Sunday, February 20, 2011

This was intended to be my review on Test Drive Unlimited 2

Goodwood car park - Ariel Atom

Image via Wikipedia

But instead please consider it is a long list of grievances:

Background

I played A LOT of Test Drive Unlimited 1. It was not a perfect game, but it kept me busy for a long time. According to my gamer score, I finished 73% of that game,  34 out of the 46 achievements including the annoying ones like driving every damn road on the island and a bunch others. Needless to say that I know this game, warts and all.

Game Two is a piece of shit. It is so weak that instead of just building it in Ibiza, as announced, they lazily included Oahu to give the illusion that the game is much bigger. So what we have here is a big DLC for Test Drive Unlimited part one.

The Cars

This is by far one of the saddest games in terms of cars available in the full 360 catalog. This is worse than Grand Theft Auto: 4 and Saint’s Row 2. I understand that all gaming titles go through licensing in order to get the cars, but what I am seeing here is just so terrible that the only way it can be explained is that the powers that be decided to not spend the money licensing enough good cars. The lineup is so horrible that there are racing categories where you have just three cars to choose from. I remember having to use a fucking spreadsheet in order to pick cars in Forza 2 and 3, but in this game cars have three performance variables, and they don’t even correlate to the AI opponents you race. You can’t tune many of the cars, so for example you have a Ferrari 308, and you are the first car in the racing grid, and car #2, another 308, takes off and gets a 10-car lead on you even if it is a straight line and there’s close to no wheel spin. WTF? How is that even possible?

The interiors are terrible, which means those of us that like cockpit view are stuck driving using the nose or bumper views.

Tuning is a joke. Cars have four levels of tune above retail, but not all cars can be tuned. Tune shops won’t allow you to buy a certain tune level unless you have unlocked that level of service for that area (Ibiza is split in half, Oahu is split into four). This means that if you have barely explored the side of Ibiza where your tune shop is, you won’t be able to upgrade the car as far as you want to, which means you’ll have to waste time exploring and doing bullshit missions instead of racing.

The Maps

If I were to believe this game, Ibiza is a shithole with tiny bits of pretty areas and some scattered medieval ruins. They tried to update the Oahu map a little bit, but not by much. Exploring 100% of an area is still a bitch, no different than in the first game. I finished the top half of Ibiza and about 60% of the bottom half, and less than 25% of Oahu.

The Challenges

There was very little effort to make the challenges more interesting. Drive a car without damaging it and get paid. Drive somebody without scaring him/her and get paid. Drive somebody without scaring him/her AND on time to a meeting and get paid. Drive somebody WHILE scaring him and get paid. That’s about it. Almost every single one is boring as hell.

The photo challenges are even worse. They aren’t marked at all, you have a list and more or less a description of whatever you have to shoot, but you can only see it if you go to the photographer’s studio, which is idiotic. Those sometimes have weather and time constraints too, so for example there is a picture that can only be done from 10 AM to 6 PM, and only if it is cloudy. Or it has to be a specific car that costs an arm and a leg, and no, you can’t rent cars.

Racing

Inconsistent as hell. The AI always magically has better cars than what you can buy in the game. You are forced to go through a racing school for each category before you are allowed to race, and in every instance the stupid racing school is 10x harder than the actual racing. It is completely idiotic and takes the fun out of the whole thing. Because the cars are so inconsistent, it is very hard to learn any of their quirks except the Lancia Delta Integrale, which drives great at every tune level. Everything else I tried but the Ariel Atom and the off road buggy sucks.

Online Play

Complete rip off! I couldn’t get connected ONCE in a week of trying, and all Atari says is that they are having trouble and they are trying to do their best to address it. And the DLC? Worthless because it relies on online play. Why the fuck do I need to use Atari’s servers to play a fucking slot machine? I understand if you want to make the other games multi player, but slot machines? Seriously? How the fuck is Atari allowed to sell this DLC that doesn’t even work?

Summary

I paid $50 for this game and $10 for the DLC. I got no less than 50 hours of play out of it, so in terms of bang for the buck I broke even. Now, was it enjoyable? Not really. I am just dropping that turd into a mailer and sell it back to Amazon while they still offer $24 in trade-in credit for it. And I mean that, I actually stopped writing this entry to submit the trade-in to Amazon, print the shipping label and manifest, pack it and get it ready to drop it at UPS.