Heading back to paradise, Eden Games revs up their engines in the long awaited follow-up to 'Test Drive Unlimited.' Although, just like any tropical vacation, you're gambling with the weather, and Eden's forecast is looking a little cloudy. Does 'Test Drive Unlimited 2' live up to its grandiose potential, read on to find out.

The original 'Test Drive Unlimited' was highly regarded here at Extreme Gamer. Nominated and winning of 2006 racing game of the year, we praised its ambitious mash-up of open world gaming mixed with the formula of a standard racer. Not only did the original showcase how to step outside the box, it had enough gusto and solid racing mechanics to keep it in our minds through all the years. Stepping forward to 2011, Eden Games (finally) brings us 'Test Drive Unlimited 2,' and advancement of the original with even more of bells-and-whistles then expected. However even with its ambitious spirit intact, 'Test Drive Unlimited 2' doesn't meet our expectations and leaves us wondering what happened to this “on paper” winner.

Now before I dig any deeper, I should expand on that a little more. 'TDU2' isn't a bad game, it's a solid racer with more than enough options. However, its just not the hum-zinger we envisioned. While conceptually solid, the execution wavers all over the road, making it look like someone at Eden should have been pulled over for a DUI (developing under the influence.) 'TDU2' is sadly too unfocused and oddly balanced between good, great, and satisfactory levels. Again, it's not bad, but it's not going to meet the buzz we expected after enjoying the first 'Unlimited' so much.

The Solar Crown socialites
Jumping into 'Test Drive Unlimited 2' you will immediately get a sense of its new direction. A social styled “lifestyle” simulator of such that is pushed forward by a "better than nothing?" narrative. Ideally this isn't a horrible idea and does a lot to put a common focus on the competition, but who really wants to play “The Sims with Cars?” Walking in first person, buying houses and climbing the ladder of the 'Solar Crown' racing circuit is all fine, but the way its executed, it lacks the first games feeling of freedom. Still, you are free to by pass all this, however, you are going to need the cash to enjoy the free-roam aspect of 'Test Drive.' Even if you're not really into the new narrative driven gameplay, you will likely find yourself falling back into the plot, gaining licenses and working your way up from valet to superstar.

With that being said, 'TDU2' is shifting away from its core demographic, the straight-up racing fan. Even if these elements somewhat worked, the city is so lifeless, void of pedestrians, that the whole “social” idea doesn't gel. The “social” idea of playing with other peoples over Xbox Live, or the PSN is where the money is. Connecting and playing with your friends and/or strangers is one of the “big” key features in 'TDU2,' and it works flawlessly. You will see others going about their game and jumping in with them is as easy as flashing your lights. Similar to other games, and the original 'TDU,' this feature is a lot of fun and a great way to meet up with like minded gamers. Sure, some jerks might be lurking the streets, but I found my overall experience to be highly positive, something you can't say about every online game.


4 Squared
The core of 'TDU2' is broken down into four categories that collectively further your progression. The first one is competition -- the racing, the championship trophies, duels, multiplayer challenges and so on. You know... the fun stuff. The second is a collection aspect, which take it or leave it, is a big draw for a lot of gamers. However, this doesn't stick to just cars, it also branches out to houses, clothing, car decals, haircuts and cosmetic operations! Yes, cosmetic operations in a racing game, go figure?! Next category is discovery, a no-brainer and a solid inclusion. This ranges from simply finding roads to treasures, unique photographs and events.

Additionally, there is a social aspect that covers you players standing in the community via co-op challenges, online club challenges, cop chases, playing and inviting friends to your home, etc... some gamers will appreciated this feature in 'TDU2,' if you have a strong community of gamers. I would hate to be a “completest gamer” and own this game. It's a whooper that requires not just time on your hand, but time with lots of friends too, something every gamer doesn’t have the luxury of achieving.

