#725 Test Drive Unlimited

Posted: 13th July 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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882nd played so far

Genre: Racing
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Eden Games
Publisher: Atari

Test Drive Unlimited is described as an open world racing game, similar to Burnout Paradise, but set in what the book calls the perfect location: Hawaii. We’ll fly over, find an apartment, go out and race.

Our Thoughts

There is something interesting about an open world game set in a familiar location, in part because of the comparison of how it matches real life, but also, I think, in the way it creates odd designs organically – a road is there because of historic reasons, not because it was designed for it. It doesn’t necessarily lead to ramps or stunts like I sometimes saw in, for example, Fuel, no, it’s there to let you get to some houses. I’m not sure to what extent this applies to the Hawaii of Test Drive Unlimited, but there were some random roads and bypasses where it was hard to ignore that it was awkward for that reason. I’m sure things have been optimized and smoothed over, but you’re not in a game world as much.

Even the start feels a bit more real, even if it’s devoid of much story. You actually land at the airport and have to lease a car before driving to buy a place to stay and getting your own first car. Even that early on, it becomes clear there are loads of things to purchase – loads of cars, some seventy houses, plenty of dress up options and all the usual upgrades. It feels quite big from the start and at least the game starts off easy enough. The first unlocked challenges are straight forward enough to beat and I didn’t struggle much to get up a rank. It does start to ramp up more quickly as it went on, but I felt I had a decent enough chance for a while.

There’s a decent variety of races, with most of the proper races being traffic free, at least early on – something that was quite nice as a beginner to make it through, as later, less formal races with traffic become more frustrating. Then there’s the model driving, which feels sleazy with the way you are clearly trying to pick them up. It was fairly uncomfortable and felt a bit unnecessary, a choice I wouldn’t expect now and I skipped the missions after trying one. There’s plenty of other options anyway, between time trials, races, minimum speeds and speed traps and more.

Final Thoughts

Test Drive Unlimited genuinely feels huge, with loads of options from the start and more that unlock later. There are loads of races and challenges, and there were even more available online or to share with friends, which could have been as interesting. There are some dodgy parts though, and some very difficult challenges, but this had its moments for sure.