Test Drive Unlimited


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


Test Drive Unlimited was a stunning and original next-generation online racing title, debuting on the Xbox 360. Its immersive and unique online component was flawlessly integrated into the single player experience. Unlimited returns six months later remarkably intact, and it’s not even on current high-end hardware, but on a portable.

This becomes one of the most impressive PSP titles on a technical level. When online in a seamless interface (certainly more so than the PlayStation 2 version), the player can have the option of taking on single player races or challenging other real people who race around in their game world. It’s handled so well you might not even notice you’re playing against other humans instead of AI opponents if it wasn’t for the need to track down opposition.

Those not online will still enjoy this as a fully licensed racer. You’ll earn credit for each race you win, which can be taken to a number of unlocked shops around the island. The design is smart in that you’ll need to explore to find everything available, and in turn, you’ll also discover more races and tracks. Free roaming is critical, though with automatic GPS on by default constantly telling you where to go, some may not even realize the freedom they have during their first impression.

Graphics are a significant step down, making some corners or turns hard to see. Even with the GPS, it’s still too easy to fly by a critical turn. When selecting new music from the varied track list, the game stops and stutters until the switch is made, a minor distraction that can only occur during free roam. Load times are acceptable elsewhere. Police are definitely more aggressive, and racing AI vehicles have no problem slamming into the player if it will give them the edge.

Gameplay deletions are arguably for the better even though they deleted play types. You’ll no longer run escort challenges by meeting people on the side of the road. Given the virtual residents' annoying needs and limited time frame to complete the task, these were more of a distraction on the 360 than a real benefit to the overall product. The shops now only stock cars, eliminating the touchy motorcycles which even after a patch, were nearly impossible to use on the other hardware.

Those familiar with the console versions will need a few minutes to adjust to the controls as well. Turning doesn’t feel like it has the range it used to with the PSP’s analog nub. Going into reverse can also be an issue as the gear shift (square by default) fails to respond at times.

Test Drive Unlimited is a showcase for how far the PSP has come since its launch, especially in terms of online play. It does it all, with the game’s critical and unique online aspect intact, and a fantastic game at its core. This is one of the stand-out racing titles for the hardware and, at the least, the one with the best concept.


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Last updated: Monday, August 20, 2007 10:48 PM