Test Drive Unlimited

Format: PS2

3 546430 127155
Age Restrictions: 3+
16 March 2007

Live the dream car lifestyle with the most unique and innovative on and offline racing gameplay on the biggest network of roads ever realised on PlayStation 2, fully streaming with no loading times. With the ability for thousands to play online simultaneously, gamers take part in 8 player races or go for a drive on over 1000 miles of diverse Hawaiian roads, passing by any number of other players on the way. Visit exclusive dealerships to purchase new cars or simply take them for a spin. Collect and trade rare performance parts and customise each car to make it one-of-a-kind. Winning races, challenges, missions and tournaments earns credits which can be used to purchase new cars, rare performance parts, clothes, apparel, homes and garages...

The biggest problem with being a games reviewer is that nine times out of ten you receive nothing to actually prepare you for the game but the disc itself. Test Drive Unlimited is one such game. We received no instruction manual and there's no real training level to get you used to the game, so my experience of the game involved many hours of driving around from race to race. However, checking the press information online on the Xbox 360 version of the game you can also race bikes as well as engage in numerous missions like helping hitchhikers catch planes, picking up girls, chasing car thieves, and escaping from a psychopath. But don't go looking for any of this on the PS2 version, because the bikes have been scrapped and the missions take an age to find - after hours of playing all I was doing was following the onscreen directions to the next car race.

I find it next to laughable that the bikes are missing from the PS2 version. GTA managed to fit more vehicles on screen on the PS2 and in Test Drive Unlimited the other vehicles on the road are very limited in appearance. So what was the problem?

The gameplay all got a little too repetitive a little too quickly, I'm afraid. The graphics are pretty average, the racing segments of the game are a little lacklustre, and exploring your environment is boring. If you decide to roam around and get the cops to chase you, don't go expecting any wild GTA style pursuits. For a start you can't damage your car, so it's simply a case of driving full pelt at any vehicles that are in your way. And should the police organise themselves well enough to produce a road block, the simple solution is to just drive straight through it, sending the cars flying.

I know I keep mentioning GTA, and I know that Test Drive Unlimited is nothing like GTA, but I'm purely trying to illustrate that other games manage to cram everything in, so what is the problem here?

There are some neat little touches, like being able to open or close your doors and windows and changing the radio station, but there's very little here we haven't seen before. Possibly the only truly original element here is the ability to stop at any car showroom and take any of the cars on display for a test drive.

This is far from a great game, but there's something about it that will have you going back time and time again. Maybe it was the car geek in me that really got off on visiting dealerships and spending ages looking over some classic sports cars.

At the end of the day though this is going to disappoint a lot of gamers who will be expecting much more. I suggest you rent it and take it for a test drive before you part with your cash.

Nick Smithson

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