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"Test Drive: Unlimited"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Test Drive Unlimited'.
Sat 21/10/06 at 17:51
Regular
Posts: 224
The open road, the dusty highway. Here today and gone tomorrow in a cloud of expensive exhaust fumes and burnt rubber. The boyish fantasy of the road trip never tires, no pun intended. Re-creating this dream has been the holy grail of pad-wielding petrolheads for many years, but there have been few games to do the vanishing point justice. The GTA's and their ilk are ill-equipped to deliver the Sunday driver experience; too focused on the selling points of ultra violence, loose women and bling to ever let players relax. Midnight Club and NFS: Most Wanted offer free-roaming cityscapes; tight, busy environments with lots to see and do, but nowhere you'd truly want to go.

Go. Just go. Just for the pure pleasure of driving somewhere, if only to see where one road ends and another leads. To look out on the HD ocean, feel the 5.1 wind in your hair and the digital wheeze of the exhaust. And hey, if you pass a fellow Ferrari fanatic on the way, why not go together? Or race there together? And after that, you could stop by the local dealership and gawp at the shiny metal. Or take a trip to the shopping district and buy some new daps. But maybe you just want to race, and that's here too.

Simply put, TDU is the ultimate driving holiday on a disc. A cliché perhaps, but none-the-less true. Your destination, the Hawaiian island of Oahu, features impossibly long roads of every variety from dirt track to 8 lane highway. Lush, verdant greens congress with tarmac greys, all under the sheen of an endless summer sun. But the relaxed atmosphere isn't just a result of an exotic locale; it's in the way the game slowly unfurls. Most games place arbitrary hurdles through which a player must jump to reach the climax. TDU has those hurdles, in the form of single and online multiplayer challenges and you can tackle them anytime you wish; but Oahu also allows enough space for a player to stretch their pedal-legs and just get a feel for the shimmering world around them, albeit from a leather seat.

And what seats. There's around 200 luxury cars and superbikes to be bought, sold, driven and treasured from the world's premier manufacturers. The dream could have ended right here, but thanks to Eden's previous experience in racing (V-Rally, Porsche Unleased), each model exhibits all the fine aesthetic craftmanship, the thunderous engine notes and, most importantly, the notional feel of the real thing. Turn off the intrusive driving aids and you'll marvel at how subtle the handling model really is. It's not as instantly appealing as Ridge Racer 6's exagerated powerslides, nor as intuitive as PGR3's heavily-assisted 'simulation', but it does throw up some important questions about risk versus reward. Namely, that TDU has risks where other racers do not, and they haven't been softened by arcade sensibilities.

The reward is that good driving has, finally, become a consideration in a racing game. Continually gunning the accelerator will more likely see you end up in a ditch than on the road to victory. Similarly, the combination of blind corners and unpredictable traffic will leave you wondering how fast you should go, and when you should go fast. No longer will your eyes be fixed squarely upon your next mark, they'll be scanning the horizon for the next safe opportunity for speed, a gap in oncoming traffic, a distant red light. And that's why TDU's competition doesn't rely on momentary successes or battering opponents; It's in timing, judgement and consistency.

Which brings us neatly to where TDU will set its most important mark: online. Being the first (of many, presumably) MMO racer to market means that Oahu will quickly become a thriving mix of car aficionados and wannabe thrillseekers. In the competitive disciplines, the races, challenges and time trials, the cream will rise to the top. This is where consistently quick but tempered driving will pay dividends,leaving the brattish ballbreakers and bruisers of other Live racers by the wayside. But what of those enjoying the sedate, island life? Their needs will be catered to by group activities: car clubs, trading, customisation and good old cruising.

