Test Drive Unlimited 2
It’s all gone wrong. In a good way
The first TDU was a flawed, but ambitious open-world racer – but the sequel’s back on track. The original Hawaiian island makes way for Ibiza, the Mediterranean heaven packed with World Heritage Sites and uber-clubs where the likes of Pete Tong and Carl Cox so brilliantly put on CDs. As a ‘Massively Open Online Racing’ game, you need plenty of space to roam. Eden Studios is attempting to blend the online and offline world seamlessly, Burnout-style – even the storyline can be continued in the multi-player world.
Once again there’s the fun /horrifyingly shallow aspect of consuming brands and hoarding stuff besides cars: apartments, sofas, TVs the size of orphanage walls. There’s damage now, changing weather, day-to-night cycles, new race types, new vehicle classes and ‘environmental challenges’. Oh, and load of cars. If Eden Games can work out how to build some fun road layouts, this is going to be a corker.
Superbikes: more power than God
Bikes are faster, less stable and more dangerous than cars – and the crashes are bigger. Odd, then, that bike games shone so infrequently until MotoGP 09/10 raised the game with a solid, well-structured ride, and now there’s this: SBK X. And it’s driving on MotoGP’s toes.
Don’t dismiss it as the latest in a series of okay-ish games of the World Superbike series – this one’s a real step forward. Beyond the usual races and championships there’s a new career mode, where you create a rider, manage your team and invest in engines, chassis, suspension – the works. You also start in the lower classes, as SBK X includes the 600cc SuperSport and SuperStockers.
Better still is the new Legendary Roster, a group of past greats including Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss and Ben Bostrumand. There are some ringers too (Katsuaki Fujiwara? Tom Sykes?) but hey, it’s all nostalgia. SBK X is looking at a May release in the UK, however a US release hasn’t been announced.
WRC? It’s the muddy one…
After a four year gap, the World Rally Championship is back with a new developer, new rallies and new technology. With Evolution Studios occupied with MotorStorm, WRC is now under the control of World Superbikers Milestone, and they’re excited by three further letters: GPS. The real cars are minutely tracked through the stages, and Milestone has gained access to the data: the plan is for players to compete head-to-head with the pros. It’s not certain to happen that way – the announcement is hazy – and it would require perfect copies of the stages, but you’d have to work hard to squander such amazing telemetry.
Luck has given Milestone ace material this year, with ex-champ Solberg resurgent, Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen hounding the long-dominant Loeb, plus new signings Ken Block (YouTube phenomenon) and Kimi Raikonnen (monotone F1 robot). DiRT too ‘extreme’ for you? Then keep your eye on this.
The unconfirmed racers
Above: What will Criterion do with Need For Speed
Burnout developers Criterion are working on a ‘revolutionary’ new Need for Speed game. No details yet, but Criterion Creative Director Alex Ward made his love for NFS on the ill-feted 3DO console clear in an interview with IGN a few years back, so expect a heartfelt tribute. Codemasters have also semi-confirmed DiRT3 is next on their racing agenda following the release of F1 2010. Expect an announcement at E3 with a release in 2011. We also hear that Bizarre Creations are currently working on three projects. One is Blur, one is a Bond game, and the third… it’s hotly rumoured to be a racer. Expect a full reveal later this year along with more detailed news.
May 3, 2010