Test Drive Unlimited Review

Test Drive Unlimited may just be a glimpse into the future of video game racing. Sure it has the great looking licensed cars and all the graphical goodness of a next-generation gaming Ė you can actually look through the rear window of your car and see your driver changing gears Ė but then so do plenty of other next-gen racing games. What really sets Test Drive Unlimited apart from other games is its scope and the seamless way that it integrates multiplayer racing into the game.

Cruising Oahu.
First of all the game gives you the entire island of Oahu. You can simply hop behind the wheel of your car and cruise around the entire island. If you can drive to it in real-life you can probably drive to it in the game. The sheer scope of the size of your playground wonít set in until you go for a drive and then bring up the in game map. Once you get past simply staring at the beauty of the satellite generated map of the island youíll probably be surprised to find that you more than likely havenít driven nearly as far as you think you have. Simply going on a drive around the island with no other goal in mind than to see the sights will require a significant investment of time on your part. For the first time in a racing game, driving a mile in the game actually feels like youíve driven a mile.

The other thing that potentially makes the game a sign of things to come is its integration of single player and multiplayer gameplay. If you have your Xbox 360 hooked into your network when you start the game, the Test Drive Unlimited servers will automatically bring in some other gamers from Xbox Live who just happen to be driving around the same part of the island as you. You can see the other players in the area both on your map and as you pass their cars on the streets. You can enter into a multiplayer race by simply flashing your lights to challenge the other player, or you can drive to places marked on the map as multiplayer races. Itís really pretty cool to see the innovative way in which the game completely blurs the line between single and multiplayer gaming, but itís not a perfect solution yet. Since youíre never really connecting to a dedicated multiplayer game per se, it can be difficult to race your friends on line. Players used to sending game invites over Xbox Live may be frustrated by their inability to hook up with their friends in the game. Thereís also the chance that the players sharing the road with you arenít really interested in multiplayer racing at the moment, which is something that you never have to deal with when you enter the multiplayer mode in other games.

As for the gameplay itself, it revolves around you entering in the various races youíll find around the island or completing missions which pretty much all amount to nothing more than trying to deliver something somewhere within a given time limit. The goal of all of this racing is to earn money which can be used to buy more cars, which in turn will allow you to enter more races. If youíre looking for a story or structured gameplay you wonít find it here. Test Drive Unlimited is more of a Zen-like experience in which the journey is more important than the destination.