First impressions #02: Test Drive Unlimited 2

Lyndsey Mosley

Lyndsey Mosley, editor

Welcome to the second issue of first impressions. This is a feature focusing on games that we’re trying for the first time and our immediate knee-jerk reaction. Be prepared for some interesting feedback on old and not-so-old games.





Game: Test Drive Unlimited 2 (2011)

Developer: Eden Games

Publisher: Atari

System: Xbox 360/PlayStation 3

Played by: Lyndsey (for Xbox 360)

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is a strange beast. It’s several games wrapped up into one: A racer, off-road driving simulator, life simulator and collector’s dream. There’s plenty to do and discover in the course of the game, and it will undoubtedly be a while before anyone finds every single thing that’s hidden.

What drew me to the game, initially, was the promise of the off-road, drive anywhere premise. I didn’t play the original game so I wasn’t aware that this is standard in the series. I’d read a preview in Game Informer and found it interesting because I like the sandbox exploration types. This is why Animal Crossing is so fun for me and why I spent a lot of time playing it. Keep the sandbox element and throw in cars and driving, and I now have a game that I REALLY want to play. So TDO2 succeeded in that respect.

Once I got into the game, selected a character model – whom I can’t really make look all that much like myself – and got to exploring, I found a great deal of enjoyment waiting. I love the fact that I can buy a car from the beginning. The controls took a while to get used to but eventually I was zipping around Ibiza easily. The other immediate thing that I love about the setup is the GPS. While I don’t use it in real life, it was IMMENSELY helpful in the game. I usually found myself setting a course for some random spot on the island and driving to it in hopes of adding to my discovery points or finding a photo assignment (more on this later).

As I was exploring, I came across quite a few of the shops that the game offers. I love virtual shopping so this was one of my favorite parts: Dressing up my character randomly with money I earned. I can safely say my character is a classy-looking racer. I also bought another car, specifically for the dirt racing championships: A Land Rover. While I will probably never own one in real life (they are luxury vehicles in the U.S., after all), I do love the car. It’s gotten quite a few miles on it since I’ve been tooling around the island.

One of the things that I like about the game is the fact that I can enter championships at any time after I’ve earned the corresponding license. I love literally roaming around the island and jumping to a championship site whenever I feel like it. Same thing goes for the photo assignments I mentioned earlier. The premise is that you have to take shots of landmarks on Ibiza because some photographer hired a dimwit to take photos who didn’t know what they were doing. So off you go to fix the problem and get paid per shot. I’ve done seven so far at $5,000 a pop.

I’ve bought property also, another part of the collection aspect of the game. I have two homes now, though I really wish more of it

The car models in Test Drive Unlimited 2 are gorgeous. The people? Not so much. Photo courtesy of

were customizable. Sure, you can change wall colors, tables and chairs, but that’s about it. I really wish I could purchase my own stuff from a store and have it put inside the houses.

While I love a lot of the game, there are some things I’m not fond of. The character models are terrible. I don’t really care about graphics that much, but I do have a line of pretty and not pretty in games, and this is one on the wrong side sometimes. The car models are awesome and I like the look and detail put into them, but the people look like a huge mess. They animate strangely, which was one of the first things I noticed. The other thing I noticed immediately was the reusage of models. It’s like there were only about six or seven models created so Eden reused them constantly throughout the game. Also, the voice work is terrible, too. Most of the time it doesn’t match visually with who’s saying it. In other words, my characters voice doesn’t really match up with what she looks like. Those gripes aside, I can really get into the game and spend a lot of time running around doing absolutely nothing.

The game did have a rocky launch and the online service is problematic, but that’s not what I play the game for anyway. I like the single-player experience just fine so far, and I think I’ll probably be sticking with it for awhile.

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03 2011

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