Atari’s first game for the next gen consoles, Test Drive Unlimited, will mix Gran Turismo style graphics with Need for Speeds addictive gameplay. Packed with over 100 vehicles, one thousand plus miles of open roads, and an abundance of online options, Test Drive: Unlimited is the ultimate online racing experience. The action in Test Drive: Unlimited takes place on the open, diverse roads spanning the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Making full use of Xbox Live online gaming service, racers around the world will challenge others to join them in the virtual paradise of the game’s persistent online racing world. Players can engage in online challenges, and build communities by creating or joining exclusive member clubs to talk, trade cars, and race with other like-minded drivers in one of the most comprehensive online racing experiences to date.
The create-a-character feature works surprisingly well in the game. You create a racer who will be your avatar throughout. There are a huge assortment of accessories for your racing avatar, such as sun glasses, jackets, pants, shirts, and shoes – all of which can be purchased with race winnings. So you can pimp yourself up as well as the cars! All of these can be updated over Xbox Live, and they can be swapped out or discarded at any time. Your avatar stores his clothing winnings in a large walk-in closet, whereas the cars are displayed in a massive showroom garage. This makes the cars look gorgeous. You’ve got Astom Martins next to Ferarri’s along with your bikes all lined up in a row. You can walk in and around the vehicles, get in them, open windows, switch on the radio, see the fabulously detailed interiors, test drive any one of them, or simply have a good look around them. “Test Drive: Unlimited is a powerful next generation racing title that draws upon the amazing online capabilities of Xbox 360 and offers a fantastic gaming experience,” says Marc Metis, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Atari Inc. “Test Drive: Unlimited pushes the boundaries of racing in video games, delivering an experience that only Xbox 360 will offer.” That experience sure looks tasty! You can drive down a road and race a Lamborghini, then further down the road race a Ducati all driven (or ridden) by real people.
Players can build collections of the most sophisticated and fastest licensed cars in the world from manufacturers including Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Audi, Lotus, Dodge, Pagani, TVR, Jaguar and many more. All the vehicles in the game are rendered to mirror their real-world counterparts. The cars are rendered so well they look immediately real, you could almost reach out and touch them. Drivers can customize their vehicles with parts and accessories from the actual manufacturers’ catalogues to suit their individual tastes and needs. Gamers can create challenges or races from more than 50 game rules and settings. Online competitions and tournaments can be held between club members or between different clubs. Division-based rankings will help separate the top drivers from the casual car enthusiasts, helping reinforce the status of Test Drive: Unlimited as the only complete online driving experience.
The Xbox 360 will have a lot of racing games in its line up and this can only be a good thing. It’s great to see so many top quality titles arriving so quickly for a new console, but only time will tell whether this game can rival the likes of Ridge Racer 6, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Place your bets now.