Good news! Test Drive Unlimited 2 is now available for the PC/PS3/XBOX360 platforms and you can find it at your local retail store for $50.
I managed to grab an early copy (legal) of the game and I spent a couple of hours in single player mode. First of all, the island is huge and very well thought – combining both city and rural roads. What I have been missing most from driving games is the transition between night and day. There are a couple of games that have this feature but Atari did one hell of a job on TDU2 with this effect. I shouldn’t even call it an effect because the transition is very natural, like in real life.
TDU2 has also a whole bunch of other features that make it stand out from the rest of the crowd, like the possibility to buy clothing, properties as well as other accouterments of a luxurious international lifestyle – think Grand Theft Auto.
It has just about every car you’d ever wanted, here are a few examples: Pagani Zonda, Ferrari California, Nissan GT-R, Ford Mustang Fastback, Spyker C12 Zagato, Aston Martin One-77, McLaren MP4-12C and my personal favorite, the exquisite Lotus Evora.
Another thing that I like about Test Drive Unlimited 2 is that all the cars have an interior view and the cockpits are pretty good, not as good as in Gran Turismo 5 or Forza 3, but can’t complain. They look very nice during the night, something that you won’t in Forza 3 and only a few tracks in GT5 have night mode.
From what I’ve played, the career seems to be pretty long and it was a nice surprise to see that they managed to blend on-road races with off-road ones.
Moving on to what I don’t like. First of all, the conversations between the characters in the game are borderline embarrassing. Second, if you haven’t played many arcade racing games before; it will be quite difficult for you to control the cars. In addition, sometimes they behave rather unusual and can get a little bit annoying, but give it time and you’ll get the hang of it.
I’ve noticed that it has only two radio stations, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Although I can’t complain with the lack of other stations, I do believe that they should have added more tracks as pretty soon they can become repetitive. I still can’t understand why video game developers don’t introduce a feature that allows you to copy MP3s to the HDD of the XBOX360/PS3 so that you can listen to your favorite songs while playing the games. I am not a video game developer, but I don’t think that this is a hard thing to do – again, correct me if I’m wrong.
Another feature of the game is gaining XP points in the Social, Discovery, Competition and Collection categories by doing related activities, like making a community challenge – Social, finishing photography assignments – Discovery, beating other races in competitions – Competition, purchasing houses – Collection, and a lot more. These four categories make up your overall rank in the game.
Although these categories are separated, they actually feed into each other. To give you a relevant example, if you drive around and find new roads and manufacturer-specific upgrade shops, you’ll earn Discovery points. By exploring the vast island you will find various showrooms that may be necessary to compete in a race as well as further your burgeoning car collection for the Collection category.
I haven’t tried out the online gameplay due to lack of time, but taking into consideration that the game has plenty to offer even in single player mode, online it should be even more impressive.
Despite of all these flaws, the game is pretty good and it’s most important asset is the beautiful and complex island, complemented by the day/night transition I’ve mentioned before. I think that the control of the cars could have been better – maybe, with a steering wheel it is more pleasurable.
Although it was launched in October, 2007, GRID remains my favorite racing game of all times, the level of realism is just amazing. I’m eager to play DIRT 3 (which from what I’ve heard will be the last game from the franchise) and Forza 4. As far as Shift 2 is concerned, I hope that it will be the simulator that the first one should have been in the first place.
In a world dominated by the Need For Speed games that keep coming out year after year (like CODs), it is good to have something else to play. If you’ve played the first part of the game, TDU2 follows the same recipe, but improves it here and there.