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Test Drive Unlimited 2
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by Rob Williams on February 23, 2011 in Gaming

Could the next great racing title be here? Compared to most other racers, TDU2 is a complex game, offering just as many social aspects as it does racing aspects. And as hoped, it offers a lot for the player to do, and caters to both casual and serious gamers alike. Despite launch bugs, is Eden Games’ latest worth an immediate pickup?

Gameplay, Bugs & Final Thoughts

For the completionists out there, TDU2 offers incentive to exploration, and rewards you handsomely if you drive 100% of the roads in each region. At the same time, each region features 10 different “Wrecks”, and if all 10 of those are found, you’re rewarded with a unique automobile. These autos tend to be more for fun than racing, however.

For those tired of the single-player experience, hopping online couldn’t be easier. In fact, if you create an online-capable account (which you should, since it can also be played offline), you’re essentially always online. Even during your single-player missions, or exploring car dealerships, you’ll see other players doing the same thing. However, while directly in a mission, race or anything of the sort that competes you against offline characters, you’ll be unable to see others who are online (as it should be, else other players would likely impede your progress).

Like the single-player experience, there is a lot to do online. For those wanting a quick race, you can challenge someone to one, and depending on how much you wager, you can either win or lose some big cash. You can also partake in some challenges that are located around the map. If you win whatever challenge is set forth, you’ll walk away with a nice haul.

There are also “Community Challenges”, which are challenges other people setup that you and others can pay to compete in. Sometimes, the pots here are huge, and that tends to result in a lot of skilled players taking part. If you manage to take the top spot before the challenge timer expires, you’ll be rolling in dough (maybe).

Adding to the social aspect are clubs – places to hook up with people of similar interests. I admit this is one area of the game I didn’t explore at all, so this is something I can’t comment on too much. If you enjoy meeting people and finding someone to race with, clubs are the go-to place.

At the game’s launch, Atari unveiled a piece of DLC that brought a Casino into the game, and at around $10, it could be worth it to those who A) like to mingle and B) enjoy a good gamble. This Casino, based on “Casino Island” (which the character must fly to), offers slot machines, poker and roulette, along with a clothing store and some other things. You can even race around a track on the island to compete with other players, and even win the car you drive at the slots.

The Casino DLC adds 10 levels to your character, so that you can reach level 70 rather than 60, but all 10 of those levels must be earned at the Casino itself. You can level up by taking advantage of virtually every aspect of the gambling paradise, including mastering the games and doing other random tasks. The biggest payoff of course is to win the Audi R8 off of the slots, which can take a couple of hours but is valued at over a million dollars.

Overall, TDU2 is a game that caters to those who aren’t after just a “racing game”, but rather want to be more involved with their character. If that idea seems intriguing to you, then TDU2 is a great purchase. It offers a ton of gameplay, many, many hours worth of content, and lots of online potential.

But, some downsides to the game must also be mentioned. In the first two weeks of the game’s launch, Atari / Eden Games have been working hard to keep the game servers online, and patch up other bugs that have been plaguing some users. So far, there’s been reports of corrupt saves, a mystery car showing up at the shop that can ruin your game progress and most importantly, the inability to get online whenever you need to.

Fortunately, many of these bugs have been squashed, with Eden Games having released at least three different patches since. Some issues still remain, but the servers finally seem to be stable again, and players can finally get on and play the game as it was meant to be.

But bugs aside, there are other issues with this game that prevent it from becoming an “epic” title. For one, the story is lacklustre, but to some that won’t matter. What does matter is that the voice acting in the game is some of the worst I’ve heard in a video game ever. Don’t believe me? Check out our posted YouTube video where you can hear some of it.

The real problem isn’t so much the lame voice acting though, but the fact that you hear the same lines over, and over, and over, and over again. There are a minor number of lines used to introduce each race, and while listening to the radio, you’ll hear the same ‘they tried too hard’ commercials too many times. Ironically, one of the catch phrases for one of the radio stations is, “It’s not repetitive, it’s Hariba radio!”… well, sorry to say, but it is repetitious.

On the topic of radio, there are unfortunately only two different stations; one that caters more towards pop/dance, and the other focusing on rock. For the most part, a lot of the songs here are good, but due to a short tracklist, we end up hearing the same songs too many times over. This is where a custom tracklist option would be useful, or even the ability to skip songs – but both are non-existent. At the same time, some songs are frustrating to listen to.

Among such classics as “Code of the Road” from Danko Jones, “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” from deadmau5, “For an Angel” from Paul van Dyk and “Common Man” by Delinquent Habits, there are ridiculous offerings (subjective) like “Daddy Was a DJ” from Lucy Love. There are others, but this one stood out to me enough as being the worst song in the game. And possibly the universe.

In the end, all of these niggles are just that, and not a game-breaker. For music, I alt-tab and launch up a media player to play what I want, and that works out well. It’s inconvenient, however, and Eden Games clearly should have offered people the ability to play their own music from within the game.

Other minor problems exist, such as the inability to easily move around cars from one house to another, the inability to sell cars to another player, a total lack of motorcycles and other odd bugs that can occur, but overall, as long as you are a bit lenient, most of these issues might not even bother you.

As it stands, I find TDU2 to be a great game, but it could have easily gone down as “epic” if Eden Games and Atari left it to cook in the oven for another month. Some of the bugs discovered after launch are purely needless, and in some cases, inexcusable. It’s understandable to have bugs after any game launch, but some of these have been harsh enough to cause people to bring the game back to the store or shelve it indefinitely. The first two weeks of a game launch shouldn’t feel like a beta, and it certainly did here.

As it is now though, all of the important bugs seem to have been ironed out, so if you are in the market for a robust racer and are just a bit lenient, you are sure to have hours upon hours of fun with Test Drive Unlimited 2. Just be sure to regularly back up your saved game, just in case.

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Page List:
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1. Introduction
2. Gameplay, Bugs & Final Thoughts
3. Extra Screenshots


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