Currently scheduled for release in September, Test Drive Unlimited is an online racing game that takes place on the impressive, picturesque Hawaiian island of Oahu, which boasts more than 1,000 miles of tarmac for you to play on. We've talked about many of the game's features quite extensively in our previous coverage, but one of the things that we've been unable to talk about until now is its all-important achievement points. How many different achievements are there? How easy will it be to add another 1,000 points to your gamerscore? Will the ever-devious Jeff Gerstmann find a way to earn any of the game's achievement points while he sleeps? We know that at least some of you care about this stuff as much as we do, so what follows is a brief rundown of the achievements that are up for grabs in this work-in-progress version of the game.
Test Drive Unlimited boasts no fewer than 46 different achievements, and although many of them are very similar, they still include a good variety. There are some that you'll earn simply by playing the game, others that reward skillful play, a few that encourage you to check out some of the game's more innovative features, and a handful that you'll really have to work hard for. Much has been made of Test Drive Unlimited's online functionality, but you'll actually be able to earn the majority of the achievement points without ever plugging in your Ethernet cable. No fewer than nine of the game's achievements, for example, can be unlocked by earning gold medals in single-player time, race, and speed challenges. A further four achievements can be yours if you successfully complete missions--such as helping top models with heavy shopping bags to their destinations or delivering packages--within quite strict time limits, and you can even earn points by driving distances of 30, 200, 400, 1,000, and 5,000 miles during your time on the island. Tying in with those "tourist" achievements quite nicely is the "explorer" achievement, which you'll unlock only after you've traveled every road on the island.
As you drive around Oahu in whichever car you opted for at the start of the game, your main goal will simply be to earn money so that you can purchase more rides, houses, and clothing for yourself. This aspect of the game, and the fact that you need to invest in properties all over the island simply so that you have enough garage space for your growing collection of cars, might not appeal to everyone, but you'll have to devote a significant amount of time to shopping if you plan on earning any of Test Drive Unlimited's 14 "collector" achievements. The most obvious of these achievements are those that reward you simply for owning a certain number of cars. There are five of these achievements in total, and while you'll only need two cars in your garage to earn the first of them, you'll need a collection of 50 to get them all. Your taste in vehicles will also count for something where achievement points are concerned, since there are seven achievements that reward you for owning three rides of a particular type. The majority of these are concerned with vehicle manufacturers, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, Ford, and Chevrolet, while one of them just requires you to own three bikes. The remaining two collector challenges will appeal to the clotheshorse in you, since they require you to purchase 10 garments each from in-game stores belonging to Ben Sherman and ecko unlimited. If you're looking for other ways to unlock achievements simply by parting with in-game money, there are also points up for grabs the first time you buy a performance pack for one of your cars, purchase a second house, and purchase your (gulp) 15th house.
We haven't had an opportunity to take our work-in-progress version of Test Drive Unlimited online with other players yet, but most of the remaining achievements will require you to do just that. Victories in ranked multiplayer races are good for three achievements, and after unlocking an achievement for creating or joining an online car club, you'll have the opportunity to unlock another one by winning three interclub competitions. Achievements can also be unlocked by winning instant challenges and custom challenges against other players. And if you're feeling creative, you can unlock another achievement by sharing three custom challenges that you've designed. Last but not least, you can earn points by buying or selling a car with another player, which you can bet our own Jeff "show me the points" Gerstmann will be doing within about 10 minutes of loading the game for the first time.
So there you have it. Like many of the upcoming Xbox 360 games that we've been playing recently, Test Drive Unlimited boasts a large number of achievements and at least a few that look interesting. Is this the shape of things to come for the achievement points system? Let's hope so. We'll bring you more information on Test Drive Unlimited, and on the achievement points that are up for grabs in upcoming Xbox 360 games, as soon as it becomes available.