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Test Drive Unlimited (Pre-E3 2006)

Developer: Eden Studios | Publisher: Atari
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: Driving

Release Date: 03/20/07

tdu1.jpgThere’s no denying that the MMO market is absolutely on fire right now. Never before have so many subscription based games been able to survive at the same time. Games like Final Fantasy XI, City of Villains, Everquest and current king World of Warcraft are all alive and well with no signs of slowing down any time soon. The RPG genre is one that just seems to fall nicely into place in the online world. However, Test Drive Unlimited being developed by Eden Studios and published by Atari promises to be something quite different. Are you ready for this? An MMORG, or a massively multiplayer online racing game if you prefer.

I’ll be honest, this one kind of came out of left field for me. While I was skeptical at first, after looking into the title a bit more, it actually seems like a pretty good concept. You’ll play the role of a driver looking to make it big in the racing scene and to do so you move to Hawaii, where else? The game really doesn’t feature much in the way of story, it basically boils down to you racing opponents for cash or other rewards and updating your car, apartment, or whatever else you think could use an overhaul. Obviously, racing other players is a great way to earn money, but it’s not the only option. The game will allow you to partake in various sub missions (think GTA) such as package delivery and picking up and dropping off people who’ve got places to be.

The idea of a persistent world in a racing game begins to make sense when you just think that other players can be driving all around the islands of Hawaii even while you’re not there to see it. Suppose you log in to Xbox Live and see another racer on the road. You can issue a challenge and if the other player accepts, you can set the stakes and be on your way. Or you could just do a friendly battle for pride and nothing more. Just make sure you don’t get too careless or you’ll quickly find yourself in hot water with the local police. Get busted one too many times and you’ll be paying a hefty fine for your careless driving.

Test Drive Unlimited will have over one hundred cars for you to purchase and each can be tuned for better performance. In addition to cars, you can also purchase new clothes and accessories for your driver. Given that this is a racing game, you generally won’t be paying much attention to what you’re wearing, but it’s always nice to look good for the camera.

The first of its kind, Test Drive Unlimited will kick the MMORG genre into high gear when it is released later this year. Right now, September is the target street date, but this could very well change as gameplay and technology is tweaked. The game will hit the 360 first, but PS2, PC and PSP users will also get a chance to check out this new genre as later versions for those systems are planned to follow the 360 release.

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By Ryan Schaefer - 05/10/06
ESRB Details: Language, Mild Violence
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Screenshots for Test Drive Unlimited (Pre-E3 2006)

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