The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
I’ve never been to Ibiza or the Hawaiian island of Oahu, but the way
they are presented in this game is what I’d expect. Life on these two
island paradises half a world apart is laid back and yet full of fun
diversions everywhere you look. Still, you can take things at your own
pace. Wait a minute – isn’t this supposed to be a racing game? Where’s
the race for first place? Believe it or not, Test Drive Unlimited 2
encapsulates these two extremes to different degrees. The game’s
all-encompassing approach satisfies varying tastes and ends up being a
versatile utility vehicle.
Developer Eden Games succeeds in
creating an open-world racing title that blends online racing,
single-player career competitions, and free ride exploration into one
cohesive experience. Games like Burnout Paradise have done this before
(and in some ways better), but two of the key things that make TDU 2
stand out are the locations and its various leveling categories that are
all linked together.
You gain XP in the Social, Discovery,
Competition, and Collection categories by doing related activities such
as making a community challenge (Social), completing photography
assignments (Discovery), defeating other racers in competitions
(Competition), buying houses (Collection), and much more. In turn, these
four categories’ make up your overall rank in the game.
the four categories’ levels are separated, they feed into each other.
For instance, cruising around and finding new roads and
manufacturer-specific upgrade shops earns you Discovery points.
Exploring the islands is how you find the various showrooms that may be
required to compete in a race as well as further your burgeoning car
collection for Collection points.
If anything, the Discovery
category itself is a tad too important. A few times I felt like the game
was pushing me to spend time free-riding around the islands just to
find an upgrade shop or even a shirt I wanted. I also didn’t feel I was
getting enough Discovery points when I was staking out uncharted
But every time I got uptight about this structure, I
would find a wrecked car with my onboard metal detector, spontaneously
challenge an online player to a race, or even take on a photography
mission, and I’d be having fun again.
The islands themselves also
prove to be a great tonic for my ills. Not only are the environments
beautiful, but the varied terrain is great for racing. Hills, offroad
switchbacks, tight city corners – there’s a lot to tackle. Furthermore,
the real streets mean you have a little less width to work with
(sometimes there’s even oncoming traffic), and plenty of roadside
objects like signs add a layer of danger. Even the time of day can
become a factor. I once kept retrying a particular race so much that I
had to race it from dusk until dawn the next day – and it was far easier
once the sun was back out.
Unfortunately, this cool environment
is filled with too many races that lack difficulty. The roads themselves
are more of a challenge than the AI racers. I could routinely beat the
competition while driving lesser cars. Even though you’re racing against
characters in the Solar Crown, on the track they showed no personality
at all. Apart from some occasionally cool modes like an
around-the-island endurance race, blowing through speed cameras in any
order, or the online Follow the Leader race (where only the designated
leader of the pack can see where the next checkpoint is), most of the
Competition races don’t have any sizzle.
Test Drive Unlimited 2
might be lacking in some areas, but this is one instance where the sheer
quantity of features prevails since their structure is thoughtful
enough to make this game more than just a lazy vacation.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.