More Limited Than the Title Implies
Test Drive Unlimited 2 continues the open-world driving experience featured in the original and aims to correct some of the first game's many flaws. For the most part, this beefy sequel does a good job addressing some of those problems but ultimately leaves more to be desired. In may ways TDU2 is better than its predecessor, but at the same time it's just not much of a leap forward and doesn't really stack up against some of the other more recent racing games. This isn't to say that the game is bad, but it seems the developers didn't take the right steps in bringing out the game's true potential.
At first glance TDU2 looks very reminiscent of the original but the graphics are somewhat better. The car models have improved thanks to better geometry and an increased level of detail. Unlike the first game, you are now able to walk around in first person perspective and interact with the cars in the game. You can open doors, sit inside, roll the windows down, and even retract the roofs on convertibles! The interiors are also look more impressive and you now have the ability to look around as you are driving. These aspects make the rides in the game more interesting and makes starting a collection more fun. This also allows players to browse more realistically and get the feel that you are actually shopping for a brand new sports car!
Like the first game, you will choose a character or "avatar" in order to start your career off. The opening sequence is a bit deceiving, but gets you in the spirits of open world racing and freedom.
The (more expensive) houses in the game are one of the better improvements, as you are able to walk around them freely and even personalize your furniture to your liking. The modeling and lighting is generally better, and some of the more high-end homes are really interesting. The garage is the most important feature of the houses of course, since this a driving game after all. You are limited to what you can by according to the number of vehicle slots in your home or homes--so players should try to move up to larger places at the earliest convenience. The TDU home acts as the hub to access all of your player data and statistics, like in the first game.
Racing in TDU2 hasn't changed too much, albeit the main events are organized slightly differently. The championships are arranged as clusters of individual events, which will include circuit/eliminator races, point-to-point, time trials and speed traps. These can be entered in any order and once the final one has been completed, you will receive the grand prize. Unfortunately, the game requires you to acquire several licenses before racing. This sort of cancels out the "unlimited" part of the title, and is more of a nuisance than anything, but it's the only way to gain access to the main events. There are also other challenges located throughout the playable game world and since TDU2 is always connected, you will be able to link up with other players in multiplayer events. The online experience is really unique in that you can race, chat, and just hang out with other users. There are even social hangout spots where players can relax after hours of driving.
To sum things up, Test Drive Unlimited 2 is not a bad game, despite it's lingering flaws. The game still suffers from average graphics and relatively boring game play. The car modeling and handling has improved, but is not up to par with other games in the genre; leaves much to be desired. The the island, day-night cycle and semi-realistic damage modeling are nice additions, and the racing action is mostly good. The weather effects are also a nice touch and the dirt and mud looks believable. Overall the game is quite average, but there are more miles to explore and a bigger selection of vehicles to collect. There's something for everyone in TDU2 so it's a worthy sequel and all around enjoyable driving game.