|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Eden Games|
|Release: February 8, 2011|
|Players: 1, 2-12 (online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||lyrics, mildly suggestive themes, simulated gambling|
But of course, no matter how innovative the progression system, vast the in-game world, or plentiful the online modes, an automotive title isn't worth its virtual pavement if the driving experience isn't up to par. Although Test Drive: Unlimited 2 still straddles the line between simulation and arcade-style racing rather finely, the mechanics here are a lot more streamlined than they were previously. The cars still ramp up in speed at a ridiculous level, but you'll have to pay close attention to steering mechanics and drifting, especially on higher-end vehicles if you want to avoid damage and poor completion times. There is a bit of a learning curve to the driving mechanics in Test Drive: Unlimited 2, but once you get the hang of it, the mixture between the automotive genre's two factions feels natural.
Unfortunately, despite all these good elements, there is one glaring issue in Test Drive: Unlimited 2 that even the biggest fan of the series will notice almost immediately: the lack of production value. Mediocre animation, poor voice overs for the in-game characters (of which there are many), and a lack of detail on many of the game's cars makes this game look and sound like it belongs in the bargain bin. The lack of attention to these matters is especially disheartening considering this title had such great stuff under the hood. The only thing about the game that really looks like it was given the proper amount of care was the tropical setting, which does feature nice detail overall. However, in the automotive genre, you have to make the cars look good, and with a few notable exceptions, Test Drive: Unlimited 2 falls flat in that regard.
Still, if you can get past the poor production values, there is a lot to love about Test Drive: Unlimited 2. It is a different kind of automotive game, and if you are looking for super-tight controls or an over-the-top arcade experience, you won't find it here. However, if you are looking for a unique take on a genre that has far too many conventions, this title should fit the bill rather nicely. Instead of borrowing from other, more popular franchises, Test Drive: Unlimited 2 takes some risks with their gameplay format, and for the most part, their gamble pays off.
If you like exploring an open world, or are just looking for a change of pace with your automotive games, Test Drive: Unlimited 2 will get your motor running. Just don't expect to come out any time soon!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer