Compared to its predecessor, Test Drive Unlimited 2 (TDU2) is an open world game set in Ibiza, Spain and Oahu, Hawaii. Both islands are massive and it will take you well over 20 hours to explore them, let alone completing their missions. While the first game had you restricted to the tarmac, the islands are now open to you in their entirety, paving the way for off-road vehicles and SUVs and events revolving around them. You now also have day and night transitions as well as dynamic weather, and the game looks absolutely stunning at night and when it’s raining.
Events and activities level you up across four parameters — competition, discovery, social and collection. Competition, as you would expect, involves races, time trials, tournaments and earning licences. Discovery requires you to explore the island, find hidden vehicles or photograph landmarks. Social involves making friends online, entering online events and building clubs. Lastly, collection entails buying cars and real estate and investing in upgrades.
The carefree approach extends to vehicle handling too. There are three driving difficulties to choose from, and even the hardest of them is fairly easy. There aren’t hundreds of cars in the game, but there is a great selection, and the way they’re presented gives them a sense of exclusivity. You’ll find cars either in manufacturer or region-specific showrooms, where you can inspect them, sit inside and even take them out for test drives. Plus, there are used car dealerships for when you’re short on funds.
The highlights of TDU2, as in the first game, are the long solo driving missions. Each has a few conditions to be met, such as not damaging the car or keeping your passenger calm by not driving dangerously. The long cross-island drives are equally memorable, and even more so thanks to the beautiful environs. TDU2 is visually stunning, but some of the lustre is taken away by the uneven frame-rates. On an nVidia GeForce GTX 465-powered rig, the frame-rates remained above 30, but were never static, which can get annoying. Also, bear in mind that the PC version has an intrusive DRM (digital rights management) that requires you to be online each time you launch the game, which is very bothersome.
All said and done, fans of the first game will have no reason to complain about Test Drive Unlimited 2; if anything, it’s a whole lot more of what we loved. For those new to the series, just remember what I said at the start. Go in expecting a driving game, not a racing game, and you will be pleasantly surprised.