Back when the Xbox 360 was launched, EA released another incarnation of their Need for Speed franchise. It was a meek showcase of the power of the Xbox 360 and a suggestive view into the future. Unfortunately it had one big problem. Sure it had lots of flash cars, lots of parts to buy and some impressive visuals, but for the first time in a Need for Speed Underground style game it introduced cops. This wouldn't normally be a problem if they weren't an integral part of the game and 45 minute chases weren't necessary to advance but they were. You could spend 40 minutes successfully avoiding capture then unwittingly drive over some spikes and you'll have just lost 40 minutes of your life you won't get back.
Now, imagine a game with the familiar free-roaming map, lots of flash cars, lots of challenges and cops. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Well, in many ways Test Drive unlimited is very similar, but only in the good bits. Instead of a made-up world you've got a scale representation of Hawaii, with miles and miles of roads, countryside and coastline. You've got a downtown area full of shops, car dealers, real-estate agents and diners. There is so much map to explore you probably couldn't see it all in one day.
At the start of the game you pick your avatar, get on a plane and soon you arrive in Hawaii. From here you rent a car, take a trip to the estate agents to buy your first house, then to a car dealer to buy your first car. After that it is up to you what you do. You earn money by entering races, completing set challenges and challenging other xbox live players as they pass.
If you are connected to the internet, other Xbox live players appear around you whilst they pursue their own single-player game. If you fancy a race with someone, flash your lights at them and plot a route to race on. If they accept you can attempt to show them your tail lights! Single player challenges appear in blue and multi-player challenges are in orange and you'll pass under their icons as you drive around. Entering a multiplayer event will launch a familiar lobby screen where you wait patiently for the other players to decide that they are ready. Waiting for people can get tiresome but luckily this isn't really essential. There are still hundreds of single-player challenges to do first.
As the money rolls in you can start buying more houses with bigger garages to store your cars. The cars in the game are split into 6 catagories - A to F. A-class cars are the fastest and most expensive and F are the slowest and cheapest. Most of the challenges are locked to a certain catagory of car, so you need at least one of each, but the more the merrier!
As I've mentioned, there are police in this game, but they're a side effect rather then a necessary evil. If you don't hit other cars and annoy them you need not worry about them. Phew.
This game has tons to do, loads of achievements to get and the integration with Xbox live is seamless. There are lots of great cars, ranging from the old American muscle cars to the more modern Aston Martins, Ferarri's, Lambo's, Alfa Romeo's, Audi, VW and many more, plus you can download more from Xbox Live Marketplace.
Cars handle like real cars. The car's weight shifts its balance and effects your cornering and there is no ridge-racer style powersliding. The physics engine is powered by Havok, who are renowned for realistic physics in many games.
Forget what the demo was like, this is more polished, more fun and there is no time limit. Great game.
on 21 June 2007
I love this game. It has so much to do and the fact that you are doing this whilst cruising around Hawaii has got to be a boon. The thrill of racing a mate online dodging throught the traffic at 200mph and laughing as you jostle each other into a head on collision. True, the physics can be a little bit off, and some of the normo cars on the road can randomly swerve in your way every now and then, but it's superb.
Just finished first in the around the island race. The feeling of racing your fully tuned Pagani Zonda at speeds of ~230mph, with the Maclaren F1, Ferrari Enzo and a Maserati on your tail / bumping you / overtaking you / eventually being beaten by you, a full 120mile race at an average of well over 180mph, it's just WOW! Imagine if you'd crashed at the last minute and all 3, who have been with you all the way, go flying past and you have to race again!!! There were 8 cars in the race and the other 4 were quite a few miles behind at the end.
No other game can surely say that collecting gamerpoints is as fun as on TDU.
on 27 April 2014
The Test Drive series has been around a long time, but unlike fellow arcade racer Need for Speed, new iterations arrive infrequently. After going through various incarnations that included street racing, off roading and even a Southern style demolition derby title, the franchise went dormant. Now, the series has been resurrected for the 360 and it is clear that the developers were finally ready to bring the series into the major leagues.
Like its forebears, Unlimited is an arcade racer, but this newest iteration is different in many ways. For one, the racing is no longer confined to tracks and instead takes place in a huge open world. And this isn't just any world – it's a real location. Players are plopped down in the middle of Oahu, a tropical Hawaiian paradise, and given a huge stable of cars to buy and drive around. Unlimited allows the player to delve deeper into this fantasy of luxury, with the ability to outfit your character with a variety of clothing bought from real brands and acquire houses and garages to park your cars in.
