The story begins travelling to the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. The Island is dedicated to the sole purpose of racing fast cars. Following-on from the Xbox360 release of the same name; the player can drive anywhere on the Island finding Events on the way. These events consist of racing against a single car, racing against a number of cars, doing the fastest speed past speed cameras and doing time trials. There are also invites to Car Clubs where, if you beat all of the members, you become president of the club and receive a bonus; either a new car or a free upgrade for a car.
As the name of the game suggests, you are able to test drive any car from any dealer on the island. If you like the car and have enough money then you have the option to purchase it. This is a very nice feature as you can compare cars’ performance before making the choice, or you can simply keep testing out cars with no commitment to buy.
The first task when you reach the Island is to buy a property to store your cars and to buy a car. When you purchase the property it becomes the games’ HUB, where messages are received. These messages invite you to Car Clubs and let you know when you have won either a car or an upgrade.
There are car dealers situated all around the Island. You don’t have much money to start with so you need to buy a lower class car and work-your-way-up by winning events and buying better and faster cars.
With a wide variety of Events to compete in, it’ll take some time for the player to realise the full-extent of the title. The car handling varies dramatically as Test Drive: Unlimited tries to find some middle-ground niche between Arcade and Simulation; and it does well to find a sweet-spot offering enough of a difference, yet still running on gut reflex Analogue Stick reactions.
At all times, the player must drive the car across the island to the start line of the race, but if you have driven over a section of road already then you can select a spot to immediately place your vehicle using the Map feature. This feature saves a lot of driving around the Island simply to get to where the next race is. You must be careful between races as there are Police cars that try to apprehend you if you are breaking the law. If you are caught then you have to pay a fine. Try not to get caught too often as the fines rise rapidly as you progress through the title’s Ranking System.
You can choose what type of music you wish to listen to using the car radio. Although there are not any particularly well-known artists featured in the game, but there is a wide choice which should satisfy but it is not amazing. The sound effects of the cars are very realistic adding depth to the game.
There is a Sat Nav feature with a Map in the bottom left corner and a woman’s voice guiding you through the Courses. This is very useful but sometimes when driving fast the commands to turn are given too late meaning close attention must be paid to the Map.
The Graphics are good for the Playstation2 with reflections on the cars and smoke coming off tyres when accelerating or going around corners. The views are amazing giving you a real feel for the island, and you know that you can drive to any point that you can see, giving it a very Grand Theft Auto feel (without leaving the car).
This is a very acceptable and enjoyable driving game with a different angle to most in the genre. It is very nice that there is total Free-Roaming within the island making it a lot more realistic. The title suffers when compared to it’s well-established Xbox360 counter-part; but now we’ve truly entered the new Current-Generation, that’s to be expected.