STAFF REVIEW of Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360)

Friday, September 29, 2006.
by Rhiannon

Test Drive Unlimited Box art Test Drive Unlimited is a self proclaimed massive multiplayer online racing game. This particular racing title takes places on the island of Oahu Hawaii. All landmarks, road signs and highway layouts are modeled to a T. A thousand miles of roadways await to be discovered and experienced by the player in this racing titles debut in the MMO spotlight.
Test Drive Unlimited is a must have game for all race fans and online gamers alike. Even if your skills at racing suck, much like mine, you are going to love this game just for its online options and fun value. If you can?t afford the price tag right now then I fully recommend giving the game a rent. This game takes all the best features from other popular titles and rolls it all into one and makes an engaging MMO as well.

Test Dive Unlimited takes the player by the hand the first five minutes of game play. You are given a choice of character skin and from here you board an airplane to Oahu, Hawaii. Once your flight lands you are given the choice of a rental car and told to drive to a real estate office, to buy your dream home. Once your house is purchased, you may as well buy a car to park in your newly acquired garage as well. Once your first auto purchase takes place you are free to do as you please. A player can choose from a myriad of activities including races, timed events, vehicle transport missions or hitchhiker missions. All missions and race events completed successfully will add to the players bank account, and more money in the bank means more vehicles to collect and more real estate property. Or the player can drive around aimlessly and discover the miles and miles of roadways. You don?t have to be the best driver in the world either, as wrecks and fender benders do not harm your precious automobile in any way. However, you may want to pay attention to your driving while cops are in the area, because you can be caught and forced to pay one hell of a ticket.

When I mention vehicle collection, I mean a vast collection can be made from a solid selection of both foreign and domestic autos, motor bikes and classic cars. The best thing about the availability of all the selections is the ability to try before you buy. A player is given the option to take any vehicle on a ?test drive? to get a feel for how the vehicle handles on the Hawaiian roadways.
Not only is the player given a plethora of selections in the vehicle category, but the player is able to create a driver to fit his or her style so to speak, right down to facial features.
Test Drive Unlimited gives people the choice to customize their cars interiors, exteriors and performance parts. But the best of the options and playability comes from the online play. Players are put right in to the online scene with other players from around the world. Just like any other MMO you are playing in a world right alongside other players. You can create custom races including or excluding certain automobile makes. You can create custom races to include only your friends. You are given the ability to download outfits for you character, and also the ability to collect and trade performance parts. In my opinion the online play is the bread and butter of this title. I mean countless racing titles offer the player fancy elite cars, or specific customizations and the race/mission for money play style, yet none of them can touch Test Drive Unlimited and its online play.

The graphics are pleasing to the eye. Car and bike models are done flawlessly and the environment looks realistic right down to the leaves falling and the sun rays. The car interiors look fabulous and are done right down to specifics. My only gripe would be the character models and cut scenes. The cut scenes were boring and lacking and the character models could have been done much better in my opinion. Then again that?s not why you would buy or play this game anyways, and it does not take away from the games playability at all. Test Drive Unlimited offers seamless transitions throughout the island and load times are very short. The menu and interface are pretty well presented to the player and easy to navigate. Game controls are also easy to understand and master, its pretty much pick up controller and play, easy.

Test Drive Unlimited scores just as high in the sound department. Vehicle sounds are done extremely well right down to there being a difference between different car makes and whether the windows are up or down. The game offers a soundtrack boasting a selection of music genres and tunes that blend well into the whole driving in Hawaii scene. My only gripe about the audio would definitely be the voice overs. The voice overs were boring and few and far between. Not to mention, that watching a cut scene was like watching a Japanese film where the talking does not coincide with lip and mouth movement. However disappointing this aspect was, it in no way took away from the game.

My only suggestion would be for the devs to give the solo mode a more in depth story line( I am a sucker for a good story) and a less sufferable cut scene. Other than that, kudos, for a job well done from an anti-race game type of person.

Overall: 8.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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