Of course, everything starts with money. And you'll only get money by racing. There are numerous race types across the island such as circuits, sprints, time trials, and speed races. While most of them are standard racing fare, the latter deserves explanation. Speed races come in two different flavors. The first is just to get your car up to a certain speed, then end the race. The only problem is that these races are usually held on heavily trafficked or curvy roads. The other speed type is similar to NFS speed races, where you pass a number of checkpoints; your speed is registered and averaged out to a whole. Unlike the NFS games, there is no set path and you can pick which checkpoints you wish to hit first.
There is an additional type of event, called “transport”. Transport events take a number of different guises. In some you'll be driving a vehicle to a new location and in others you'll be transporting people and cargo. Each has a minor quirk that sets it apart from the others – for instance, damage during a vehicle transport mission deducts from your final reward – and a different reward, but all of them are fundamentally the same. Of course, some of these transport missions are the only way you can get the vouchers that allow you to buy clothing in the stores, but that's an ancillary diversion many people won't take an interest in.
The actual racing is good, but there are a few bugs in the vehicle physics. For the most part, these are so minor it may take a few hours to notice them, but they do affect gameplay. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a car not turning properly, or as drastic as a car suddenly losing traction and flying off the road. But as the game progresses, it becomes more of a problem because of the increasingly high performance cars you'll be driving.
Another of these subtle problems is with the transmission. This is a consistent problem, regardless of which car is being driven. At times, a shift doesn't register, or it registers late. While this isn't so much a problem while shifting up, it becomes immediately noticeable when shifting down. This problem borders on being ridiculous when you have to put your car in reverse, as it can take upwards of five seconds for it to actually go into gear. It may not sound like much on paper, but if you've just spun off the road and everyone else is going by at two-hundred miles an hour, five seconds is a lifetime. Of course, these problems can be avoided entirely by switching to automatic transmission, but that's an unacceptable solution for any self-respecting racing enthusiast.
In the case of motorcycles, it is best to avoid them altogether. While they suffer the same basic physics and transmission problems as the cars, these problems are exaggerated by the fact that motorcycles are inherently more unstable than cars. There is also no way to lean over to take a sharp turn, which means that motorcycles tend plow straight into a barricade and turn the driver into a human missile.
During the game it is likely (and inevitable) that you'll come up against the cops. They can be called in for numerous reasons, such as reckless driving or a hit and run. While they aren't especially smart, they make up for it in dogged persistence. They'll try to ram you and they'll also set up roadblocks. To make matters worse, if you hit another car, or another car hits you, your wanted level goes up. In effect, this means more police and more roadblocks. It wouldn't be so bad if there was some convenient way to shake them off - something similar to Grand Theft Auto's Pay and Spray - but no such mechanic exists. Instead, the wanted levels have to fade one their own. It also seems that this isn't based on a matter of time, but of distance driven, so if you want to lose the cops you have to stay on the roads and not just hide out. At times it is easier to just pull over and take the ticket, but the prices become astronomical in a hurry. Price factors include everything you hit as well as a loose approximation of your skill, called driver level. The good news is if you're completely broke they just put you in jail for thirty seconds and you're free to go!
Survive the police and win races, and you'll eventually get enough money to start buying cars. But don't be surprised if you have to make some hard decisions in your purchases. Unlimited has most of the big names such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, and McLaren, along with a handful of luxury vehicle manufacturers like Mercedes and some more down to earth companies like Ford and Chevrolet. All in all, there is a nice mix of cars that span from both the low to the high end of the spectrum. But, there are some very noticeable holes in the lineup. For instance, Porsche and BMW are mysteriously absent. That's not to mention some of the most prolific companies are missing many of their signature models. Ferrari has been whittled down to the bare essentials and Lamborghini is lacking the Countach, Diablo and a few others. While many of the missing cars have apparently been introduced via DLC, that doesn't do much good for those without online – and those unwilling to pay for cars that should have been in the game in the first place.
Unlike most racing games, the cars you buy in Unlimited don't just go to a mysterious invisible garage with unlimited space. You must have a garage where cars can be stored, and that's where real estate comes in. Each house on the island has a garage that holds a certain number of cars. Once it has been filled, you must sell some cars or buy another house. More expensive houses tend to have larger garages. Houses also serve as a basic hub for the game. Not only is that the place to store cars, but you can check your game progress, Achievements, and change clothes for your driver.
