Monday, July 25, 2011

Test Drive Unlimited 2

John Marine | 7/25/2011 03:25:00 PM | | | |
(UPDATED: June 22, 2012)

For the first time, I rented a PS3 game. "Test Drive Unlimited 2" continues and expands upon what the first game brought about. Only instead of Oahu (Hawaii), you now can drive the roads of Ibiza. The thrill of driving now goes off-road in addition to on-road. Get ready to make friends and challenge them in a variety of different races and challenges. Prepare for the finest racing and driving experience ever conceived for consoles (and PC)!

ESRB NOTE: This game is rated "T" for Teen by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). It features:

• Lyrics
• Mild Suggestive Themes
• Simulated Gambling



BEFORE I BEGIN...

I am considering doing my Game Reviews differently. I always feel it is best to educate my readers on games before considering getting them. So I am considering making a full review followed by ending it with tips. This way, potential interested readers won't have to sit through my detailed reviews followed by any in-game hints. Have any suggestions? Contact me by Emailing me (go to my Blogger profile and send an Email with your thoughts).

(ADDED: June 22, 2012) Have you downloaded the latest update for TDU2? Many welcomed updates are made as well as the offering of motorcycles from Ducati and Harley-Davidson. The Ducati Desmosedici RR and Diavel Carbon are available, and the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy is offered.

UPDATES MADE:

JUN 22 2012 - added update; updated look of post





--- Test Drive Unlimited 2 at a Glance ---

Test Drive Unlimited 2 requires an install. Game size required is 2,278 MB (2.278 GB) for the PS3 version.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 PS3
^ from: amazon.com - Test Drive Unlimited 2 (PS3 version). It's time to explore another island and enjoy driving about besides Oahu.

In Test Drive Unlimited 2, the roads of Oahu Island are back for you to explore. Only this time, you are going to both Oahu Island and Ibiza. You can now be more engaged in customizing your home and all kinds of vehicles. Driving and racing can be done off-road in addition to on-road in TDU2.

Your Test Drive Unlimited 2 experience begins in Ibiza. You won't be on the island partying the night away at Space Ibiza or Pacha Ibiza, nor will you be attending virtual versions of Ibiza trance or chill sessions... but you will be driving and racing on the streets and off-road trails of Ibiza. You will be taking part in a number of different races and events. You will be able to connect with other TDU2 players as well. You may sometimes encounter other users as you are exploring the world of Test Drive Unlimited 2. In other words, TDU2 is giving you the chance to be part of a virtual world devoted to driving and racing. What you may be used to in massively-multiplayer online games of other genres is what you will experience in TDU2.



--- Test Drive Unlimited: The Basics ---

To prepare you for Test Drive Unlimited 2, I will share with you some basics of TDU2. So it's time to get you ready for the experiences this game will provide!


Skills and Levels.

The first things to be aware of are your Levels. Your experience in this game is noted by your Global Level. Your Global Level goes starts at Level 0 and goes up to Level 60. How do you reach the highest levels of the game? There are four skills that help contribute to your Global Level: Competition, Collection, Discovery, Social. Here is a rundown of each skill:

• Competition - Your racing skills make up your Competition. Taking part in races and winning races helps contribute to your Competition. You must also earn cups to help boost your level in this department.

• Collection - Buying clothes, homes, furniture, cars, and more help contribute to Collection. It also pertains to other features for both your avatar and your cars.

• Discovery - You will need to explore the islands and travel down as many roads to help increase this skill. Discovery also helps you to earn more things to purchase. Take part in things like Photographer and other tasks to explore the island while also gaining more experience. Also, your ability to find facilities you can enter helps contribute to your Discovery. You will usually be notified when you find a new facility.

• Social - Because meeting others helps you enjoy the game, and because connecting with others is fun, you will need to interact with others as well as connect with friends. Who wants to meet a shallow loser? Go ahead and make friends! This is not just your island to explore, but also its own social networking medium. So go meet new people and have fun exploring! You can also join clubs and take part in various online challenges to help contribute to the Social skill.


