Atari = Quantity, not Quality
Atari and Eden Games brings you the next instalment of the Test Drive Unlimited series. Looking back to the first, it featured only 1 island, Oahu, which returns for the second game. However, Eden Games have also added another the island of Ibiza to the game, and this is where most of the game is set. However, the key part is that all the big money missions are all on Oahu. On Ibiza, you would be lucky to get a $10,000 prize for a mission. On Oahu, you can easily find a $50,000 prize, for taking someone’s car to the garage.
Although the minimum specs say you need a 2.2GHz Dual-Core Processor, 2GB RAM and at least a Nvidia 8800, the game doesn’t feel right when played with those specs. I’ve played this game for nearly 2 months now, with a 2.7GHz Dual-Core, 2GB RAM and a Nvidia 9200, and it lags so much. The maximum FPS I could get was about 14 FPS, which for a high-paced racing game, its never good. However, I continue to play it.
First impressions weren’t exactly strong. I plugged in my wheel and press the pedal…nothing. Pressed the other pedal, nothing. Turned the wheel, nothing. I go into the controls, and tried to detect my Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Experience wheel, and nothing. I had forgot about mapping the keys. So I played the game without my wheel for a few days. Very inaccurate. Then, I went and mapped the keys and it worked. Great. However, the wheel settings needed tweaking to get the right balance. Although the game only supports Logitech wheels, and a few others, automatically, nearly every wheel would be able to have keys mapped to the game.
TDU2 is Atari’s version of NFS Underground 2
The world size is nothing to what I have experienced before. The world has 1500 miles of road for all the islands, but there are no invisible walls preventing you from going somewhere. The whole world is drivable, even off-road, through forests on beaches. Amazing. They have also added Dirt tracks to the game, with the introduction of many SUVs. The B3/4 classes are for offroad, but B4 isn’t very good offroad, more for using on the road at a cruise. The Dirt tracks make up nearly half of the roads in the game. They are great for rallying with friends, but they do get very tight when someone is coming the opposite direction on the Coast Dirt track in South Ibiza.
In the game, there are 4 areas to level up as a driver. Discovery, Competition, Collection and Social, each worth 25% of your overall level. The Discovery mode is all about taking photos and driving on roads to unlock them. The Competition is for instant challenges with other online players and actual racing cups. Collection keeps tracks of the cars, hairstyles, clothing and plastic surgery you’ve bought, making it feel more like The Sims than a racer. Then there is Social. At 25%, its a terrible idea. When online, if players leave the game (which many have), it means players can’t do as much to build the social level. When you are in clubs, which were added for the game, and many players just stop playing TDU2, and the president doesn’t get told, online players can’t join the club, as the president sometimes thinks that the person still plays. With an emphasis on driving alone even by mistake, the game has turned into a cruising game, not a racer. The whole social aspect failed completely.
The clubs that have been added are a very good idea, for a popular game. When TDU2 first came out, I started a club and we were able to level up in a few days. Once the levelling had happened, we had bought the 2 cars available at that level, a Weismann and the Lotus 2-eleven. At level 3, the Ferrari FXX and Gumpert Apollo become available. However, so many people want to be a president, that there is 3100 clubs, and a lot only have 1-3 members, and you need at least 2 members online to race other clubs to level. The Club-vs-Club races were good at the beginning, but now no clubs do them anymore, so clubs have stopped gaining XP to level. It took me about 8 minutes one time to find another club to race, and that was with all settings set to anything.
So, TDU2 focuses on Quantity of the World, and not Quality. If they had only used Ibiza, but made it very good quality, the game would be good. TDU2 is Atari’s version of NFS Underground 2. Because NFSU2 had a open world.. Instant challenges are in NFSU2. Tuning/paint shops are in NFSU2. However, TDU2 wants to be in the middle of the arcade driving of NFS, and Simulation driving of Forza or GT5, and it doesn’t work. The gameplay is good when you have a friend online, but boring on your own. Graphics are good, but no where near as good as GT5, even with graphics on very high. Sound improvements from the previous game is brilliant, although most of the Aston Martin’s sound exactly the same. So, a total of 7 for TDU2 on PC.
The Bad: High speced PC needed; Better with a controller/wheel; 4 Activation limit for a CD