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Test Drive Unlimited 2 multiplayer hands-on preview

Let’s be honest, most of us will never get to drive a Ferrari at 150 mph across the Spanish island of Ibiza. Thank God then for Test Drive Unlimited 2, as you’re gonna be blasting across the island until your tires are bald. We recently got a chance to sit in on an online session with the developer and check out a bunch of TDU2’s online modes.

The modes we saw included Speedtrap, an interesting timed challenge where players need to pass through 5 checkpoints in any order at the fastest speed they can. Whoever manages to pass through a checkpoint fastest owns it and gets points if they can hold it until the end of the challenge. The challenge becomes more interesting as a lot of the checkpoints are surrounded by hard turns, making it difficult to maintain speeds into the checkpoint; finding the straightest road pays off here.

Follow the Leader was equally interesting; a co-op event in which only the lead player can see the next checkpoint. Players must follow the leader (duh) and make sure not to pass him lest they speed past the next checkpoint like a knucklehead. As soon as the leader hits the checkpoint a countdown begins and every other car needs to hit the checkpoint within the timed window. Leave another player behind, pass the leader, or drive too fast and the whole team will fail; the leader has to make sure he sets a good pace for everyone. But that’s not all, the Leader is randomly picked by the game and it switches multiple times during the race, so make sure any jerks in your group check their egos at the door on this one.

TDU2 also puts a lot of focus on its Clubs, a guild-like feature that allows you to squad up with your friends and make a crew of racers. Joining and playing within a guild has a lot of advantages: players can share cars, the game will keep track of race times between members, you’ll collectively earn more money, and most importantly, a number of the game’s cars are only available through being in a Club.

TDU2’s handling is defintely more on the arcade side of the fence, but you’ll need to make sure to brake if you want any chance of winning. There’s also a manual transmission option for the die-hards. Cars are placed in different classes, so there’s no worry of having to race your VW GTI against a Ferarri. Players work their way up from modest hatchbacks to Ferraris and Bugatis, acquiring new houses to store their cars in while customizing their avatar and vehicles.

Oh yeah, your avatar. Test Drive Unlimited 2’s social aspect extends to your character who you can dress and customize as you see fit. You have 4 different areas to gain experience in, Competition for the straight racing, Collection, for buying new cars, Discovery, for unlocking new parts of the maps and finding collectibles, and Social, for adding friends and racing against other players.

TDU2 is trying to push the boundaries of the standard racing game into a more personal, social experience, a refreshing idea that runs counter to Gran Turismo’s traditionally static, isolated gameplay. Hopefully it’ll all blend together well when it launches February 8th.

Dec 23, 2010

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