Updated Tue, Mar 01, 2011 by Ethec
Though Test Drive Unlimited 2 can and should be considered an MMOG in many respects (as our recent interview with the TDU2 team proved), we may not see a traditional open beta or public stress test for the game between now and launch. That being the case, developer Eden Games and publisher Atari invited us to take on some of their developers in series of TDU2 multiplayer matchups and share our findings with Ten Ton Hammer readers.
We expected the same smooth online performance, glorious graphics, and impressive slate of cars as in the original. So, would TDU2 live up to our expectations? Could you have fair multiplayer competition even if you hadn’t sold a kidney to pay for elaborate racing sim peripherals? And, what about those nasty exploits that so sadly skewed the leaderboards in our original tour of Maui? Those questions were first and foremost in our mind as we kicked the virtual tires in a closed beta multiplayer preview of Test Drive Unlimited 2.
In TDU2, the islands of Ibiza and Oahu are ludicrously detailed sandboxes on a scope that few games ever approach. From two stunning renditions of real-life islands covering thousands of square miles to the minutest dashboard details for 90+ cars, TDU2 offers exceptional realism on a macro and micro scale. It’d be easy for players to get lost in the details of these cars or in the mountainous hinterland, but the game does an adequate job of keeping players connected through text chat, which is on-par with what you’d find in a typical MMO. Unfortunately, as of this printing, no integrated voicechat is available for PC players, so you’ll want to link up with clubmates via Vent.
For MMO players who are used to coordinating servers and factions with friends prior to logging in for the first time, TDU2 appears to use a kind of intelligent phasing. That means that while you’ll only see a selection of the total online players driving around the universe, you will be in easy contact with friends and clubmates. Simply press a button on your friends list and you’ll find yourself in close proximity to your friend. Better yet, your friends can invite you to participate in a multiplayer challenge and be instantly transported to the race “lobby” (where you can walk around other cars, open the doors, and even get in opponents’ cars – what better way to taunt your rival than by creasing the seat leather?).
Every challenge is, in essence, a multiplayer challenge, since you’ll always be competing against other players’ times on the leaderboard. But TDU2 offers a variety of head-to-head competitive formats, most of which were found in the original. All challenges start from a standing stop, and the challenge creator (or first in) can set vehicle class restrictions and whether or not collision is allowed for the racing challenges:
TDU2 also offers several innovated co-op multiplayer formats ideal for friends and clubs and fun for pick-up groups:
Finally, the game offers two more spur of the moment modes designed for online play:
Unfortunately, chase proved hard to set up – finding a police car, stopping the police car, grouping up, and smashing up the police car takes time, and if an NPC vehicle stops long enough, it will de-spawn. Since the game does include cop and criminal ranks, here’s hoping Eden Games makes this system more accessible by launch day.