For a budget title, Unlimited looks okay. The cars are absolutely magnificent on the outside. By using the driver camera, it is possible to immerse yourself further into the illusion of driving one of these cars. However, the immersion is hindered by the fact that the instruments don't work on many of the cars.
In terms of the environment, it looks okay as long as you keep your eyes focused solely on the road. Look around and you'll see that this digital recreation of Oahu isn't nearly as pretty as the real thing. While it's hard to expect ultra-realism from a budget priced game that attempts to recreate an entire island, it's still a little disappointing. The landscape is filled with two-dimensional trees and bland textures. The culprit is easy to pinpoint; dozens of square miles of empty land with no roads fills the interior of the island. Had this unimportant area been ignored and the island streamlined, there would have been much more time to work on the rest of the island.
Unlimited's audio is interesting. Every car has a realistic radio, and you can choose from several stations that encompass rock, alternative, electronica and even classical music. While the song list for each station is limited, each is pretty good and fits the overall mood of the game.
While the game has its fair share of problems, it allows the player to experience something truly unique in the gaming world. How many other games out there allow you to take a Koenigsegg all the way to its top speed on a winding backroad? That's enough of a reason for this game to warrant a look by any racing fan.
on 21 January 2011
The amount of 1* reviews for this game is shameless.
This game is one of those for people who like racing and free-roaming, hence "unlimited" being in the title, you start off in an airport looking at a number of people waiting for a plane (these people are actually your character choices) you pick one and they get on the plane. Next thing you know, you're in Hawaii, choosing a car from a rental service in order to go to an estate agents (yes, you have to buy a house, to keep your cars in) and then from there you buy a car.
After you've bought a car you can go out and do races, but bear in mind that cars are classed in this game, from "G" to "A", so you are only eligible for certain races with certain cars. The races themselves are fairly easy to begin with but get a bit more challenging as your progress, the "Tour of the Island" race being a good example of this as it takes close to an hour to finish the entire race, but getting $1,000,000 for it is well worth the time taken.
Now, cars, there are plenty of brands to choose from in the game, and plenty of dealers dotted around the island to find (you have to travel to the dealer in order to unlock it) for those who like driving to places, this is heaven, but it does get annoying when there's like a 50-mile distance to travel and the only car you have is in class G. Some brands that I can think of are:
-Ducatti (bikes are in the game after finding ALL car dealerships, takes a while)
So as you can see there is a HUGE variety of cars to choose from, and, they handle realistically! Yes, the slow cars are slow, and the fast cars are fast.
Now, here's one problem (with the xbox 360 version) sometimes, after you've finished the "Tour of the Island" race your data can become corrupted, meaning you can't reload it and have to start again, this is a relatively minor problem (dependant on your view) but it is annoying as you'll have to build up your fortune again.
So, in summary I would recommend getting this game, as it is a refreshing departure from the standard racing games and offers a unique setting (Hawaii) and an abundance of cars to choose from, if you can see past problems then it is a brilliant little game.
Also, this is NOT Xbox 360 only, it's also on:
PS2: Test Drive Unlimited (PS2)
PC: Test Drive Unlimited (PC DVD)
PSP: Test Drive Unlimited (PSP)
Although the PS2 and PSP versions are lacking features present in the PC and 360 versions.
on 10 September 2006
.. in my first hour i choose how i actually look, rented a red lotus, bought 2 customised chevys, took some supermodels shopping, lashed some audi's and vw's, mucked around with sat nav and the car windows, bought a house, got chased by the cops for smashing into a SUV, hooked up the LIVE-ness and started racing and chatting with people all over the world around the fairly huge island of honolulu - flash your lights and away you go.
Graphics are lush and detailed, handling is decent;not quite arcade, not quite simulation, music seemed fine, enjoyed playing it really.
The potential of this to me seems huge and I can see this taking up a large amount of my time. Buy it.
on 21 August 2006
Many people have given this game a few bad reviews, but they are mainly basing their views on the demo, which at the moment is a work in progress and mentions at the beginning it will not be the final version and can contain problems.