As you receive more bonuses and do more racing, the individual skills will be upgraded, which in turn will upgrade your Global Ranking. To rule this game, try to reach Level 60 with your Global Ranking! Keep up with all of your skills by going to the Pause menu and select "Progress and Objectives." Learn what all you have to do to reach new levels by visiting this menu and accomplish the tasks asked of you to level up.


The Environment.

The game runs on a 24-hour time cycle. You will realistically see day-to-night-to-day transitions along with changes in weather. Dry roads can become soaked in rain. You will see rain falling on the road as well as puddles on the road after rain has fallen. When there's a thunderstorm, you will actually see streaks of lightning in the distance with a loud thunder clap that follows. Time and weather can play a key role when you start doing Photographer missions. Certain pictures you must take require you to be there at a certain time of day/night, with certain weather conditions, and even with a certain car. So consider this a heads-up.


The Driving.

Your car will take damage the more you start wrecking and driving foolishly. It can roll over, gather up dirt and scratches, and more. A trip to the car wash can help bring your car back to new. Apart from driving, make sure to avoid getting the police involved. If a police car catches you driving erratically, you could be in trouble with the law and will have to escape any way you can. You can, however, take part in these Chases as either a Cop or an Outlaw. You may also see some other players in their own cars on the field.


Those are some of the basics of TDU2. I now want to discuss some of the stuff you'll be doing in the game. Consider this your preview of what to expect (though I will not spoil too many details).



--- Test Drive Unlimited 2: Doing Stuff! ---

There are lots of things you can do on the island! Here are some of the many things away from racing that you can do:

Home.

You can't just stay out all the time driving- you need to have your own pad to store your cars and live. You are able to walk around your living space and even access your garage. Each house is capable of holding only so many cars as well as holding only so much towards customizing your home's furniture. There are two methods for finding homes- (1) visit a Realtor, or (2) explore the location for available homes. Each home allows you to customize your living space as well as store your cars. If you have friends in TDU2, you can invite them to your home(s). Each home will also allow you to change your clothes by going through your closet. So there is a lot you can do at home. Here is a simple rundown of what you can do at home in TDU2:

• customize and buy furniture for your house.
• edit your clothes
• visit your garage
• check out the latest news and updates regarding your TDU2 experience

To modify the furniture in your house, you will need to access MyTDUHome from the laptop in the house. From there, you can freely walk around your living room to change up furniture. You can choose between any number of furniture options for your house. The options vary for each item. If you own a piece of furniture already, re-coloring that item is free. In addition to furniture, you can also edit the flooring and walls of your house. Give your floor a new and stylish floor. Go with a new wall arrangement. Your living room can be vastly customized based on options you set. You must buy furniture to contribute to your Collection skills; changing walls and flooring does not count towards owning furniture.

To store more cars, you will need to buy more homes. The best tactic is to try to find some two-car houses until you can afford a four-car house.


Car Shopping.

Without a car, you can not function in the TDU2 world. So go get yourself a car. You may either visit a Used Car dealer if seeking cars on a budget, or you may visit a pretty showroom to find some cars for you to buy. You are able to explore any and all showrooms to see all available cars. There are two kinds of showrooms as far as New Cars are concerned- certain specific showrooms dedicated to one or multiple dealers, and showrooms devoted to certain categories of vehicle (like nationality or certain classes of vehicle). Each showroom can be visited and explored. Showrooms can have as few as two cars and as many as eight. At times, you may even encounter other TDU2 players shopping for cars just like you are. I once saw someone who was checking out a car. As I sat in the driver's seat, the other players was in the other seat! So it may be a good bonding opportunity to meet new players. :)

Only the Used Car lot features certain various cars for you to purchase while most new car showrooms have a fixed variety of cars for you to purchase. Cars at the Used Car dealer can not be customized, so what you see at the dealer is what you will get to drive away in should you buy that car. When visiting a showroom, there is one person you can visit who will share with you the list of cars to check out. Select a car from the list to shop for it. A new car showroom will allow you to purchase the car with options you select (not all cars have options). Here are some things to take note of when visiting a showroom:

• more immersive, actually explore car showrooms.
• visit host/hostess for car list
• choose wheels, paint color, interior
• meet other players visiting the same showroom.
• if low on money, you can sell some of your cars to make up the cost of a certain car. Your money + the cost of any exchanged car(s) helps if you can buy a car.

