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Test Drive Unlimited - 360 - Preview


Posted by: jkdmedia

Test Drive has always been a series to stick to the straight racing while the other titles of the genre branched out into new territory. Well now it’s branching out, and far surpassing its competition.

Test Drive Unlimited is almost like a racing RPG now. It takes place on an island that is totally open, with roads that stretch on into the horizon. Highways and city streets as well as coastal cruises are found all over. This may sound like something that’s already been done, but Eden Games goes above and beyond by making the entire island inhabited with other players. That’s right; it’s like an MMO racing game.

One of the elements that truly add a role playing twist on Unlimited is your customizable character. You won’t be spending any time running around outside of the car, but when shopping, hanging out at home, or even driving your player is visible to everyone else. To make each character as different as possible, players are able to change their look and what they wear.

To gain new clothes and such, players will actually have to drive into town from their home and access a store. There they can spend their hard-earned money on shirts, pants, accessories, and whatever else. This is also how you purchase new cars or homes, by actually going out and shopping for them. For instance, you’re sick of your current house, the garage is too small for your car collection, and you have tons of money to blow. As you leisurely cruise along the beach you notice a beach house that fits the bill. So after taking a closer look and seeing the “for sale” sign you purchase the house.

Car purchasing can be done multiple ways. There’s an in-game trading post where players can trade or sell their cars in an eBay style fashion, using your in-game money to make the purchases. You can also go to the dealership and buy one new. Or, to save money, you can earn your new cars by seeking someone out and challenging them to a one-on-one race, putting your cars up as the prize. There are tons of other ways to set up these races too, from setting your own checkpoints to allowing more racers and so fourth. There will be more than 50 different rules to use when setting up these races.

The cars are extremely detailed, inside and out. All the cars are licensed, and there will be over 125 available. I was also told that they are all high-performance cars; the slowest having 250hp. Before buying or riding a car you can do a close up inspection using a free camera system, as well as open the door and take a look at the interior. All the dials and dash systems are there and fully functional. You can even roll down the windows.

Players can even create clubs, much like a clan or guild in other types of games. When starting a club, certain criteria can be set, such as an all Jaguar club. These clubs can organize tournaments or meets, as well as just hang out and chat.

I was able to try the game out using a great steering wheel setup. Controls were great, the look of the game was smooth and crisp, and I saw no framerate issues even in its early build. The cars even controlled fairly realistically – corners weren’t easily navigated at high speeds versus low speeds. There was no noticeable car damage in the demo, but with the focus being on collecting high-class cars and keeping up your status it would seem a little out of place. There were also markers on the HUD showing where the other human players were on the map and their distance.

Test Drive Unlimited seems to take online racing to a whole new level. It’s planned to be a launch title for the Xbox 360, so make sure to check back for more updates.       


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