Test Drive Unlimited 2
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 6

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is one of those games that start off great but the longer you play it the more the faults become apparent. There are plenty of challenges and races but in the end you are just repeating the same things over and over. The online aspect is nice and overall the game is good but it is certainly not going to appeal to everyone.

Gameplay: A huge gameworld with plenty to see and do but very repetitive.

Graphics: Lots of rough edges but the scale is admirable.

Sound: Terrible radio stations and annoying voice overs

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Test Drive Unlimited 2

Developer: Eden Studios | Publisher: Atari | Release Date: 2011 | Genre: Racing | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Despite its faults and flaws I quite enjoyed the original Test Drive Unlimited. It might have lacked polish but it more than made up for all the rough edges with sheer ambition. Test Drive Unlimited 2 follows very closely in the footsteps (or should that be tire treads?) of its predecessor but unfortunately once again falls short of greatness.

While the island of Oahu makes a return, you initially start off on Ibiza as a lowly car valet who daydreams about racing all the exotic cars entrusted to you. As luck would have it your characters gets drafted into the “Solar Crown” which is a racing competition, shortly after being fired. While it’s not much of a story it at least provides you with a good excuse for racing around the islands.

Like the first game, the emphasis is very much on the social and multi-player aspect of the game. As you drive around the island in free roam mode you’ll encounter other races from around the world that can be challenged with a flash of your headlights. You can even set up and join racing clubs for exclusive cars and events. While setting up custom challenges and taking part in online chase modes can be fun, players who prefer a more solitary experience are catered for as well. While driving through the open world you’ll encounter plenty of races, cups and challenges to take part in. The payoff is money which can then be used to buy new cars, houses, clothes, furniture and haircuts. The wealth of customization options for your avatar returns but this time you can at least modify your vehicle’s appearance with some stickers.

A new addition is the licenses for the car classes which are a series of tests that have to be completed before you are allowed to drive those vehicles. These can be a pain but at least allows you to get to grips with the different types of vehicle classes. Races can take place on and off-road so you’ll be driving asphalt, classic and off-road cars. This opens up the island even more and provides you with an even larger playing area. While the locations and cars look pretty good the same cannot be said about the character models. It’s surprising how poor the models look considering how much emphasis is placed on customizing them. You can even visit plastic surgeons to alter the appearance of your character but this doesn’t help much. Your competition in the Solar Crown cup is equally uninspiring and all fall victim to the usual stereotypes. If the goal was to create an utterly unlikable set of NPCs then the developers definitely succeeded. To make matters even worse is the poor voice acting which sounds amateurish at best.

While the game starts out very fun the longer you play it the more repetitive it becomes. After a while you will have seen every type of race there is and taken part in it multiple times. You still have to manually drive to each location once before you can jump to it instantly again but at the least the free roaming has been made a bit more interesting. Apart from challenging other online racers you can now also discover hidden car wrecks or take photos of scenic locations. The car wrecks allow you access to exclusive new cars if you find enough of them while the photos earn you some extra cash. Both of those elements as well as the amount of roads you covered also factor into your “Discovery” level. There are also “Social,” “Competition” and “Collection” levels which all factor into your overall level. This feature makes the game feel even more like an RPG. The new F.R.I.M (free ride instant money) also makes driving between locations more fun as you can earn extra cash along the way. The day/night cycle as well as the different weather effects also enhances the experience.

The vehicles in the game are a mixed bag with some definitely controlling better than others. Fortunately, you can test drive each vehicle before committing to a purchase. Each car is once again rendered in detail, both inside and out making them a pleasure to look at. Due to the narrow roads, civilian traffic and dodgy car handling you can be sure that you’ll be involved in a few scrapes and bumps. Fortunately car damage is purely cosmetic and you can never total your vehicle or even bang it up that much. A pretty powerful PC is required to crank out all the details up to maximum and while the game can look pretty plain most of the times there are also moments where it looks gorgeous. This all depends on the time of day, weather conditions, location and car that you are driving of course.

Exploring the island and finding all the shops and events can be fun but like I said the game becomes very repetitive later on. The whole Solar Crown cup story is not very gripping and having to listen to the same voice clips before each race just makes matters worse. The radio stations on offer have some decent tunes but are marred by the deeply unfunny adverts and annoying DJs.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 had a very rocky launch with servers not working and all kinds of other issues that thankfully have been fixed at this point. You even get two free DLCs adding a couple of motorbikes (for multi-player racing only) and new missions free of charge. The “Casino” DLC still has to be bought with “Atari Tokens” however. As fun as the game is, it still suffers from the same problems as its predecessor. If you can look past the rough edges you’ll find a very ambitions game. To enjoy it to its full potential you will have to put up with all its annoyances however.

*Review originally published 2011.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2, Vista SP2, Windows 7
  • Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz or AMD Athlon X2 4400+
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 8800 / ATI Radeon HD 3870 or faster*
  • DirectX®: DirectX 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 14 GB
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible
  • Peripherals: Keyboard, Mouse or 10-button controller such as Xbox 360 or Logitech Dual-Action
  • Other Requirements: Internet Broadband Connection, Microsoft .NET 3.5 required
  • Note:* Integrated video cards, such as the ATI Radeon HD 3200 or Intel HD Graphics, are not supported.
  • OS:Windows XP SP2, Vista SP2, Windows 7
  • Processor: Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz or AMD Athlon X2 4400+
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 / ATI Radeon HD 4870
  • DirectX®: DirectX 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 14 GB
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible
  • Peripherals: Keyboard, Mouse or 10-button controller such as Xbox 360 or Logitech Dual-Action
  • Other Requirements: Internet Broadband Connection, Microsoft .NET 3.5 required
  • Note:* Integrated video cards, such as the ATI Radeon HD 3200 or Intel HD Graphics, are not supported.

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