Each car comes with information on its acceleration, speed, and braking. The Difficulty indicates how tough the car is to drive. Cars with more steering wheel icons means it is tougher to drive than those with fewer steering wheel icons. There are three icons at the bottom for each car. These icons will let you know if you can re-color a car, add stickers to a car, or be able to tune the car at a Tuner. Any of those three icons that have green marks will allow you to modify a car in these respective manners, and those with red marks will disallow you in modifying a car for the given service.

Here is what you can do when you get to a car:
• buy - buy the car and edit its options (wheels, paint, and interior).
• get into the car - climb into the car. You can look around and honk the horn.
• data - more detailed info on the car.
• compare - compare one car to another in the showroom.
• test drive - go for a test drive in the car for a two-minute drive.

That is basically it in regards to cars. Later in the game, you can earn some cars that can't be bought at showrooms, but can be built by a Used Car dealer for you. Don't worry about this until later in the game. There are also other cars that can only be earned if you are part of a Club. Here is a video preview of a showroom:



I almost wish Gran Turismo had such detailed showrooms. By the way... if you remember TDU1, there were cars you could rent. You can't rent cars in TDU2.


Tuners.

Elevate your car's performance by taking it to a Tuner. As in the previous title, Tuners specifically work for certain nationalities of car. So a US Tuner will not accept your Nissan (for example). The tuning in TDU2 is different. You will be able to tune piece-by-piece with performance packages. There are a maximum of four upgradable levels for each element. Here are the elements you can tune for cars:

• Acceleration - improve a car's top speed.
• Engine - improve horsepower and engine performance.
• Braking - improve braking ability.
• Wheels - buy a new set of wheels for your car (not available for most cars)

To earn more upgrades, you will need to improve your Discovery of the area the Tune Shop is located in. A useful tactic I recommend is to improve your Discovery for whatever area your favorite car is. So if you have a Japanese car or a German car and want to upgrade it, improve your Discovery of Ibiza Area 2 when in Ibiza because that's where the specific tuners are located for those nationalities of car. Keep these things in mind as you're tuning cars.


Stickers and Paint.

The Sticker Shop will allow you to colorize and stylize your cars. Pick from an assortment of color styles for color and many kinds of sticker sets to apply to your car. Color choices come in a variety of styles. You can choose from matte, metallic, glossy, and carbon colors. You can even arrange to have a bi-color system that allows you to come up with some color-shifting paints. There are over 15 pages of stickers to apply to your car. Pick one that suits you best to put onto your car. Any time you purchase and apply one sticker from a certain page, you can use stickers from that page as many times as you like, as many stickers from that page as you like, and on any car that allows stickers to be placed. You need to purchase a sticker from another page to be able to expand your sticker collection. These stickers count towards your Collection skills.


Clothes Shopping.

Change up your appearance while also contributing to your Collection score by shopping for clothes. Depending on your avatar, you can shop for clothes for your male or female avatar. There are four main clothing stores in the game. There is also a fifth clothing store, but you will need to buy the downloadable Casino Online downloadable content (DLC) to access it.

Each of the clothing shops offer their own items to help dress up your avatar. To begin your clothes shopping experience, visit the lady near the dressing rooms. You will then be introduced to a number of options for which to dress up your avatar. Here are items to choose from (not all items available for all clothing shops):

• hats - clothing for your head. Caps and hats can be purchased.
• sunglasses - various sunglasses can be purchased.
• upper garments - a variety of tops and jackets can be purchased.
• lower garments - purchase bottoms for your avatar.
• shoes - various shoes can be purchased for your avatar.
• gloves - give your avatar some gloves to wear.

