Ibiza Uncovered: Test Drive Unlimited 2

By John Walker on May 4th, 2010 at 10:02 am.

Driving into a supernova requires a large sunblind.

News of Test Drive Unlimited 2 has caught me by surprise, despite its having been announced in March. I’m so good at my job. The original, released on PC in 2007, was an unfairly overlooked driving game set on the Hawaiian island Oʻahu, with 1,000 miles of roads to race about on. What made it so interesting was the population of this island: other players. It was so casual about being an MMO – not shouting and screaming about it, but rather just letting you take part in the many races available, and then on a whim see another car coming toward you, flash your lights at it, and then begin a frenzied race with them for glory. And for money. So much money. Below is the first-look trailer of the sequel, along with Game Trailers’ interview with senior producer, Nour Polloni.

Rather than a Hawaiian island, Test Drive Unlimited 2 (is that title tautological/oxymoronic? I can’t decide) is set on the thumping hellhole of Ibiza. Wait, sorry, the beautiful Mediterranean island of Ibiza. (Yes, of course, I know that the bit the Brits take over is not representative of the whole island.) Right up until you unlock the airport, when you can fly to Hawaii!

If you’re anything like me, and I hope to all that’s pure that you’re not, the first thing you do in a driving game is see if you can get off the track and explore the nearby scenery, ideally taking out half the viewing crowd on your way. TDU doesn’t have crowds, but it did let you go wherever you wanted. TDU2 acknowledges this desire, and has accordingly added off-road vehicles for rebellious types who can’t agree with the direction a road has decided for them.

Inevitably the MMO features are being more emphasised here. It’s probably not a bad thing – you could almost forget it was there in the original, and it was a mighty fine feature. This time there’s more customisation, and what looks like a simulacrum of social networking to keep in touch with other players. There’s also co-op features, and of course pissing off the po-po.

And once again it really is all about the accruing of bigger and better stuff. Gaining new cars, new houses, and all the other empty, meaningless Capitalist lies that we use to try to fill the holes inside us will measure progress, along with more emphasis on being in clubs with other players, and taking part in the multiplayer aspects. Oh, and looking at the videos it looks absolutely beautiful.

It’s due out this Autumn, and this time on PC and consoles simultaneously (unless they pull that old chestnut and delay the PC version). It’s being published by Atari (and not Namco Bandai). Atari is like some sort of publishing hydra – no matter how many times its head is sold or rescued by another publisher, it seems to grow another one. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on this – the first game was really fantastic (here’s Alec’s review of it) and didn’t get nearly enough attention. Here’s some footage:

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30 Comments »

  1. Jason says:

    This is still probably my favorite racing game. I hope 2 lives up its predecessor.

    • Sweedums says:

      yeah I’ll second that… my only issue with it now is that after playing games like Dirt, Grid and Dirt 2 so much, i just cant stand the driving physics in TDU anymore… they are so sluggish in comparison. Back when it was the only driving game i really played at the time, i loved it and got used to it, I just hope TDU2 has really nice driving, and of course, another round-the-island epic race

  2. devlocke says:

    The one comment on Alec’s review is a real blast from the past. And I think his ’07 rig (with 512MB of RAM? That can’t be right…) has a higher clock-speed than my current machine.

  3. aldo says:

    I had to return TUD because of a steering-wheel related bug (i.e. using a steering wheel broke it). which is a tremendous shame, so hopefully this one is better :)

  4. Daniel Rivas says:

    I can’t help feeling that trailer would have been better with the original version of the Ellie Goulding track. The remix is a bit muddy, to my ears.

    Anyway, cars that drive fast. Whoo.

    • Skusey says:

      It was the Jakwob remix if anyone was wondering. Quite a poor edit of it though.

  5. Player1 says:

    The first trailer lost me when it showed those wannabe-model-type people dancing spasticly. I do look like a model too, but I dance far better. I sense facebookishness and simsness in this title…

  6. Spacewalk says:

    Wealth Sim Unlimited 2

  7. simon says:

    Want, but with caveats. From the linked videos:

    I think it’s a DB9 or a Vantage, the way it spins down the road is inaccurate, there would be some grip before the tyres let go meaning the car would not continue to spin in a straight line down the road, it would veer to the right and end up in the grass.

    Where the car taking a fast corner clips the kerb and mounts the pavement, and continues like the kerb wasn’t there? That car should have ended up in the trees on the other side of the road. You can’t just clip kerbs at speed and continue like nothing happened. Believe me, I have the shattered collarbone to prove it (from a bike, but still).

    I know it’s just a game, but it’s a driving game, and realistic handling if not controls is the order of the day. Anything that breaks the realism breaks the immersion. Talking of realism . . .

    I personally prefer a realistic damage model, not just scuff marks on the textures. If damage makes your ride undriveable then you should drive more betterer. I understand that marques refuse licences to games that cast their product in less than favourable light, but seriously, what do they expect to happen when you rear-end a truck at 200kph?

    I really want this game to be like, totally super awesome, ‘cos I liked the first one so much, but I will be much less impressed unless these points are addressed.

    • mickiscoole says:

      Isn’t it a DBS?

    • Larington says:

      To be fair they could still be working on all of that stuff at the moment, there’s a few more months before it hits the deadline and goes gold master so hopefully they will be taking a fine tooth comb to all the handling details. I wouldn’t be able to notice such things myself, not conciously anyway, but I expect my subconcious would pick up on that sort of thing, it’s cleverer than my concious brain.

  8. sonofsanta says:

    This is excellent news. Very few people seem to share my love for the original, and it’s one of my favourite racing games ever (one of the few I’ve liked, actually). Just realistic enough to be satisfying and make you feel pro, without being too frustrating and annoying. Plus it ticked all the lizard-brain boxes for collecting cool shit, and the structure of different classes to let you play with all the different levels of stuff was great – it stopped it being a race to the absolute best, and let you use a wide range of cars.

