The game then combines free racing with preset missions as you work your way up, earning money and buying ever more impressive cars, expensive homes and all the bling you can swing. Free races pop up spontaneously as you tool around the island. While passing other cars, you can challenge the driver, and the game halts for a moment while you work out the distance, route and amount of money to wager.
Mission-based races involve things like delivering people, cars or “goods” from here to there, and although vehicles don't take realistic damage in the game (we had some fun taking a Lamborghini off-roading, which probably should have torn out the entire undercarriage), nevertheless, too many accidents during missions can result in failure.
Oddly enough, the missions seem tailored around your character’s gender, in that if your character is male, you get to pick up and drive around hot bikini babes, but if your character is female, it’s all about picking up buff guys. Hmmm… anyway, again, there’s no storyline, the only goal being to earn enough money to buy every car, house and item, and unlock every last corner of the island for racing and exploring.
At the end of the day, Test Drive Unlimited is what the online community is going to make of it. It does seem a little strange to think of a virtual universe in which all anybody ever does is race expensive cars across a tropical island, all day and all night without end. But then, is that any stranger than stomping an orc’s windpipe? Didn’t think so.
May 12, 2006