Test Drive Unlimited Reader Review
Test Drive Unlimited is certainly a tough game to form an opinion on never alone write a review about. Take it's biggest marketing hook- the totally brand new Massively Open Online Racing genre is here and pioneered (and smartly licensed) by Test Drive Unlimited. This in itself is the reason many will pick this one up, but I am here to warn you folks- don't for that reason.
I hope I'm not giving you the wrong impression here, because Test Drive Unlimited delivers one of the finest gaming experiences to be found amongst all of this next generation of games ported over from the 360. The driving experience will not be to everyone's taste, but the game delivers in providing a customisable handling that convinces you into thinking that you're driving a car, rather than racing a car. The sublime implementation of purchasing a car, property and add ons for your character are addictively compelling. The island itself can at times, be flawlessly beautiful.
Simply driving around in the right car on the right road at the right time with the right custom song playing brings back memories of what makes games like GTA so great. This game gives the illusion that you can decide how to have fun, rather than it forcing you how.
The supporting gameplay somehow manages to usurp the core gameplay here in a perplexing case of identity crisis. You see, Test Drive desperately wants to be a MMO. You have your stat tracking, XP grinding, and even a whole island populated with real people. In concept, it's sound, but plane irritating lag, a poorly designed friends interface and the total refusal for any multiplay races to run on my PC is unacceptable. The worst part is that everyone seems to have a unique problem with the online experience- whether it be clubs not working, random server drop outs or in some cases downright refusal for online accounts to log in or save.
On top of this, in the games current un patched state, NVIDIA users can't change their resolution, HDR or Anti-Aliasing settings without the game deciding to reverse its textures and/or kill all signs of anti-aliasing and/or run like a dog. Enough fiddling around and restarting your PC can fix this, but with the beta being held so long ago, surely you would think these serious issues would have been sorted out.
Strangely though, I'm willing to persevere through such hurdles because I'm truly in love with this game. The concept of racing, driving missions and exploring is so artfully implemented, it's simply impossible to let go. The game actually encourages you to make a statement about yourself through the cars, clothes, houses and even the styles with which you can drive. Playing through it makes it feel like it was tailored to suit one person- you. Only a select few other games can make similar claims. Forgive me, as despite what the critic inside me begs, I must play more.
8 / 10