The promise was grand and manifold: a real-world locale, a vehicle list filled with exotica, thousands of kilometres of open road and a thriving population of actual humans to race against. For the most part, Test Drive Unlimited delivered on its promises, but Eden Studio's greatest game set a milestone that few racing titles even dare to attempt: allowing virtual driving to be an open-ended, self-determined and leisurely pursuit.
Eden Games, developer of Alone in the Dark and Test Drive Unlimited, is no more.
Eden Games, maker of Alone in the Dark and Test Drive Unlimited, "has not closed", owner Atari has clarified - and Test Drive Unlimited 2 support isn't in jeopardy.
Atari appears to be in the process of switching off Eden Games' life support and closing the studio.
Atari has finally gotten around to bundling all of the Test Drive Unlimited Xbox 360 downloadable content together for PC.
Everyone likes cars. Even the greens have got their favourites, made of regenerative braking systems, Atkinson cycle engines, old yoghurt pots and bits of rhubarb. And it seems that videogames about cars are just as susceptible to a bit of the old premium downloadable content as anything. Not at all surprised by this, we decided to take a spin round some of it so you don't get run over by poor value. Rev your feeble metaphors and join us.
Project Gotham Racing 4
Challenge Pack - FREE
Eden has parked the sixth batch of Test Drive Unlimited cars on Xbox Live.
Atari's coughed up a few more cars for fans of Test Drive Unlimited on Xbox 360. Five supercars and a motorbike await you on Xbox Live Marketplace, along with a few Holden Efijy Concept car.
Atari was unable to confirm or deny rumours this morning that Test Drive Unlimited 2 is in development and due for release in 2008.
Last Thursday's news... today! Or, rather, more Xbox Live updates that we were too busy to mention last week. So: Test Drive Unlimited has been boosted by the addition of a new car pack (including a freebie taster car) and a new "Hardcore Mode" that gives owners of the Microsoft Wireless Racing Wheel incentive to plug it in again.
Those of you hanging around Eurogamer TV, wildly attempting to catch a glimpse of tank-topped Johnny Minkley, may well have noticed a new Test Drive Unlimited trailer.
The video shows off the PS2 version, released here on 16th February, stitching together scene-after-scene of law-breaking and reckless driving.
The game itself features over 1000 miles of Hawaiian road to burn-rubber on, either on or offline. With 30+ famous manufacturers included there's a wealth of cars to chose from and personalise, as well as houses and garages available to buy.
Still playing Test Drive Unlimited? Then you might be interested to know that Atari and Eden Studios have released some more content for the Xbox 360 version.
TT Games and LucasArts have fought their way to the premier position in the UK all-formats charts, as Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy becomes the highest-selling title this week.
Capcom's bloody adventure title Dead Rising has bludgeoned its way to the top of the Chart Track all-formats charts this week, becoming the fastest-selling Xbox 360 title to date.
Test Drive Unlimited fans can finally get their hands on the free "Launch Pack", which weighs in at 20MB and consists of two cars.
Eden Studios, Atari and Microsoft are working on a patch for Test Drive Unlimited, aimed at fixing a number of issues discovered since the game came out on Friday on Xbox 360.
Although the game's ambitious multiplayer ideas have held up well in our experience, apparently that's not the case for all, and Eden says one of its goals is to increase server capacity within the week to sort out performance, Clubs problems and connection issues.
Headline issues to be fixed by the upcoming patch include one that loses the player's progress and has resulted in the E-trade system being suspended. That's a bug, but other problems - like Club invites getting lost, "TDU server unavailable" messages and the difficulty in finding friends - are apparently down to server saturation at peak times, and should be fixed when capacity is upgraded.
With Test Drive Unlimited now available in the US and Europe, Atari has released a pair of new cars to celebrate - but you can't download them over here yet.
Grand Theft Auto is a genre, apparently. Or so Volition told us, explaining away the similarities between Saints Row and Rockstar's opus. We didn't really buy it. Rockstar actually found it funny. Over there this week on unrelated business, we mentioned this to a few of them and the reaction was a bit telling. "We're a genre now?"
Yes I'm doing this intro again - but with a twist! Because with Test Drive Unlimited, Atari claimed that Eden Studios had invented a new genre. The "Massively Open Online Racing" game. And we were sceptical as usual. But it turns out they were onto something, because virtually every tenet of the claim stands up.
In TDU, Eden has created a huge, open racing world that blurs the line between offline and online racing games. It's what Auto Assault might have been. It's not quite an MMO, but it's closer to that approach than the separated worlds of games like MotoGP and PGR. You could even get away with switching terminology - racing on your own against the AI and building up a stock of cash to invest in new equipment could be soloing, while its PvP is the combative encounters with racers you hunt down on the game's huge network of idyllic island highways.
Atari has announced its line-up for the Leipzig Games Convention, headlined by playable versions of Test Drive Unlimited and Neverwinter Nights 2.
The significant difference between US and European pricing of Test Drive Unlimited is down to differences in installed bases and local pricing, Atari has said.
Atari's planning to release downloadable car packs for Test Drive Unlimited on Xbox 360, starting six weeks after launch.
Atari's "Want To Be A Car Designer?" contest has entered the polling phase - so time's running out if you fancy getting your own dream car design into Test Drive Unlimited, which is due out later this year.
Atari's planning to release a playable demo of Test Drive Unlimited for Xbox 360 during E3 this year - and has announced that PS2 and PSP ports will line up alongside the 360 and PC versions when the game comes out in the autumn.
"Nobody ever passes first time," I told my sister the other day. She's about to start driving, see. Although that had nothing to do with the situation we were in, where I'd just swerved out from behind a lorry and then swerved back in because I wanted to avoid hitting a rabbit. Or a small child - I forget. She looked at me, moderately terrified, and said: "I don't want to learn any more." "Of course you do!" I said, casually mowing down a garden gnome for effect. "There's nothing more entertaining than going round corners when you're not quite sure whether you can brake enough."
Atari's confirmed that Eden Studios' forthcoming Xbox 360 racer Test Drive Unlimited will also be released on PC, as was hinted back at the publisher's Go Play event in October when we took a look at it.
Eurogamer has acquired an exclusive new trailer for forthcoming Xbox 360 racer Test Drive Unlimited - and it's now available for download.
We've got some exclusive screenshots, too, featuring some of the shiniest bonnets you ever did see.
As you'll know if you read our recent preview of the game, TDU features more than 100 cars, over 1000 miles of road and more online options than you can shake a gearstick at.
Test Drive Unlimited, then.