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Test Drive Unlimited Review





Developer: Eden Studios Publisher: Atari
Release Date: September 5, 2006 Also On: PC, PS2 and 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.

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Test Drive Unlimited is average looking at best for a “Next Gen” 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 aren’t 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 don’t 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 doesn’t come up to par as a racer.
The physics just aren’t 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 isn’t 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 Drive’s 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 game…ever. 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