Late in the evening during the first full day of E3 festivities, we (and by we, we mean everybody) were treated to some downloadable demos on the Xbox 360 marketplace. One of the available free demos is that of Test Drive Unlimited, a game that developer Eden Studios is billing as a MOOR (no, we don't think that's the greatest choice of acronyms, either), which stands for "massively open online racing game."
The demo, which we'll reiterate is available to everyone for free on the Xbox Live marketplace (what are you waiting for?), allows you to jump onto the island of Oahu for a couple of races and some free-roaming driving sequences. The demo has a 15-minute timer on it, but you can hop out of the game and back in to refresh your timer. There's not a lot unlocked in this version, but you can scroll through all the menus to get a taste of what you'll be able to do in the full game.
The beginning of the game dumps you into the house of either a male or female avatar, and it looks as though you'll be able to make various tweaks to the character as well as your car once you've got the appropriate funds/gear/full game. The three cars in the demo are the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, a Lotus Sport Exige 240R, and the Shelby GT 500, which was famously nicknamed Eleanor in the Nic Cage classic movie Gone in 60 Seconds. The cars handle differently, and the difference between the handling of the Lamborghini and the Mustang was quite palpable.
Driving out of your house and onto the suburban streets of Oahu, you'll immediately begin noticing other cars roaming around. Some of the cars have names listed above them (along with their distance from you, in yards), which serves as a way for you to gauge what your rival opponents are doing. Cruising around the streets doesn't seem to offer very much at the moment, but at any time you can drive to a race location (or fast-travel there by selecting it on the map). When you load a race, you'll still be driving along the same streets that you were aimlessly wandering about previously, but you'll have an objective instead.
The two types of races in the demo are standard racing fare, a race against opponents and a race against the clock. Once you've crossed the finish line, you'll continue along in the environment from where the race ended, and can, again, opt to quickly select another race, or drive around on your own. Outside of the organized races, while driving recklessly, we acquired a two-police car warning and were chased down by a bunch of cops. The local authorities will be alerted either when you're speeding or when you're crashing into other cars, but you don't have to worry about it during mission races, so feel free to crash into everything.
Driving is very straightforward, and you can choose to shift manually or automatically. There are options to view the road behind you, as well as to move the camera into several different positions, from third-person behind the car to the driver's perspective within. The inside view is particularly nice, and you'll notice a lot of detail in the character's animations as he shifts gears and reacts to the car's movement. The outside environments are also shaping up, and you'll see debris flying across the road, as well as experience realistic-feeling shaking as you drive at breakneck speeds. We're looking forward to seeing how all these elements combine together into the massively multiplayer experience, and will bring you more on Test Drive Unlimited as information is made available.