Unfortunately, Test Drive Unlimited trips up over its most unusual elements - its lifestyle trappings and MMO-style dedication to a physically real space. The enticement of home ownership is lessened when you realise that a house is a glorified menu, and you can't even look around your garage in first-person.
Every challenge and function has to be physically visited before you can access it directly, must be selected from the cumbersome map interface even after that and is prefaced by a lengthy animation.
Above: Cops are thin on the ground so it's rare to get a fine but the financial penalty gets steep later on
This is likely to take its heaviest toll where Eden seeks to use it to innovate most, in the game's online life. It's hard to predict how its promise of massively multiplayer racing - with each server, each copy of Oahu hosting a hundred or more drivers - will work out, how smooth interactions between players will be, before those players arrive en masse come release.
Certainly, seeing other drivers circulating around the island is a thrill, the cumulative prize money on user-created challenges is a brilliant stroke, and the friends' clubhouses will be invaluable; but with no quick-match options or lobby to browse everyday race meets, you'll be left picking a challenge on the map and hoping for the best. Unless the game is hugely busy it's likely to end up an insular, friends-only affair, surely the opposite of what was intended.