That's the clear dividing line in TDU, between out-and-out competition and leisurely enjoyment. And yet, both are so accomplished and intrinsically linked that it seems churlish to proffer one over the other. For the traditional gamer, there's a fairly straightforward racing game to enjoy. For the unintiated, a world to explore in the manner they see fit. For those willing to fully exploit what TDU has to offer, it's both racer and dawdler; a conflicting medley of speed and serenity, with healthy dashes of community. But the miracle is not that Eden has managed to sit these two disparate styles together without compromising either. It's that, for now, both diverging audiences can co-habit Oahu in relative harmony. Only time will tell if the dream persists.
Tue 24/10/06 at 03:00
Regular
Posts: 224
I used Word?
Mon 23/10/06 at 18:46
Regular
"Blood on my suit"
Posts: 1,387
Whoa. Thats one heck of a review you got there, you have an editor?:D
Sat 21/10/06 at 17:51
Regular
Posts: 224
The open road, the dusty highway. Here today and gone tomorrow in a cloud of expensive exhaust fumes and burnt rubber. The boyish fantasy of the road trip never tires, no pun intended. Re-creating this dream has been the holy grail of pad-wielding petrolheads for many years, but there have been few games to do the vanishing point justice. The GTA's and their ilk are ill-equipped to deliver the Sunday driver experience; too focused on the selling points of ultra violence, loose women and bling to ever let players relax. Midnight Club and NFS: Most Wanted offer free-roaming cityscapes; tight, busy environments with lots to see and do, but nowhere you'd truly want to go.

Go. Just go. Just for the pure pleasure of driving somewhere, if only to see where one road ends and another leads. To look out on the HD ocean, feel the 5.1 wind in your hair and the digital wheeze of the exhaust. And hey, if you pass a fellow Ferrari fanatic on the way, why not go together? Or race there together? And after that, you could stop by the local dealership and gawp at the shiny metal. Or take a trip to the shopping district and buy some new daps. But maybe you just want to race, and that's here too.

Simply put, TDU is the ultimate driving holiday on a disc. A cliché perhaps, but none-the-less true. Your destination, the Hawaiian island of Oahu, features impossibly long roads of every variety from dirt track to 8 lane highway. Lush, verdant greens congress with tarmac greys, all under the sheen of an endless summer sun. But the relaxed atmosphere isn't just a result of an exotic locale; it's in the way the game slowly unfurls. Most games place arbitrary hurdles through which a player must jump to reach the climax. TDU has those hurdles, in the form of single and online multiplayer challenges and you can tackle them anytime you wish; but Oahu also allows enough space for a player to stretch their pedal-legs and just get a feel for the shimmering world around them, albeit from a leather seat.

And what seats. There's around 200 luxury cars and superbikes to be bought, sold, driven and treasured from the world's premier manufacturers. The dream could have ended right here, but thanks to Eden's previous experience in racing (V-Rally, Porsche Unleased), each model exhibits all the fine aesthetic craftmanship, the thunderous engine notes and, most importantly, the notional feel of the real thing. Turn off the intrusive driving aids and you'll marvel at how subtle the handling model really is. It's not as instantly appealing as Ridge Racer 6's exagerated powerslides, nor as intuitive as PGR3's heavily-assisted 'simulation', but it does throw up some important questions about risk versus reward. Namely, that TDU has risks where other racers do not, and they haven't been softened by arcade sensibilities.

The reward is that good driving has, finally, become a consideration in a racing game. Continually gunning the accelerator will more likely see you end up in a ditch than on the road to victory. Similarly, the combination of blind corners and unpredictable traffic will leave you wondering how fast you should go, and when you should go fast. No longer will your eyes be fixed squarely upon your next mark, they'll be scanning the horizon for the next safe opportunity for speed, a gap in oncoming traffic, a distant red light. And that's why TDU's competition doesn't rely on momentary successes or battering opponents; It's in timing, judgement and consistency.

Which brings us neatly to where TDU will set its most important mark: online. Being the first (of many, presumably) MMO racer to market means that Oahu will quickly become a thriving mix of car aficionados and wannabe thrillseekers. In the competitive disciplines, the races, challenges and time trials, the cream will rise to the top. This is where consistently quick but tempered driving will pay dividends,leaving the brattish ballbreakers and bruisers of other Live racers by the wayside. But what of those enjoying the sedate, island life? Their needs will be catered to by group activities: car clubs, trading, customisation and good old cruising.

That's the clear dividing line in TDU, between out-and-out competition and leisurely enjoyment. And yet, both are so accomplished and intrinsically linked that it seems churlish to proffer one over the other. For the traditional gamer, there's a fairly straightforward racing game to enjoy. For the unintiated, a world to explore in the manner they see fit. For those willing to fully exploit what TDU has to offer, it's both racer and dawdler; a conflicting medley of speed and serenity, with healthy dashes of community. But the miracle is not that Eden has managed to sit these two disparate styles together without compromising either. It's that, for now, both diverging audiences can co-habit Oahu in relative harmony. Only time will tell if the dream persists.

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