Test Drive Unlimited 2 Preview
Certain things go hand in hand when you have the money to own some of the world’s most impressive cars: a lavish lifestyle, tons of friends, and a whole lot of expendable income. Eden’s Test Drive Unlimited 2 wants to encompass all of that, so don’t think for a second that it’s “just another racer.” No, this is a cross between a MMO and traditional arcade racer, combined with the various enviable elements that come along with a wealthy existence. Set on the island of Ibiza, the developers have even gone out of their way to use actual geographic information to design this virtual environment, so it should feel as if you’re racing around the real Ibiza. We’ll get a standard day/night cycle plus weather effects, too, which means you’ll experience everything from driving rain and treacherous conditions to beautiful sunsets off the coastline and impeccable, inviting roads. And perhaps the best part is the abundant amount of multiplayer options that await you in this one, along with plenty of gameplay endeavors for the single player.
The focus seems squarely on multiplayer action, though. You’ll be able to create your own Challenges – along with your own reward – and have other players attempt them, and players can even bet on races if they don’t wish to participate. Hearkening back to the original Test Drive Unlimited, the game will boast the return of racing clubs; you can even purchase snazzy club houses in which to meet, and where everyone can display their own exclusive club cars. Clubs will be able to challenge each other in group events, or they can simple compete amongst themselves to see who the leader should be… It’s like a pecking order for the rich, really. On your own, you can endlessly build upon and tweak your hot ride, and select from a plethora of cosmetic upgrades and alterations. You’ll want to stand out in the crowd and to do that, you’ll need to spend some time lovingly detailing and outfitting your car; if you wanna fit in, you have to exhibit all those superficial traits the less-than-privileged frown upon (typically out of jealousy).
See, it really isn’t just about the racing. In addition to being able to buy cars, you’ll also be able to purchase unbelievable homes and similar to PlayStation Home, you can actually walk around with your avatar in first-person mode and explore your environment. This is how you’ll build your fortune and meet new friends, as the game tells a traditional – yet always uplifting – rags-to-riches story that will eventually place you on top of the world. But in order to achieve such lofty goals, you have to start off by simply winning races, and it’ll probably help if you get hooked up with a bunch of go-getters. In wandering around your expanding world, you’ll definitely meet many other players who will be willing to challenge you to one-on-one confrontations and provided everything remains on friendly grounds, you can all rise together. Besides, in the end, don’t you all want to be on a yacht, drinking champagne off the coast of Ibiza?
The idea of walking around the homes of other players and even wandering through car dealerships is pretty cool, you have to admit. I mean, even being able to bring a friend and sit in a prospective purchase, all the while discussing the car’s interior…? Sweeeet. The game will support voice chat but if you don’t have a headset, you’ll get the requisite emotes to communicate with others, although if you plan to be online a lot, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a headset at some point. But having the opportunity to do almost as you will, including taking a friend along for a joyride, should present us with a very appealing atmosphere and one loaded with potential. The arcade-style racing is probably a good idea, too, as most who play Test Drive aren’t really looking for ultra-simulation; they’re looking for fast cars and pretty locations, along with a fantasy lifestyle. And you know, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
5/3/2010 Ben Dutka