First Impressions: Get ready to drive into the dream life again.
Back in 2006, developer Eden Games let you experience the fantasy life of the super rich by dropping you off on the beautiful island of Oahu, and earning big money by street racing exotic dream cars. Billed as a Massively Open Online Racing (MOOR) game, Test Drive Unlimited let you seamlessly challenge other online players you encountered on the road, as well as form car clubs with your friends to race against other clubs; create custom challenges; and more. It had its share of problems and shortcomings but overall, it was a fun, engaging racer that is still being played by thousands of people every day.
So it is not surprising that gamers are eagerly anticipating the 2011 release of Test Drive Unlimited 2. And from what we can see so far, Eden Games is really revving things up.
For starters, you will race on a new tropical island, the Mediterranean paradise of Ibiza. The game's version of Ibiza is 380 square kilometers, about two-thirds the actual size, but maintains reasonable geographic accuracy thanks to the use of satellite photos. Oh, and by the way, the original island of Oahu will also be available with enhanced graphics and roadways. In fact, when you level up high enough, you can unlock the airport to fly back and forth between the islands, and even unlock a yacht to take a more leisurely commute.
This also means there will be about 3000 kilometers of roads and 600 challenges, double the amounts of the original. Approximately a third of the roadways will consist of new off-road races for those of you wanting to get your rally on. Sweet!
Other new features will include a day/night cycle and rain; in fact, you will be able to watch the weather channel on your TV for the next day's forecast. But if you're cruising around in a convertible and get caught in the rain, the top will come up to keep you dry. Cool!
Also new is car damage; yes, your reckless demolition derby driving style of the original will now have consequences in the sequel. Damage will be cosmetic only, so while you won't have to worry about adversely affecting your car's performance, you probably won't want to drive around in a banged-up multi-million dollar Koenigsegg. Fortunately, you will be able to repair any damage if you have the cash.
You will also have greater customization options, including tons of decals. It's not clear if the customization will be as extensive as Forza, but it will no doubt be an improvement over the original.
Naturally for a racing game, the cars are gorgeously detailed, right down to the accurately recreated interiors. The number of cars and manufacturers will be about the same as before, but a full list has not been released yet. So far, the confirmed manufacturers are Aston Martin, Audi, Chevrolet, Chrysler/Dodge, Ford, Gumpert, Koenigsegg and Mercedes-Benz, and include 4x4 vehicles for the new off-road challenges.
The environments have also been given an impressive graphical upgrade, not an easy feat since the first game looked pretty darn good already. You will notice greater attention to detail like coral under the water, and of course the pretty new weather effects. One of the joys of the original was taking a simple leisurely cruise to admire the scenery, and the sequel looks to enhance that experience.
The driver avatar system also returns, but now you will be able to actually control your character and walk around dealerships, houses, and even on the street. In fact, you will be able to get inside a friend's car and ride as a passenger. The new avatar freedom was designed to enhance the upgraded social aspect of the game, which will now allow group activities (which haven't been revealed yet) and the use of emotes.
Car Clubs will be back, and you will definitely want to be member. Not only will it add to your social progression level, but being a club member will have special privileges like unlocking exclusive cars.
The various individual, club and custom race challenges of the original have been maintained, with the addition of the new Follow the Leader co-operative mode. This is a group challenge where only one player can see the location of the next checkpoint, and must communicate to the other players where it is. Once that checkpoint is reached, another player assumes the role as the ?leader? and must direct the group to the next location, and so on.
The police will also return but the developers promise the ?wanted? system will be revised. Hopefully it won't be as distracting and annoying as the original ? this is TDU after all, not GTA.