    That whole-island-race was a pain, though. Took ages.

    Colour me happy though!

  9. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Nour Polloni was also 2008′s Alone in the Dark producer.

    Just saying.

  10. Larington says:

    WANT – Loved the original, re-installed it a few times since its original release. Glad to see they are taking it forward from the original in all the right ways.

  11. mickiscoole says:

    Whilst the game was great, I remember there were a whole lot of annoyances, especially related to online/offline functionality.

    When I first got the game, my internet connection was having troubles, and there was a choice between always online and always offline profiles. I selected offline as I could then play the game instantly.
    Then when I got my internet back I found that I couldn’t migrate from offline to online, that I would have to start again.

  12. Caleb says:

    That song is really enjoyable, anyone know the source of it? Really big props if it is an original song.

    • phuzz says:

      @Caleb It’s a remix of Under the Sheets by Ellie Goulding, but I don’t recognise the mix, nice and dark though isn’t it?
      (edit Skusey upthread says it’s remixed by Jakwob)

  13. cqdemal says:

    I’ve spent about 1,200 hours on the original and I’m still playing it pretty regularly today. This is already my game of the year.

  14. Wulf says:

    Getting off the track and exploring is the thing I do first in a driving game, too, to see if those invisible walls will fall and just let me explore, but they so rarely do. This is one of the reasons I loved Burnout: Paradise City. I didn’t really have to race all the time, I could just go and drive around a bit when I felt like it, and doing so was enjoyable for the scenery and the signs to explode with one’s seemingly indestructible car. There were true joys in that. What can I tell you? I’m an explorer borne, I can’t get away from it, I exist and therefore I explore.

    Interestingly and perhaps worryingly I completely overlooked Test Drive, it isn’t in my memory and I’m not sure whether I overlooked it or whether I just didn’t know about it. Maybe I read a lacklustre review and then just forgot about it? I honestly don’t know. I see it’s available on the Atari store though, and I’m going to be looking at some YouTube videos later to see what it offers, but there are a lot of interesting heads here in RPS, with helpfully complex thoughts, so I’m going to plumb that resource by asking what you, the person reading, thinks of Test Drive.

    What do you think of Test Drive? How does it compare to the off-roady, roaming, explorey fun of Burnout Paradise or (better yet) FUEL? How much freedom does it offer? Considering that exploration is my wont, should I be perhaps even fiercely interest in this game? If you’ve played it, you tell me!

    • Marcin says:

      Burnout is offroady, roaming explorey? That’s not the impression I got – Paradise city seemed very sterile and empty of purpose until you got to a race marker. Not to mention it’s all well … city. I returned it after a week of trying to like it :/ I also couldn’t ever get to like the driving model, but that’s another issue.

      TDU maps the actual island of Oahu so you get bits where there are miles of uninterrupted desert (with the occasional human player flashing by), dense urban areas with actual city street layouts, or windy, narrow mountain roads. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but I have a feeling that the fact that the road layout was shaped by “natural” progression somehow makes the driving experience more organic.

      The game should be very cheap now. Grab it, turn off all assists (it’s really arcadey otherwise) and enjoy.

    • Wulf says:

      @Marcin

      There were lots of secrets in Paradise City which rewarded those that roamed. It certainly wasn’t offroady (that was at FUEL), but it was very roamy, and there was a lot to discover and see. There were also some out-of-the-way jumps that–from what I’ve seen–the majority of players just don’t know about. It’s there, you just have to dig more for it. It’s easy to look at the surface though and see only a sterile racer, but optionally it does reward explorers.

    • cqdemal says:

      @ Wulf

      TDU doesn’t offer exploration in the literal sense of the word. While there are hidden challenges with considerable cash rewards sprinkled around the map, most of the time you’re just chilling out. 99% of my time in TDU is spent listening to songs I like while cruising long distances, either alone or with 2-4 friends.

      It is nothing like Burnout Paradise. Burnout is more of a game, but I couldn’t even go past the 30-hour mark in that game. As I said in another comment in this thread, TDU has lasted me well over 1,000 hours (and counting).

      TDU isn’t about jumps. It’s not about secrets. It’s not about lap times. It’s, in my opinion, not even about racing. It is the world’s biggest, most interactive screensaver and the absolute best (digital) place to chill out in.

  15. Nemon says:

    Well, TDU with Eyefinity and a GT wheel and pedal set… I probably don’t have to get out of the house this winter. Except for work. And maybe Christmas.

  16. Hurion says:

    Sorry, first thing I do in a racing game is to see if I can launch over stuff.

  17. IvanHoeHo says:

    The impression I got from the brief trailers was that the driving model feels really floaty; and if that proves to be true, it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to fix such a fundamental mechanic so late in the cycle. (should probably check out the first one first, tho…)

    • ascagnel says:

      The first was floaty as hell. It got better if you turned all the driving aids off, though.

      Apparently Atari is selling it as a download for $20. And you can download it for 30 days. You can order a disc for $10. Screw Atari.

  18. Geoff says:

    Is Test Drive Unlimited Online only then? I have it on my list of games to get but never realized this could be the case. How interseting cqdemal to call it ‘the world’s biggest, most interactive screensaver and the absolute best (digital) place to chill out in’

    really interesting to hear that. thanks for concreting my desire to buy it.

  19. phanell says:

    the name of the track is “phonat-ghetto burnin”

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  21. Ibiza says:

    The game is fine. But I live in Ibiza and its roads are not like the game. The trees are unreal and the streets do not exist. The worst thing is that we now have running crazy through the streets of Ibiza as the game itself.