Anway, apart from that, Test Drive Unlimited is the next generation racing game that has been long anticipated. The game includes 125 vehicles, including cars and motorbikes, countless challenges where you can simply pull up to another racer in the game, roll down your window and talk through your headset to the other person saying, "wanna race?" And you're immediatly in one. Since this game is an MOOR (Massively Open Online Racer) almost all the racers driving around the island are real people that you can chat to.
The setting of the game is 1000miles of open roads on Hawaii's Oahu Island, where you can literally drive anywhere you want in it.
As for the Online part of the game again, as i mentioned before, you can start up a race immediatly after challenging someone. Also in online mode you can chat with friends, auction off your cars, create clubs where all your friends can hang out and compete against other clubs. If you haven't seen any screenshots or videos of the game, I suggest you do, the graphics put into the game follow up with the title of the next generation racer, including interiors made to perfection.
The creators of Test Drive Unlimited want to give you the feel that you are actually on Oahu Island and they try to include small bits of detail that are realistic, including the Ferries that cruise around the Island on the actual paths in real life.
This game is the start of the next generation racer games
on 15 June 2007
I bought this game thinking it was a completely random plan for a game and it would be really hard to make a whole game with just driving around an island somewhat aimlessly, without even being able to get out of the car aswell. But all that seems pointless when you actually pick up the game and play it.
Being able to pick your first car own house and making your way up from having an audi TT, to a ferrari enzo. A Ford mustang, to a lambourghini murcialago. And the game, is not actually as pointless as you may think. You can buy over 40 houses, compete in races competitions that will increase your rank, and the obvious thrill of collecting all the cars.
This game, it has to be said is the best driving game i've ever played and will last me a long time. Being able to travel around a whole island and meet anyone you like if you go to the right destination with little lag time. But then again I am only talking about the pros, and with all games there are always cons.
-Its hard to stay in touch with someone you meet over test drive unlimited,you can see them yes but only for a short while, and yes I do know there is a lock on feature located in the D-pad menu, but it dosent seem to work half of the time
- The cars being indestructible, I mean you either love that or you hate it, but for me it takes the whole experience of driving out of it, you should be able to feel like its realistic crashing into a wall with a ferrari enzo in real life, you'd think all hell has broken and you'd have to buy a new one but now you can do whatever you like with it and its just gonna keep on going. I mean yes there is the police to try and stop you and arrest you but they seem about as effective as a cat trying to catch a dog.
-It seems somewhat to easy to build up your money, within a week i was able to buy the konensigg CC&S The lambourghini murcialago and 4 other cars of that standard. The way into raise your money up is far too easy.
Other then these somewhat minimal faults, I find the game to be quite brilliant, and I would reccomend anyone else to buy it.
on 6 June 2007
Test Drive Unlimited was the reason why i bought my xbox 360 last summer...never before have i seen a game with such depth. I mean, 1,000 miles of roads, including highways, and some B-road equivelants that sweep throught the mountains...that said, the actual handling physics of the cars isn't that great, but you do get a sense of how the car is going to react. And all the cars are different in that respect...for instance the Lotus Exige S feels like a go kart in comparison to say a Ford GT...The roads themselves are a bit less well conceived, being overly to angular to allow the cars to run over smoothly at times, conside 90mph over a hill and the car takes off, and it's supposed to be a motorway...:S but then again, you never do 90. The cars are the main attraction to this, as well as the interactive play with other people. It really is great. The amount of cars/bikes you can buy is massive, and all the houses you can buy. You can even tune the vast majority of the cars, even the Ferrari's, Lambo's, and bikes. Cars such as the Saleen S7 twin turbo which has been tuned can hit speeds nudging 280mph, with a fair amount of slip stream and downhill...you can also download cars from xbox live, such as the RS4, Skyline, Ferrari F40, RUF RTurbo etc. It's crazy that you can actually realistically clock up mileage on each car you own. You can even find out how many miles you have done in total, and find out your total playtime. Apparently i've done 12,000 miles in a year spread over 20 odd cars...thats alot of miles. you also have 4 stage traction control, on, sport, hypersport and off. depending on the car's characteristics. The attention to detail is incredible on the game in general, especially the interior of every car. The sound isn't great, as it seems alot of the car's sounds have been shared. But as i said before, the depth is immense. If you're anything like me, and into cars and driving and doing a legal (but fake...) 250mph than you will never get bored.
on 11 September 2006
At the time of writing this review, all the Amazon.co.uk reviews of Test Drive Unlimited were written prior to release and are based on the Demo version only. Here's a review based on the full retail version.
