Test Drive Unlimited 2 Hands-On

You got social networking in my racing. No, you got racing in my social networking.

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Luxurious cars, sprawling mansions, posh parties: Test Drive Unlimited 2 strives to not be just a racer, but to simulate the fabulous lifestyle of a millionaire seeking adventures driving fast cars. Developed by Eden Studios, which has made entries into the Alone in the Dark and Need for Speed franchises, Test Drive Unlimited 2 will be released by longtime publisher Atari.

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Unlimited 2 strives for realistic driving and environments, separating it from more-arcade-style racers. Our demonstration allowed us to explore an accurate replication of Ibiza, Spain. We started with a premade avatar and proceeded to buy an Aston Martin from a local car dealer. We had the freedom to explore the island’s paved roads and vast landscapes. However, Unlimited 2 isn’t meant for simply solo play, and we were soon joined by other players. We quickly added each other to our friends list and were able to instantly warp to a meeting point.

While we had the option of starting a traditional street race, we instead opted to try a cooperative follow-the-leader mode. Instead of all players being shown the route on our GPS HUD, only one of the racers was given the location of our next check point. After crossing each goal, the leader would switch off. Communication and teamwork were needed to make sure that everyone finished the course.

Strangely, while the driving mechanics seemed fluent, there was little regard for damage. Our car could spin out, crash into walls, or drop off cliffs, yet could drive away with only scrapes and dents. Unlimited 2 isn’t interested in copying the spectacular wipeouts found in the Burn Out or Need for Speed Games. It was rather pleasing that our pristine, luxurious Aston Martin also doubled as an unstoppable tank. However, barreling through Ibiza isn’t your only option.

We were led to our decadent estate, where we could spend money buying decorations and furniture and admire our packed garage. We even invited the other players to our home and used in-game emotes to socialize. We noticed that our characters each had different levels and statistics. Apparently we gained levels in various fields, including racing and socializing, as we participated in more events and spent time with our friends.

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Test Drive Unlimited 2 is an intriguing way to combine online social gaming with fast racing action. We are looking forward to exploring a highly populated Ibiza when Test Drive Unlimited 2 is released on September 21 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

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