Your character (which you can choose from a line of characters at the airport) arrives by aeroplane to Oahu and sets about hiring a car to buy a house with a garage to keep the collection of cars and bikes he/she will acquire. This also doubles up as a base from which you can access information about the game, statistics and buy, sell and trade vehicles from. You can also trade vehicles online with other players. From here you can also access the marketplace with downloadable content coming soon. From here you can customise your character and this does have a very good original facial customisation where the head can turn like real life and through the massive selection of parts you can change, you are sure to make him/her to look as you want. From here you can also kit your character out in designer gear, which you can add to their wardrobe by buying clothes from the stores. This is done by earning coupons from the top models missions, which you can then use in the stores. Now that you have your first car, the open roads are waiting for you to discover the many different missions, car showrooms, real estates, clubs (like clan) and diners, from which you can create custom challenges, or you can free roam the whole island. You are free to go where you want and do what you want. Oahu does have a very large police force, bump another car and they will appear. Interesting though they seem to ignore speeding, but this a good thing otherwise they would be on your tail all the time. The shields that appear at the top of your screen flash when you are getting away from the police and are quite easy to evade at the one shield stage, get to two or three and then it's a different matter. If caught and you do not have enough money you will be sent to jail where you do have to sit out 20 seconds of gameplay. Fines can be quite large and you will be cursing if they catch you, with their roadblocks. A rather graphical GPS system with zoom in and out features similar to Google maps is used to find your way around the island and this has a lot of features, by selecting challenges, key locations, players or bookmarks, you can easily find the right class challenge for the car you are currently driving by using the handy filter system or perhaps a car showroom or clothes store or a particular mission. These can also be used to jump around the map once you have unlocked the area sometimes saving you a long drive. Selecting the point you want to go to will then start the GPS showing you the best route to take and letting you know how far you are from you destination. This map is available whenever you need it, but I suggest you find a safe place to park before hand as the car/bike tends to carry on!
Races do not come without hazards; this is street racing after all! such as guard rails, houses, trees or vehicles coming the other way and you will find yourself in a bank or even someone's garden, but using the voice prompted GPS system it is clear when a twisty turn is approaching. As you would expect there are races against the A.I or against the clock. These are based on car class, so make sure you have bought the correct car from the class for the challenge you want to do. There is a complete lack of pedestrians, apart from the characters in the missions and so I presume they either drive or sit inside their houses. The characters are rather vague and ugly looking. As well as these there are hitch-hiking missions, top models, who give you coupons for driving them to their destination without scaring them and transportation missions, where you take a person's car to its destination.There are some of them that do require you to drive a certain car or car type, and some that have penalties if you decide to drive too recklessly, but with the transportation missions there is something rather nice about driving that car you cannot afford at the time. The handling physics of the vehicles are pretty good with a driving aid which you can trigger on or off depending on your skill level. The motorbikes are fun, but to even get the chance to buy these you must have visited every car showroom. These are well worth having in your collection, you are able to get through traffic a lot easier and faster and you can even do wheelies! although the handling of these are not like the bikes in MotoGP. There are around 90 vehicles you can buy, which isn't a lot compared to some racing games, but in order to collect them you must also have somewhere to keep them and houses only allow you to park 4-8 cars or bikes meaning you must buy more houses to allow you collection to grow. The game developers have opted for not having in-depth car set ups or tuning, although there are options for upgrades. Instead they have concentrated on making the cars handle with a natural feel, which then gives you closer races on line. You can however buy wheels and paint jobs for them.
There is no car damage to your car, but other cars will smash and crumble. Visiting the showrooms, you have the option of sitting in the cars and looking at the interior before you buy. You can also wind down the car windows and take the car for a test drive before buying it. If you do not have the money to buy a car you also can hire cars to use to do challenges.
There is a difference in the graphical side of this game when played on an HD TV. HD defiantly enhances the shine and overall look of the cars, there is a very slight vertical synching but not enough to worry about, a normal TV looks a little cartoony, but Atari have surely got it right when it comes to the scenery it's a pleasure driving through the mountains or through the leafy avenues and if you live there I'm sure you would be able to pick out the roads you know. The roar from engines is realistic, but the soundtrack works on a radio station type system and is rather annoying when it keeps sliding every time the tracks change. The soundtracks are rather limited too, thank goodness for the Xbox 360 and the option to play your own music. Oaho from a first look doesn't look that big, but start driving round it and you will soon notice just how huge this island really is. You are not restricted to the roads either, take that car or bike down through the trees and banks. Test Drive Unlimited really is one game that should be in your collection. The fact that this game is very multiplayer orientated and so very easy to get in on the action when you feel like it, or on the other hand just take a slow drive and admire the countryside makes T.D.U stand out from other racers. This game was built for Xbox Live.
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Review: Test Drive Unlimited
Posted 07 September 2006 - 11:49 PM
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