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Old 01-09-2008, 10:32 PM   #1391
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,120
Test Drive Unlimited
9/10
Xbox 360


This game is hard to find!

If you don't like racing games, it is unlikely that you're even reading this. Why do I like racing games so much? Well, for one they're not trying to be epic movies like just about every other damn game released these days. Also they're not quite sports games, at least not the racing games I enjoy, and certainly not this one. I really enjoy the non-epic gameplay, and this game is about as "casual" as you can get. It has a free-roaming environment (the island of Oahu in Hawaii) and you can tackle challenges at your leisure. It has well over a thousand miles worth of road and buttloads of challenges. If you are looking for a game with lots to do, here it is.


You can choose an event by simply driving up to the blue icon and pressing A.

Story: 1/10
Not much here, thankfully. You fly into Honolulu after choosing your character, buy a house and a car. From there it is your mission in life to drive and acquire as many vehicles and homes as possible. It's all about the greed. Greed is good. What else in life do you need besides greed?


You can also choose an event by using the map and warping straight to it at any
time. Events don't show up until you've driven by the street they start on or unlock
a new skill level, so you may have to drive to an event using your GPS, but doing so
may unlock even more events on the way that you weren't aware of!


Graphics: 8/10
The game is based on a real location, and while many streets are likely similar to the real thing, it is obvious that not everything is or can be represented (for example, I haven't seen any McDonald's anywhere on the island). Still, it feels like you are in a real location with tons of roads going everywhere. Most of the textures are great, and the time of day changes, though it never becomes nighttime. I can live with that since that is all superficial in this type of game any way. The game runs at a near-constant 30fps and drops an occasional frame here and there. I don't like frame-droppage, but the graphics are good enough and the fact that it really never loads as you are driving around make the sacrifice worth it. There isn't any of the typical Xbox360 v-sync tearing. It's not as smooth as Burnout: Paradise, but it sure looks a lot better (with the exception of the crashes, of course). There are many real cars and bikes in the game, and they are all great representations of the real thing. No car damage, but then again that makes me feel invincible in the free roaming parts and I don't have to worry about something lame like fixing my car. Vehicles that you hit definitely become damaged.


Me in my Saturn Sky. I didn't know Saturn made decent-looking cars.

Sound: 5/10
Not a whole lot going on here. The game defaults to car engine noise, which is fine by me. There are some music tracks built in, and it can be fun running from the cops while Flight of the Bumblebee plays loudly. You can also play the music tracks you have ripped to the 360 hard drive as well. Most of the cars sound different and the sound changes after you get them tuned up as well. The wrecks sound pretty cool as well. There are only a few voices in the game, mostly the police dispatch and hitchhikers. Dolby Digital surround sound is utilized as things happen behind and around you. Nothing too special here, about what you'd expect.


Driving down one of the many freeways. Hawaii sure seems beautiful!
Those same trees and the exact leaves on them exist in real life!


Gameplay: 9/10
I tell ya, I just can't stop playing this game! I keep coming back to it again and again despite getting newer games and even a newer game system since I started playing it. There's just so much to do! You make money by completing events, of course, and then use that money to buy more cars and more homes. Each home can only hold so many cars, but there are some homes which have a 10-car garage! There are tons upon tons of cars to collect, and many events are restricted to a certain brand of car or even a certain model! Sounds like a complete pain in the ass, but it's actually fun trying to collect all of that stuff. Typical events include racing against the clock, racing against evil foes, trying to get the highest average speed, transporting illegal goods from point A to point B in a certain amount of time without attracting the cops (or you will have to pay for the goods), transporting hitchhikers and models who are all in a hotshit hurry and more. Speaking of the models, if you pull up in a Ferrari, she may refuse to get in to your car because she doesn't want to be seen in such a clunker. Pull up in a Saturn and the same model is all too happy to get in! Not all models are like that, only some. You get coupons to buy new clothes and crap like that from the models and hitchhikers to use in your character customization room. It's only worth it to get out of the crap clothes you start the game with, but other than that I just do it for fun. All other events reward you with cash (which comes out of your Xbox360 drive).


You can eventually buy motorcycles as well, and though they seem weird
at first, they are actually pretty damn fun! The police don't care if you
drive the wrong way or speed... only if you bump into other cars.


The game also features a massively open online mode which I tried out for a few days. You can see other online players driving around at random, and if you flash your lights at them (or they you) you can initiate a race and choose any starting and ending point anywhere on the map if the other person or persons accept. You can also select any online match on the map and it will throw you into a lobby where multiple people race. There are also Diners and whatnot where you can create your own races and wait for people to join, etc. The online action works well, but it's not really for me. I do like seeing everyone drive around, though, and listen to them cuss amongst themselves through my sound system (I refuse to wear the nerd headset). Even offline you'll see random cars with names over them driving around. You can flash your lights and race them as well, but they are not online players. The island is incredibly large and there is tons of exploration to do. Yes, you can even drive to Pearl Harbor. I am at Champion level which is the top, and I still haven't beaten every event yet... only a little over half. I want to beat everything. This game is just too addictive!


Straight ahead is a "top model" who you can pick up and give a ride to.
You can also give her a ride in your car. LOLOL at my awesome humor!



Ford Mustang vs random NPC compact car.
Winner = Ford Mustang.


Wrap up:
A truly great game that got overlooked at retail. This game also exists for the PS2 and PSP, but those probably look like ass since their graphics suck compared to the 360. If you don't have a 360 you might as well pick up one of those if you can find it, though everyone will think you are a loser for not having the best version. This game rocks, and I anticipate I'll be playing it for a long time to come!
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