TDU 2 Preview - E3 2010
E3 2010: We check out the cars and social spaces in Test Drive Unlimited 2
Test Drive Unlimited was very interesting title with many unique and well executed ideas. The driving game offered a huge island to roam around in, with good exploration mechanics, sweet cars and an interesting personality component. Not everything worked well though, as the multiplayer had a share of great ideas that allowed users to meet in the open world at any time, but it also had some issues with the execution. A few years later, Test Drive Unlimited 2 (TDU2) is in full swing and promises to bring a whole new island to explore, improved community features and stellar multiplayer. We had a chance to see and play the game at E3.
The game still offers total freedom to explore the island and drive anywhere, with beautiful scenery and lookout spots to discover. The new island is bigger, and this time offers new off-road sections that add a new element to the driving experience. There are more races, driving challenges and events to discover, over 100 in total. The game now has a full day/night and weather cycle, which again adds more authenticity to the title. During our live demo, the game was running on PC, and we were handed an Xbox 360 controller. The graphical detail was above average, and the game ran at a very smooth frame rate.
After making a selection of a vehicle, we entered the open world. The car’s handling mechanics have remained rather easy for pickup and play, though the various cars we tried did handle very differently. Since our friend was already driving off to the event, we were able to bring up the map and instantly spawn next to his vehicle. Once we were ready to enter the race, both vehicles appeared on the starting line. While we waited for more players, you can actually get out of your car and walk around the starting line, check out your opponent’s car and even sit down inside of it. We could chat and interact with each other while waiting. This adds an amazing new social aspect to a lobby as you wait for everyone to be ready to race.
TDU2 seems to be very focused on the social and lifestyle simulation. In the original game, your avatar was a neat addition to the game but didn’t really factor into the gameplay. In the sequel, your avatar is almost as important as your vehicles. All interaction in the game world takes place by meeting people in public places. There is an extremely strong resemblance to the PlayStation Home system. Outside of the driving, the game almost becomes a Second Life type of experience, which is very neat for a racing game. Players once again have their own home or apartment to purchase, customize, and invite friends to. The game also has RPG-like elements, with each character having a level that’s based on experience, events completed, friends made, etc. Points are earned by completing various challenges in four different gameplay areas. As expected, you can walk around inside your home freely, visit the garage to see all your cars, or buy a whole new place downtown.
Back at the starting line, we were ready to race. After completing a typical race across a part of the island, we were directed to do a coop racing event. There is a number of events in the game that are coop and team-based, letting you compare scores between teams of friends, not just individuals. One such event was called Follow the Leader. Here, we started off without a path marker, as only our partner could see where the next checkpoint was. We had to follow, but once we reached the race checkpoint, our partner’s map was cleared, and now we could see the next destination. This type of coop racing seems like a fresh idea in a tired genre, and things will get really interesting when 8 players are involved, and the next checkpoint keeps cycling between the players’ maps. With 8 players in any race, and up to 32 players in any public social space, TDU 2 looks to be a social experience as much as a racing one.
With an improved outset of multiplayer features, some interesting social gameplay components, a character progression system and tons of exotic cars to drive around a huge island, it’s not likely TDU 2 players will run out of things to do. It would seem that the developers have brought a wide range of fresh and interesting new features to the game, without abandoning the focus on core racing experience. From what we’ve played, the game looks to be a real contender when it releases this September 21st on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.