The drive of your life?
With the likes of Need for Speed: Most Wanted
and Project Gotham 3
ruling the roost of next generation console racing games, a newcomer to the track had best be something special to knock these two off the top spot. Whilst Burnout Revenge
is a fun and engaging arcade tear-em-up and has massive appeal on Xbox Live itís the turn of Test Drive Unlimited to offer something new to the table.Story
Thereís no real story in the game, itís about you taking on the role of a wannabe speed jockey and flying out to Hawaii where you hope to become one of the elite cadre of drivers on the island. Hop a plane and youíre there, buy a new car and a house and youíre on your way to amassing a fortune in cars, clothes, bikes and more.
Thatís the bottom line for the story.Gameplay - Single and Multi
Whilst TDU is another racing game it does try something a bit different, the whole of Hawaii is open for you to explore and drive on endless stretches of roads, punctuated by various shops and car/bike dealerships Ė thereís the obligatory AI traffic and if youíre online then the whole world is populated by random players from all over Xbox Live.
So itís really an MMO racing game that lets you explore and race with or against other drivers. The problem with this is, itís been done in somewhat of an archaic manner. The match up severs are clunky at best and they donít allow you to populate your world with friends that are on your Xbox Live friendís list.
When youíre offline the world is populated with AI drivers so you can still get your fix of instant race challenges.
TDU plays just like any other racing game in that respect; you earn cash from racing across various challenges some of which youíll need a specific class of car to play:
Race: typical race challenges, although some of these like the 1,000,000 dollar ĎMillionaireís Challengeí last nearly an hour and are extremely frustrating at times especially when youíre caught out by the dodgy traffic AI.
Speed: Speed trap races, amass the right score to win the gold, go as fast as you can past a camera and try to get the speed you need.
Delivery: Take an exotic sports car from A to B without getting a dent on it for a big bonus.
Model: Pick up a good looking babe from point A and deliver her to point B, some models will only ride with you if youíre in the right car. You get clothing vouchers from these challenges that can be spent in the various shops around the island.
When youíre not racing in the single player challenges, youíre racing against multiplayer opponents, either from the multiplayer races littered around the island or a quick instant challenge.
You just flash your headlights at a racer and theyíll either accept or refuse. Then itís time to pick a route, a prize amount for instant challenges can be set ahead of time and youíre off.
Whilst this idea works well, you can turn off online interactions if youíre getting too many people flashing you whilst youíre trying to explore the island. We found that during the course of the game we encountered people just wanting to ram into us and then litter the chat with abuse, in that way it reminded me of a classic MMO.
And with no way to kick players from your area you just have to bite the bullet.