We will admit that when we first heard that Test Drive was going to be making an appearance on the XBox 360, we not only cringed, we ran away. Images started scattering out and details were revealed, and once we started to give this game a chance we actually became a little excited about this ambitious title. Rather than a rehash, Test Drive: Unlimited is an entirely new game that is going to be very different to its predecessors.
The game takes place in Hawaii (what better place) and there is more than 1,000 kilometres of track. All of the data is streamed off the disk entirely, so there is no loading at all. Apparently, navigating through the entire 1000 kilometres will take over five hours, but we're a little dubious of this figure for now.
Your character not only drives in Hawaii, he lives in Hawaii. There are a total of sixty-four homes in the game for your perusal, which should offer plenty of choice. Purchasing a house is as simple as going to one that's for sale and forking over the cash.
Of course you can't exactly buy a house without any cash, and this is where the racing comes in. Challenges will show up on your map, and these include things such as delivery missions, solo races and multi car challenges. We haven't heard much about exactly what race types there will be, but we're sure there will be a fairly vast range.
Whilst the single player aspect of the game seems like it is shaping up nicely, it is the multiplayer that has received a lot of effort. The game is fully Xbox Live aware, which means that as your travelling along the 1,000 kilometres of road you just may bump into someone on Xbox Live. It is possible to challenge someone instantly in the game, and the race starts within ten seconds. You have full customisation over the race including setting your own start and end points. If the game included every car then the road would be a bit like New York, so the game allows you to filter racers according to people on your friends list or just people of a relative skill to you.
The range of cars on offer is a little disappointing though. In total there are about thirty cars that we know of appearing in the game. Unlike Gran Turismo there are no real slow vehicles, and some of the cars include the Lamborghini Murcielago Barchetta and the Dodge Viper SRT-10. It is clear from the car roster that this game is aiming for style and speed, rather than making you work your way up. We still hope that more cars are included, just so there is more element of choice, or we might get a little tired of seeing the same car on Xbox Live.
The attention to detail is really where this game differentiates itself from other racers. Each vehicle will include an interior view (this may explain the lowered vehicle count) as well as power windows. It is also possible to see the back of your car. If you want to tune your car then you need to actually drive to a dealer, rather than just select a part; this is an ambitious ask though, as driving around could just get a bit boring after awhile.
With so many racing games already set for the XBox 360 it is clear that Test Drive Unlimited really needs to do something different to separate itself from the pack. Atari really are trying to do something different with Test Drive Unlimited, we're still a little skeptical, but maybe we should give the game more of a chance before making judgments. Maybe you shouldn't judge a game by its name?