You will need to enhance your Discovery in a certain area to be able to purchase more items.


Realtor.

To buy homes, there are two methods- (1) find a home for sale while free roaming, or (2) visit a realtor. You will need to consult with a real estate agent to buy homes. Stepping into the realtor's office allows you to buy homes, exchange homes, or sell homes. All the available homes are specific to certain areas of either island. You don't just have any realtor- you have a brunette cutie proudly rocking skinny jeans and high-heel sandals. The biggest reason why you want to buy more homes is to have more available cars to store into them. There is one very important factor to consider when buying any house- its level. The first TDU had houses that allowed for as few as four cars and as many as ten cars to be stored. In TDU2, garage space ranges from as few as two cars to as many as six cars. When you reach Oahu (Hawaii), some houses in Hawaii will allow you to store as many as eight cars.

Any home you visit can be expanded upon by taking a Virtual Tour. Here, you will be able to take your own Virtual Tour of each home. Get to see what the place has to offer. Freely move around to see the living space, any additional rooms, the garage, and more. This will give you the best idea of what each home will offer should you buy it or want to buy it. A number of homes will look more like certain other homes as you look around. Don't worry about this. Just find a home you want to buy and enjoy living there.

Homes are rated on a five-star system. The number of stars essentially determines its garage space. The rating has nothing to do with the quality of a home. You start off with a home that has no stars. Later in the game, you will purchase houses that will allow you to better customize them. Everything from homes to even yachts can be purchased!

Buy a home by spending your hard-earned money. If you have enough money to purchase a home, you will freely be able to buy and enter that home immediately.

• A better and more cost-effective option is to exchange homes. The price of a home you are considering will be knocked off as you exchange homes. It makes more sense to exchange for homes of a certain car capacity with homes of the same or greater capacity. It makes no sense, however, exchanging from a house of one capacity for a home with less capacity. Exchange wisely.

• If you are in need of money and have a few houses bought, another money-saving measure is to sell houses. You will receive money back so you can have some extra money on hand. BE CAREFUL- if you have more cars than you have space to put them in, you may run out of places for which to store your cars! So do this only as an extreme measure. Also, remember that you can not sell any cars. You can, however, exchange cars in addition to the cars you have if you are trying to get rid of cars in exchange for one specific car.

You can purchase a home without needing to visit a Realtor (which is a BIG improvement from my TDU1 experience on the PS2). Just look for any available home and visit it. You can buy it from that point. I don't recommend you buying a house that you find free roaming unless you really want to get that house with your hard-earned money. It is better to maybe get a better deal by visiting the realtor, where you can exchange homes and not have to pay so much to get that certain house. Just take note of what Realtor offers the house in question. Remember the name of the house and look for the Realtor that offers that house.


Hairdresser.

Why visit a Hairdresser? If you want to change up the hairstyle and facial hair of your avatar, you will need to visit a hairdresser. Or don't tell me that you are content with the models the game provide for your avatar! You will be surprised what a change of hairstyle and such can do for your avatar. So visit the hairdresser and change up your avatar's hair and other things as much as you like.

Improve your Discovery of a certain area or island to expand the array of hair options for your avatar.


Cosmetic Clinic.

Go under the knife for modification of your avatar's face. When you're done, you will be able to go show off your new face! There are multiple options designed to customize your avatar's face. Be warned that after your avatar has cosmetic work done, he/she will have most of his/her head wrapped in bandages. Those bandages, though, will be removed after some time passes.


Airport.

When you reach Level 10, you will be able to access and use the airport to go to Hawaii's Oahu Island (it's just called Hawaii in this game). Get yourself a ticket so you can travel between Oahu and Ibiza. You have to pay a one-time fee of $2,000 for a trip to Hawaii when you first access the airport. After this first-time airport visit, you can travel from Ibiza/Hawaii to Hawaii/Ibiza as many times as you like for free.

