Test Drive Unlimited 2 Review

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Test Drive Unlimited 2

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While TDU2 isn't quite as polished as we hoped it would be, there's more than enough content on offer to keep us coming back for more.

We like

  • The social features and Community Racing Center will keep you coming back for more
  • There's a ton of activities to partake in, plus an addictive level-up system that offers enticing rewards
  • Great interface design makes it easy to keep tabs on everything

We dislike

  • The single-player narrative is shockingly bad
  • Lack of challenge from A.I. opponents
  • The cars can be clunky to drive, particularly around corners

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Not 100% content with making gaming's only Massively Open Online Racing game, developer Eden Games has also created a fully-fledged single-player mode for its latest venture, Test Drive Unlimited 2 (TDU2). And, whether you’re interested in a story-driven campaign or not, that’s where your TDU2 experience begins. The rag-to-riches story leads you on a journey from becoming a penniless valet shacked up in a grubby trailer, to the king of the road with a multi-million dollar lifestyle and an array of expensive cars stocked in your garage.

Things get off to a surreal start as the camera pans in on a rooftop gathering in an apartment on the sun-drenched island of Ibiza. In a scene reminiscent of a pool party in The Sims, good looking men complete with washboard stomachs and bikini clad ladies wave their arms in the air like robotic cardboard cut-outs. You then get to choose one of these lovely specimens as your character in the game. It turns out that your beautiful new play-thing is a valet who dreams of the riches enjoyed by his employer, Tess Wintory, the pampered host of a reality show based around car racing. Sadly, the closest you get to sampling this celebrity life-style is to drive Tess in her sexy red Ferrari V8 to the T.V. studios. Tess, impressed by your skills behind the wheel, kick starts your career as an up and coming racer. The sky’s now the limit as you compete in tournaments, earn cash and purchase new cars, homes and expensive new clobber.

Seeing your character’s lifestyle and riches steadily progress by gaining licenses and entering competitions is an addictive format, made all the more appealing by a multi-tiered level-up system that does well to encourage you to keep playing. Making your way to the top comes at a price, however. Not only do you have to listen to some of the worst voice-acting we’ve ever heard in a videogame, but you have to rub shoulders with a host of annoying characters, while sitting through reams of cheesy dialogue that had us grimacing with embarrassment. It's a bizarre narrative that will have limited appeal to anyone over the age of 16.

Things don't get much better either as you embark on your first objective: to drive Tess to the studio in her Ferrari V8. Though the Ferrari V8 handles extremely well, and the streets, surrounding countryside and waterfronts of this beautiful island are suitably impressive — though nowhere near GT5 standard — there’s little sign of life or atmosphere. The fact that there's hardly any traffic on the roads and no pedestrians whatsoever going about their daily business makes the area feel totally dead. We’ve heard a lot about the sheer scale of TDU2’s two areas of Ibiza and Oahu, but based on our first impressions we weren't particularly looking forward to exploring them any further.

After spending many hours with TDU2, however, it becomes abundantly clear that there's much more to it than first meets the eye. Indeed, the single-player campaign is just one small part of a colossal game that has so many different layers to it. Once you step into the persistent online world shortly after the introduction, the whole atmosphere changes as challenges unlock, you discover new areas and things to do and the streets start to fill with real people driving any one of over 90 cars that they’ve worked hard to buy. The single player-campaign becomes just another set of challenges that you can attempt in a sea of objectives and social interactions.

Ignoring the lame production values, the single-player mode is a decent way to make some easy cash as you rise up the ranks and prepare yourself for the real challenge of human opposition. You are constantly connected to this online world, so the island is brimming with life, but you can if you wish go about your business without dabbling in any of the social aspects of the game. There are hundreds of challenges and optional side-quests that earn you cash that allows you to build your empire, swell your collection of expensive cars and buy nice clothes and items for your home. There's lots to do to keep you busy as a solo player, but rarely does it feel ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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