When I first heard about Test Drive Unlimited I was excited by the prospect of a persistent driving experience which seamlessly mixes single player and online gameplay. However, like some of the reviewers on this page, I was disappointed by the seemingly lacklustre demo.
However after a bad week at work and the need for some retail therapy I decided to buy the game on the day of release, and boy am I glad that I did!!!
I literally did nothing all weekend but play TDU. The game really kicks off when you have a purpose. Your presence online is pivotal to this game. Everything you do is aimed at climbing the ranks to open up more races and challenges, which in turn get you the much needed money in order to buy the best you gan get in each vehicle class. Then take those vehicles out on the road and burn rubber with anyone in the world, either through preset races, challenges created by yourself or other players in the community, or the quick thrill of challenging any player you meet on the road to a quick one-on-one race. The island is truly virtual.
The graphics look a hell of a lot more polished than the demo and the engine sound is very convincing and unique for each vehicle. My favourite camera position is the photo-realistic in-cabin view - it actually feels like you are sitting in the car even down to the visible hand movments of the driver. You even get insect smears on the windscreens. So much attention to detail!
Oh yes, and last night I drove through a flower bed, so I think they fixed one of the major issues Lost had with the demo.
The cars handle brilliantly with a realistic sense of weight, momentum and power. The only slightly dubious handling issue is the fact tha all the cars seem to turn on a dime when performing a U-turn at unter 10mph, so doing a U-turn feels a little unrealistic. However, I'm prepared to overlook that as having to do a three-point turn whenever you want to set off in an opposite direction could prove unecessarily tiresome.
I'm tempted to give this a 5 simply because it is so much fun, but 5 would mean 100% perfect which is a tough one to call. There are a number of features which could have been included - for instance a damage model for the player cars (nd an associated cost to fix) would not only have been more realistic, but would discourage those online players who prefer to just barge people off the road to get ahead rather than using dring skills.
However, TDU is what we got, and what we got is by far the best semi-realistic racer I have ever played (Burnout Revenge being the best 100% arcade racer). Four stars then, and a big thumbs up.
on 15 July 2006
This game was due out late 2005 and has been put back several times, at least you can now try the game out on Xbox Live to see what's in store for it's September release.
On first impressions I was a little dissapointed with the graphics, they are good, and rich looking in colour, but they just don't have that real life look that other games seem to do better such as PGR 3, they have a distinct pastelly dry look to them, imagine Forza Motorsport, they look just like that.
But that aside the cars and driving experience excel, and are arguably the best ever created in a console video game, I have NEVER heard a cars engine from inside the car sound as realistic as this, the Lotus is frightening! it's deep, throaty and aggressive, and would have Jeremy Clarkson waving his hands in the air and jumping up and down with excitement, what's more, each car has it's own distinct sound, so when you try the 3 different cars available in the demo you'll notice the engine sound will be different in each one, and the handling too, this makes a joke of the ultra arcadey NFS series, where they build an entire games career around unlocking the cars only for them to all handle exactly the same, and if your like me and drive with the bumper view; all look the same; all you see is tarmac. In Test Drive you get the actual drivers view inside the car like in PGR3, and it's fantastic, I'd say there is even more detail in the Test Drive versions than in the PGR cars.
The game consists of Races, time trials etc, situated in different places all over the island of Hawaii, and you start the game in your flashy condo, complete with it's own huge garage of supercars, just walk into the garage, choose your motor and a screen will show you driving out in your car, then you can roam the entire island looking for whatever you want, or use the teleport option to get to where you want to go right away.
The game is somewhat limited in one respect, basically no matter how many tracks the game has, it's all in one environment, something you may tire of, it was the same with NFS Most Wanted, but the island feel reminds me of the phenomenal TT Superbikes on the PS2, set in the Isle of Man, so roaming around an entire island in glorious sunshine might just be more interesting than I'm giving it credit for.
The Test Drive series was always NFS's poor relation in the past, even though it's been going longer, the two series were very similar, both focused on sports cars in various worldwide locales, with the emphasis on outlandish speed, with the TD Series peaking IMO with TD5, it then threw it's rep away with the awful TD6 , and later the somewhat lukewarm TD Overdrive was passable, but the handling was poor. Now they have really pulled out all the stops, and for the first time in years I'd say the latest TD game is a 'serious' racing game that blows NFS and others out of the water.