Unlimited? almost, this is Fallout huge
Another cool aspect about 'TDU2' is not only in the variety of modes, but in the ability to race on and off-road. Off-road racing is pure fun. Exploring the dirty back roads on Ibiza feels exhilarating, reminding me of the freedom found in the original. Either off roading with a 'Ranger Rover' or on the pavement in a Mustang, there is a lot of diversity in the game space, not to mention... Ibiza is HUGE! Like gargantuan huge... like you're never going to find everything, it's that big. In numbers the new game space has 3290km of roads to explore, which doubles the original that clocked in at 1600km. So if you like exploration and just muddling around every inch of maps, then 'TDU2' is your four wheeled 'Fallout,' and pssssh... there is more than one island.

Mismatched production
The audio is a real mismatch here with some “ok” sounded vehicle reproductions then right over to some spotty/questionable environmental sounds like driving on certain terrain or hitting objects in the game space. Even the voice over talent is really lacking a punch with an just below average performance from most of the talent. Lastly continuing this is the audio that also seems really lacking compared to the first game. 'TDU2' doesn't really thump like it should have. It could be that I'm used to all the licensed music racers, or that, it really has a boring soundtrack (aside from a few tracks.) This might be a good one to have your iPod on standby.

Graphically, 'TDU2' stands out more than its audio, but still I expected more. From points of good and bad, 'TDU2' hovers in average. This includes the models (some are better than others,) however, a point has to be given for including interior views, something that helps make or break a racing game for many "racing wheeled" gamers. Other areas like the environments are lifeless and dull (ie no pedestrians.) Brown, gray and green doesn't represent the beauty of this island, and after a while cruising the streets feels drab. Additionally, damage is included, but it is only cosmetic (sadface) and the world has some oddly implemented objects like shrubs that become an immoveable object. Still, 'TDU2' gets an above average score, but I can help to think, it could have been better.


The big bad bully!
Finally, the artificial intelligence in 'Unlimited 2' isn't the stuff grand competition is made of. The A.I. opponents can easily be bullied off the road, making it easy to win, if you want to resort to cheap tricks. Now this the ease of victory also weighs in how much road assistance depend on, but its on in how you want to race. The biggest challenge is working with the ongoing driving rewards that are increased when you drive recklessly on the streets. Near misses, high speeds, and police chases will also boost your multiplier, the trick, don't hit anything. This makes exploration a lot more interesting by earning loot as you drive, because really the environments are not much to look at. Off-roading is the best way to keep the multipliers rollings, keep that pedal down and earn enough extra cash for that special haircut. Ah, 'TDU2,' you're an interesting fellow.

Eden Games innovative spirit might have got the best of them as 'Test Drive Unlimited 2' stays true to its “unlimited” mindset, but wavers in its execution, which ends up feeling more like “semi-unlimited.” While stacked full of options and endless hours of seamless online/offline racing, it is ultimately underwhelming, and fails to live up to our high expectations. 'Test Drive Unlimited 2' is solid in many regards, but as a whole, it's missing a few links.

Still, I can suggest 'TDU2' for racing fans who are looking for a little more. In this regard, “a little more,” you will be kept busy exploring the ups and downs of 'TDU2' endless world. On the other side, if you want a serious racer, 'TDU2' isn't going to give you that gratification that other racing titles can provide. Pick and choose em' – renting is a good option, and while I'm a dishearten in the finished product, Eden can still put this one into the next gear and focus 'TDU3' into the ultimate mixed racer it can be.

  • great online features, easy to use, flawlessly implemented
  • the game space is HUGE!!
  • off-road racing adds some much needed spice and is fun!
  • social aspects might tickle your fancy
  • tries its best to inject some personality
  • ying yang, lots of detail, then a total lack of it
  • the A.I. can easily be bullied
  • car handling is all over the map
  • too unfocused, crock-pot of good and bad ideas and execution
  • city is lifeless
  • audio is nothing special
  • beware the car wash, it's creepy
Quote: "Eden Games innovative spirit might have got the best of them as 'Test Drive Unlimited 2' stays true to its “unlimited” mindset, but wavers in its execution, which ends up feeling more like “semi-unlimited.”"
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 02.25.11

Similar Games: Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (8.0) | Test Drive Unlimited (8.5)


Test Drive Unlimited 2


Eden Games


US Release
February 2011


PS3, X360

Players 1
Online MP 2-8
HD 720p-1080p
5.1 surround
D/L Content