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Test Drive Unlimited 2 Review

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Review

Publisher: Atari
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
UK Price (as reviewed): £37.88 (inc vat)
US Price (as reviewed): $46.89 (ex tax)

There's no point in skirting around the issue - Test Drive Unlimited 2 feels like an unfinished game. It’s a shame really, because we’re almost certain there's a fun game deep down in there somewhere. It’s just that you never get to see it, as it's buried under a thick veneer of poor graphics, dodgy handling and a ludicrously hammy script.

The problems are apparent right from the very start, as the very first person you interact with on screen looks and moves like a robotic drag act from a hellish future red light district. She doesn’t sound much better either. In fact, the only part of her body that shows any life at all are her breasts, which swish and sway around like they have a life of their own. In a way, this one character acts as an analogue for the rest of the game; fine details have been handled before the basics have been sorted.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Review
The cars look great but handle like three-wheeled shopping trolleys

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the vehicles that you spend most of the game driving. The cars are beautifully rendered and modelled both inside and out, but the handling is seriously lacking; the driving simply doesn’t have any feel or spark to it.

Four-wheel-drive cars such as Range Rovers drift as easily as front-wheel-drive hatch backs, and there rarely seems to be any consistency in the way a car handles or feels. Sometimes you’ll perform the perfect power slide, while at other times the car will stubbornly refuse to do anything remotely exciting.

This leaves you feeling less than involved in the entire experience of racing or driving. If you do pull off a perfect drift, then you’re never quite sure if that was a piece of skill on your part or just the car playing ball for once. What makes this worse still is the dull, monotonous engine and tyre sounds that each car generates, which make it impossible to judge how close the car is to the edge.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Review
The sound effect when cars collide sounds like someone crumpling up a brown paper bag

Compare this to a game such as Dirt 2, which immerses you in the action via the judgements you’re making about a given corner or overtake, based on the sounds made by your tyres as they struggle to find grip on the loose gravel.

Even the most powerful supercars feel like they're accelerating sluggishly, with gear changes seeming to take an age, so you only get any sense of speed when you’re up to frankly ludicrous speeds. Reaching these speeds is a double-edged sword too, as one of the side effects of reaching the top end of your speedometer is choppy framerates.

The only softener on the experience is the environment in which you're driving around - the sunny island of Ibiza, mainly. The game roams around the island, and at times the views can be amazing, especially when the sun is up. There are bugbears here too, however; trees appear suddenly on the horizon, and many of the environments and buildings have more than a whiff of copy/paste about them too.