Last week at the Atari Spotlight (my full report
was posted on Monday) I got to spend some quality time with Test Drive Unlimited
. OK, so maybe it was more than quality time as we were allowed to play the game during appointments and I played the game any time I had a few spare minutes which in this case meant about three hours of total game play spread out across the two days of the event.
The first thing that gamers are going to have to get used to is that your car does not take any damage while the NPC cars in the world not only show damage but in some cases will drop parts on the road. This takes a while to getting used to as your car feels like a tank on four wheels. Once you get past this (it takes about 30 minutes or so) the game really comes to life. It is important to realize that this game is aimed more at the casual audience rather than the hardcore racing people so if you’re expecting Forza or Project Gotham you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Test Drive Unlimited isn’t your standard racing game, it’s more mellow than that. The object is to collect cars and earn money but if you just want to drive around the island and check things out that’s fine too. Exploration of the island is encouraged as that’s how you find car dealerships to purchase new cars, clothing stores, and where you’ll find missions to complete.
Missions are made up of some industry standards as well as a few new items. During my time with the game I completed a few time trial missions, a Crazy Taxi like mission where you have to pick someone up and deliver them to someplace else on the island within a certain time limit as well as a package delivery mechanism. What was interesting was that the type of car you have will impact the people who will ride in it. Pulling up in a Ferrari netted me a nice fair while the second time I tried the mission the woman didn’t want to get near my Audi A4.
One of the more interesting new types of missions had me delivering a collectible car to a dealership on the other side of the island. While there wasn’t a time limit the amount of money I received as a reward was based on how few collisions the car had while in transit. This was trickier than it sounds as the location was on the other side of the island. While the car doesn’t show damage ever time I hit another car resulted in a reduction in the price going down.
Outside of the missions there’s the fun you can have with your fellow races. In order to challenge someone you just need to flash your headlights at them and have them accept the challenge. Once you accept the challenge you are given a map of the area you are in and select the end point of where you want to race to by placing a marker on the map. Once it’s set you are then switched back to your in car view and you’re all set to race. It’s a fairly easy and quick way to go head to head with somebody else. When you are done with the race you are given the chance to race again with the same person so if you just want to race against your buddy for an hour or so you can do so without having to challenge and re-challenge each other.
Driving around the island you’ll notice the occasional police car out on patrol. The police on the island really won’t bother you unless you start ramming into other cars. I buzzed by one police car at least 50mph over the speed limit and they didn’t blink an eye. Each time you are involved in an accident you earn one shield and while the shields go away over time if you earn three of them you will earn the immediate attention of the cops. While the higher end sports cars can leave the cops in the dust they will call in road blocks to try and stop you if you stay on one road for long enough. Getting pulled over will result in a large fine but no jail time so as long as you’ve got the money you can get away with about anything (kind of like OJ).
I did notice that the cops won’t follow you off road so one way to get out of a ticket is to pull off onto an off road area and wait for the heat to die down. This might get ironed out in the final version as it seems a bit of a cheat. The other quirk in the demo was that the police have male voice in the car but the model you see handing you the ticket is female. Which either means there’s a bit of work to be done or the cops in Hawaii are using Xbox Live’s voice disguiser.
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