Test Drive Unlimited

Reviewed by Shawn Kennedy, Posted on 2006-10-09


Developer: Eden Studios Publisher: Atari
Release Date: September 5, 2006 Also On: PC, PS2 & Xbox 360

The Test Drive series has been one that has only been average at best over the years. Even during its early years on the original PlayStation, Test Drive was merely a basic racing game compared to the likes of Gran Turismo. Today, the franchise has taken the step forward into the next generation, trying to pry gamers away from the likes of Need for Speed and Project Gotham on the Xbox 360. How they plan to do this is through a MOOR (Massively Open Online Racing). Sound interested? Well without Xbox Live Gold, there is no point in even looking at the rest of this review, because Test Drive Unlimited would not be for you. But if you do posses a full Live account, then the term Unlimited does come into play quite nicely.

Test Drive Unlimited is average looking at best for a ďNext GenĒ title. While the island you are racing on looks good, other parts of the game do tend to flop. Character models are nothing to rave about and the light and shadows definitely arenít on par with where the generation is taking us. With over 1,000 miles of driving space to cover however, the frame rate does hold up well. Even online where the bulk of the action takes place it hold up. Atari did a good job of creating a streaming server to hold the massive island and the ability to keep track of all the cars on the roads with you online.

Grand Theft Auto and Need for Speed this Test Drive is not when it comes to the audio department. The soundtrack is very limited and not as great as it could be. But with the aid of the media player through your 360, this is not a huge deal. The car sounds are average at best. They donít sound too realistic and kind of sucks the fun out of your experience. Also, the GPS voice is kind of annoying and gets extremely repetitive throughout your time on the island. The audio department could definitely have been better knowing the capabilities the 360 has.

Compared to other racers, Test Drive just doesnít come up to par as a racer. The physics just arenít right for racing, especially on motorcycles. You struggle to find real control over your vehicle at times which does cause frustration in a lot of races. There is plenty of terrain to cover as you have over 1,000 miles of virtual terrain to cover on the island of Oahu. While the single player offers a variety of the typical missions, the online portion is where most of your time will be spent. Without the online part of Test Drive Unlimited, there isnít even a reason to pick this game up.

The Massively Open Online Racing provided in Test Drive allows you to sync up with everyone playing the game online and just cruise the world with them. There are car clubs you can join with other people that meet in real time and many RPG elements that can be used to change your appearance or upgrade your ride. Driving past other cars can be as simple as treating them as NPCs, but flashing your headlights at them issues a challenge for a race. This is seamlessly done and a great part of Test Driveís online features. Of course just exploring the massive terrain with a lot of people offers a fun experience like in MMOs, but its only part of the fun you can have with Test Drive. Get involved with the community and have a good time, or else you really should not look at this gameÖever. Test Drive is only worth a look if you have complete online capabilities. The single player mode alone is not enough to keep you interested in this game for more than a few hours.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.4
Written by Shawn Review Guide

Reviewed by Shawn Kennedy