimited (1) showed great progress ultimately with the theme of open world racing and Eden Games have implemented this information into the new foundations of TDU2 giving this title a slightly better structure and feel compared to its predecessor.
TDU2 generally follows the first titles direction of racing around streets you can openly drive around but has intertwined MMO styled features to try to create more of an expansive angle or view to the game. It’s still set in the same places (Ibiza and Oahu) like the first title but with the benefit of the maps being crafted from accurate satellite data and there’s on and off road routes to race around in the many different classes of vehicles TDU2 has to offer. Last but not least those online features that were in the last title are back, bringing with it more online challenges, better club houses and more of that open online race world that the first title was appraised for.
They’re some CG scenes throughout the game to help introduce and make sense of the new MMO features but the scenes themselves seem staged and the characters come across more like puppets than people but they’re normally short snappy keeping you just up to speed with what’s necessary. Tess is one of the first people you meet at your birthday party which is where the game begins and, just by chance, she has a gift for you in the garage. When you arrive there’s a shiny new Ferrari just for you… You can walk around your new wheels and interact with any vehicle in your garage with the D-pad; your options pop up on the left hand side of the screen as logos, indicating the action you can use. TDU2 has a more than fair amount of customization built into it but these interactions with vehicles become enjoyable rather than just becoming “something to do on the side”.
When you decide to take a spin in your new dream car the game will run you through the HUD and some basic details to do with the D-pad and compass after that the fun sharp ends when you slam back into reality and you’re actually just some chauffeur that’s managed to infuriate your clients father by “borrowing” that lovely Ferrari. Safe to say Tess isn’t too pleased either but sees the light and gives you a chance to prove yourself as her new race driver as her last didn’t fair too well anyway, after this you will purchase your first vehicle to race in. You will have to choose from a small selection of second hand vehicles, you can get a hold of some good favourites this way but it will be dreadfully slow to begin with until you earn enough cash for upgrades or a new vehicle. TDU2 does provide Driving Aids; Full Assistance, Sport or Hardcore but as the game is balanced very well in-between racing simulator and arcade experience the driving aids themselves don’t make a great deal of difference to the overall experience they just may help you in the beginning of the game to get used to the style and control TDU2 has to offer.
Before you can participate in Championships you must obtain the driving license that corresponds with that championship’s category, these are scattered throughout the islands. When you decide to acquire a license you will need to complete that licenses objectives, the objectives will explain what you need to do in that certain test when you highlight it with your curser and what the driving conditions will be. After acquiring that license you are now able to take part in the corresponding championship, also after completing the first blue colored championship you will unlock another golden one to complete which will help you earn more cash with the same vehicle.
You’re first pad isn’t too fancy either but you can change some of your Caravans features by going to the laptop placed on the desk, there is one of these in every apartment you buy and you can change the furniture or photos on display here in the MyTDUHouse menu. You can also check out your overall progression, take a photo of your avatar and change logos in the MyTDULife menu and scout over your photos and leaderboards. While you’re taking a quick breather in your gaff you can change your clothes with the walk in closet feature and create a new you to go with that new car you bought. Garages, houses, shops and club houses are free roam areas allowing you to interact in a basic way with the character or items in front of you, the game does seem to flat plain slightly in these moments creating neither a solid positive nor negative to the MMO side of the game but are a small break away from the adrenaline.
TDU2’s leveling up structure takes these side objectives and the actual game progress and incorporates it into several different targets to concentrate on in game, Competition, Discovery, Collection, Social and Global Level. These different targets enables you to keep track of your progress with ease and get small rewards at the same time for things like; covering all the roads or collecting the scrap vehicles hidden around the maps. These separate scores are also totaled up it to give you your Global Level score, however they are still small for the amount of effort needed to cover all these areas of the game and can easily slow the games pace down by changing the balance in-between good flat out racing and those MMO features. These loose connections or seemingly dead ends between the two sides of the game means it’s sometimes a plus and then a negative again and gives neither side of the game something truly special to place, secure and show all of the great features and previous endeavors TDU2 has to offer but does a damn good job of trying anyway.
When you get halfway through completing the first island you’ll notice all TDU2’s greatest elements and features and how they come together with the MMO styled play alongside, this mix creates opportunities to take constructive breaks whenever you like which means driving over miles and miles of road can be broken up so it becomes less mundane. This pattern arises a lot on TDU2 once you get submerged into it and can have you not wasting but enjoying hours of game time and with TDU2s huge online feast will have you doing the same only just with friends. They’re several different types of races to be had like Time Attack, Race, Eliminators, Speedtrap, Speed and many more which will keep most racers happy but if you want an extra buzz these types of races can also be found online too with some additions for club orientated races like Keep your distance and follow the leader.
Club Houses are one of TDU2’s authentic and immersive online features, it also has a bundle of customization and upgrades enjoy alongside the races, challenges and general banter. When you create a Club House it will initially set you back 50k, it’s not a lot in game but the upgrade price for the next stage of Club House is in the millions mark, so be prepared to get your members donating at the Office desk. You can choose a club name, logo, nationality, entry level, favorite brand and even a club description to help you recruit members and as the creator of the Club House you get full control and rights to all privileges and hierarchy decisions, you can issue out four other titles to your members for when you are not online or just to keep the rabble happy. There’s a Bar to set up races and challenges and the Billboard to keep track of the clubs statistics, ranking and history basically setting up an easy to use system for you and friends with a nice custom finish.
TDU2’s mix of race and MMO features and ultimately pliable controls and physics means it easily hits the benchmark for a great quality racing title and creates a large amount of accessibility to help bring everyone in. It’s structured well for the different classes, licenses and time you will be spending, meaning the game continue to open up as you play but it also helps filter through opponents to help to connect with players closer to your skill level and style of play. TDU2 offers a solid range of cars from many known dealers and the customization for vehicles will keep fiddlers happy and keep the creativity going, sounds effects for the vehicles are nothing but a pleasure to listen to and the radio stations aren’t too intolerable eventually either. TDU2 is a more than acceptable sequel to the first title and expands on the features that where popular before, the game also looks crisp and as colorful as ever but with a few improvements. The game does look better than good but there’s nothing majorly eye catching about TDU2s graphics apart from the higher priced vehicles and the occasional sunset will have you taking the odd photo. TDU2 doesn’t provide much of a reward for hardcore racers and is an issue but overall TDU2 is a great game for new comers and steady racing fans who fancy testing each other’s skills online.