Those are some of the many things to do around Ibiza and Hawaii besides racing. Speaking of which...



--- Test Drive Unlimited 2: Racing ---

Contest for speed by taking part in races around the islands. From in-game races to various online events (including events you can create yourself), there are MANY opportunities to go racing and take part in a number of events.


Racing in General: Basic Events.

Events are divided up into classes, and you will need the appropriate license to compete in each championship or race. They are broken up in "A," "B," and "C" classes. The lower the number for each class, the more powerful. The "A" events are for Asphalt cars. These are your basic races on tarmac, and cars in this class range from A7 to A1. The "B" class is exclusively for SUVs and exclusively for off-road racing. There are only B4 and B3 classes for this designation. The "C" class are for the classic cars in the game. They are classified as cars under C4 and C3.

Your first in-game championship is in the C4 championship. Championships feature a certain number of races for you to take part in with various events to each one. The best thing about championships is that you can select which race you want to do. All races must be completed for you to complete a championship. If you don't want to compete any longer in a championship (perhaps knowing you aren't going to win), you can back out of any championship. To my knowledge, all of your winnings will be nullified if you do back out of a championship. So make sure to complete them, even if you are not going to win the title. Here are some of the many events you can participate in:

• Race - a simple race either on a closed circuit or an open circuit. Be careful with some events because some may have moving traffic in addition to you racing.

• Time - post the fastest time on the course to win. Depending on the event (especially for tarmac racing), time penalties may be added if you go off-course at any time.

• Speedtrap - there are multiple speedtraps set up in certain locations, and there is a time limit for which to cross through them. Your speed going into each speedtrap will be recorded. Try to record the fastest times at each speedtrap. The highest average top speed from all speedtraps at the conclusion of the event determines the winner.

• Eliminator - at the end of each lap, the lowest-placed driver is eliminated. The race is over either when you are eliminated or when the last remaining driver is eliminated.

• Speed - keep your car above the minimum speed limit to avoid losing. Make sure to try to maintain your speed within the allowed time.

Try to win every race in the championship. A victory earns you 10 points in the championship and the maximum money payout. You earn no points if you finish last.

Later in your racing, you can take part in Cup championships. You can only advance to the next race when you win the previous event. And also, you must have a car from every class offered for the Cup. So you may want to hold onto some of your cars rather than sell them off.


Single-Player Events.

Scattered across the island are a number of events designed to test your driving abilities and accomplishing certain tasks. If you complete these tasks, you will be rewarded money and help your Discovery skills. Here is a brief look at some of the many challenges:

• Tail - you will be asked to follow a certain car in these events. You must do so cautiously, however. Try to avoid getting too close or trailing too far back from the other car.

• Driving - there is no time limit, but you must get one person from the starting position to the ending position. Going off-course and taking damage will deduct driving points. If you fail to get from one point to another, you will lose the event.

• Driving Convoy - you will be given a car for which you must get to a certain destination with as little damage as possible. The amount of money you will be paid depends on how well you can get the car from start to finish with as little damage as possible. Going off-course or damaging the car will deduct winning money away. There is no time limit.

• Jolt - rather than driving furiously, you must carefully get one person to a certain destination without scaring or sickening that person. Driving fast, braking hard, swerving out of control, hitting things, and other actions will upset your passenger. So drive carefully to win these challenges. There is no time limit to the Jolt challenges.

• Speed - get the car up to speed and maintain that speed for a good amount of time.

• Adrenaline - you have a certain amount of time to excite your passenger with a variety of dangerous driving acts. If you fail to fully excite the passenger within the allowed time, you lose.

It helps to have a very good car for these challenges. Just remember that the Driving Convoy has cars provided for you, so there's no need to have a certain car available to take part in the Driving Convoy tasks.


Other Forms of Racing.

(Most of this section pertains to online racing, which I have little or no experience with in TDU2.)

Why play alone? You can do online racing by seeking events across the island or by going to the Community Racing Center (CRC). More ambitious types can set up their own races with the Challenge Creator.

