37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Its need for speed, but it isn't!,
This review is from: Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
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.