Hawaii Racing: Test Drive Unlimited

This one is great! It is very different from every other racer that I've played. They have mapped out Oahu in all its digital glory. Okay... well, the graphics could be tuned up to take advantage of the 360, but the game does look really good. And they have the whole island in here. It will take you at least an hour to circumnavigate the whole thing.

Test Drive: Unlimited is an attempt at an massively multiplayer online racing game ("MMORG"). There are lots of cars to unlock, houses to buy, clothes to purchase, and several hundred races and missions to perform. This is all done very well, with a good progression of gamepoints to score as you're playing the game.

What completely and totally sucks, though, is the difficulty of playing with your friends. Yeah, you read that right. This is an MMORG yet it is practically impossible to play with a friend... and I'm not talking some random Joe, but a person marked on your Xbox Live Friends List. What makes it so hard? At any given point in time, the servers select up to 8 people near you on the island and links you together in your own little pocket universe on the island. 8 random people. No preference whatsoever to the folks on your list. None. Your only hope is to go to some remote location and wait for the server to link you up. You can then do a little trick to lock in your friend so they won't suddenly disappear in a regrouping by the server. But this is hit or miss and can take a while.

But it gets worse. Now that you're all linked up, you pop open the map to see where to go. Say some remote location, or a multiplayer race so you and your buddy can race some opponents. Whoops!! Opening the map disconnects you from other players. Yeah. You spend 15 minutes trying to get sync'd up with your pal, and you cannot touch the map. Fuckin' ludicrous.

Okay... now past the suck part... this game is fun. The driving physics are working towards "realism" rather than "arcade". However, I do find that the cars can do donuts way too easily... like the programmers included angular momentum, but forgot that a tire skidding sideways is a huge source of friction and should slow the spin. In this game, if you try to drift around a corner, then you better have a really good car and be able to hold it in the proper line. The cars are beautiful looking and will they have a little bit of damage modeling. I've put some truly kickass dual-color pearlescent paint on some of my cars. There is a little bit of tunability, but nothing to the extent of the Need for Speed series.

The other night, I linked up with a couple people from the UK, and we simply hit the gas. Just started driving down the highways, with each of us taking a turn defining the lead as we zoomed about the island at high speed. Invariably, one of us would go careening around a corner, lose it, and crash in some horrendous way. The others would slow until the other caught up, and off we went again. Lots of fun with all the open space on the island.

I am hoping they will issue a game patch to fix the friends thing at some point. I just can't see how they could call this an MMORG with the current nastiness. But despite that, I do recommend this game. The openness, the unlocks, the cars, and the modeling of Hawaii... all excellent. And at just $40 for the game, this game is a bargain... it has given me lots of hours of fun.


Vinay said...

Good Post

Anonymous said...

test drive unlimited need to come out for ps3 because i wanna play it bad but not on ps2 becuase i wanna experience those graphics

Anonymous said...

ok dude, i play it alot, and its not hard to find ur friends u just need to go to there server. Its simply when u go into the world map, select players then make it so that it opnly shows ur friends by filtering it. Then when u see your friends little car more ur scroll onto it, then a box should appear press A it puts u on his server. I know its kinda stupid but thats how to do it.

Wendy Ragiste said...

Ever play the original test drive? IT looked great but duller than you can ever imagine. Can't remember if it was an EA game or not

Anonymous said...

i just want to know, in this game can you be able to see friend from different country ?

this game show only UK player (if you in the UK)?or you can see any other countrys player ?

Best girls from Russia said...

This game is a funny sideview racing game like monster truck, but offers the ability to spend money on better cars, parts and repairs. If you can make it to the other side faster then your opponent you win even more money! :)