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As Real As it Gets – A First Look at Test Drive Unlimited

Posted Wed, Jun 16, 2010 by B. de la Durantaye

Arguably the most important aspect of a multiplayer world is its immersion. If the details aren’t there, then the world will never captivate you the way most successful online worlds do. Test Drive Unlimited 2 is immersion in a box.

test drive unlimited 2 picture
This car is out of my pay grade.
I was walked through a 30 minute hands on impression today with Atari, and they’ve mastered the art of immersion in their upcoming MOOR (Massively Open Online Racing) game. While certainly picking up on the spirit of the first Test Drive Unlimited, the world in which players will be gaming is wide open. There are a few new things too.

First, the game now supports first person view in avatar mode. While this may not seem like a big deal, the immersion of this simple mechanic is incredible. We started the demo in a car show room. Beside me was another member of the press playing at another console. I turned to his avatar and began waving. We then walked around the show room floor, checking out the cool cars available for purchase. From the Aston Marton DBS to the Pagani Zonda Cinque, there were some pretty impressive cars. And they’re all fully and completely up to factory specs.

test drive unlimited 2 steering picture
Just check out that detail.
I wanted a closer look at the Zonda, so I approached the car, and I was told by Atari to go ahead and open the door. I did so, and stepped in. Now, keep in mind this was all done in first person view, and the experience was persistent. I sat down in the leather seats and turned my head around to check out the interior of the car. It was as close to the real thing as I’m likely to see. The other press member beside me decided to check it out too, so I watched as he approached the car and got in the seat next to me. The experience was nothing short of wonderfully captivating.

This sort of socializing and exploring/examining can happen in the race world too. Ready to race against your buds? Well, get out of your cars at the starting line, and check out each other’s cars. Hell, get into your frend’s car to check it out if you like.

The cars, of course, can be customized as well. Paint jobs are as accurate as buying the real thing as they’re only available in their proper factory colors. Some have multiple colors available, but they’ll cost more, as they would in the real world.

The racing aspect of the game offers what one would expect from the Test Drive franchise. There are various modes of play, and you can progress your character based on your playstyle. You won’t ever need to play the types of races you don’t enjoy, and you can customize your character accordingly.

test drive unlimited 2 picture
Race time!
The experience, as a whole, is as immersive as it gets. From the stunning accuracy of the cars to the simple act of walking around the showroom floor, this is as real as it gets. The game will also be “always live.” That is to say, the content updates and are automatic, and the transition between offline and online content is seamless.

Best of all, there are no monthly subscription fees and no online store. The game is scheduled for release September 21, 2010 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Windows.

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