You can also take part in co-op races. These consist of a bunch of club races rather than a lot of one-on-one contests. One such event is the Keep Your Distance challenge, where all racers must be within a certain distance from each other.

Feeling lucky? Why not try the Online Chase Mode? This is where you test either side of the badge. This is similar to Most Wanted and Top Cop in the Need for Speed games. You can be an Outlaw by evading the police, or you can be top cop by taking down speeders. Requests can usually be made for you to pursue unruly drivers. If you cause too much havoc on the roads, the police will pursue you. Unfortunately, I was arrested in this game by the police for traffic violations. You end up having to pay a fine. So be careful while going full speed on the streets.



--- TDU2: Overall Review ---

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is unlimited in immersion and in action. Its combination of on-road and off-road action will be enough to make any racing game fan happy. Being able to interact and take part in this virtual realm is very pleasing. The cars all look and sound great. Enjoy racing from a number of different views. I don't care too much listening to the radio in the game, but a lot of the music (non-radio) is great to listen to. The environments are all designed beautifully. Not once will you experience any ugly-looking or less-than-perfect graphics. Though sometimes, there is a modest sort of polygon pop-up in very far distances. Still, everything looks and works great.

The single most disappointing element of TDU2 (to me) is in trying to save photos. You would probably think you can save pictures to your PS3's Extendable Media Bar (XMB), but that's not the case. There is a real funky way to save your pictures. Here's how:

1.) Take a photo (Start » Take a Photo » Take your photo » (optional) name your picture
2.) Press the PS Button.
3.) Go to the Photo menu.
4.) Go to "Save Screenshot."
5.) Confirm.
--- If you want to port your pictures over... ---
6.) Copy your pictures over to a given external media device.
7.) To save on your PC, you will need to crop the picture to actually save your work. Take the main picture and crop the image to include just the actual in-game picture. When you're done, save over your image or save a new image.

You can't even save your pictures over to your XMB. That's real disappointing. I am not just talking about the photo work you have to do, but rather just taking casual pictures.


Maybe a modest disappointment is that I wished there were some better-looking models I can use to represent myself in the game. Some of the clothing choices are a bit fruity to me as well. I guess since you start off in Ibiza, you are supposedly a super-handsome European guy or girl and that you only care for European fashions. I almost want to play a second game to play as a female avatar just to see the fashion options for females in TDU2.

Oh, and one last thing... no motorcycles in Test Drive Unlimited 2. It probably would have been fun to ride motorcycles especially around Ibiza. Be careful of one thing online- some of the online drivers are absolute idiots. Some will intentionally wreck you and keep whacking you (often called "rammers" or "smashers"). And also, be wary of these Bugatti Veyron drivers (or other drivers of really fast/powerful cars) who will tail you and attack you. Thankfully, you can report certain bone-headed people in the game by filing a grief report to Atari or Eden or whoever.



--- Test Drive Unlimited 2: Video Preview(s) ---

Here is your look at TDU2. And if you seen my blog post on Test Drive Unlimited 1, yes. This is the same video I posted in my TDU1 blog post:


^ courtesy of Machinima; the song is "Ghetto Burnin'" by Phonat

To see more trailers of TDU2 on YouTube, click on "Test Drive Unlimited 2 trailer" YouTube search results. Or click on "Test Drive Unlimited 2" YouTube search results for all YouTube videos about TDU2.





Above all else, I have experienced a Test Drive Unlimited experience much different from the PlayStation 2 version of TDU1. Test Drive Unlimited 2 will really grab you and take you for a ride with its immersive gameplay and engaging action. It takes what made TDU1 great and made it better for TDU2. Plus, all the interactions with other gamers make for one exceptional racing and driving experience not to be missed. Surely worth your money if you have the system to play TDU2. If you got money (and the system to play it on) but don't have TDU2, get it on Amazon by using this:


^ available for: PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, PC, and as a PC Download

Learn more about TDU2 by visiting www.testdriveunlimited2.com. Thank you for reading!

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