While not necessarily a ‘driving game person’ I tossed Test Drive Unlimited in last night and I was really surprised at what I discovered. What Atari has done with Xbox Live is really very imaginative. They have blurred the lines of single-player and multi-player in an extremely creative way. As you drive around the island doing what would be considered single-player challenges to earn money to unlock more vehicles, some of the challenges have two modes: Single and multi-player. Chose the MP version and you’re up against live opponents over Xbox Live.
What is even more interesting is that as you drive about Oahu in in ‘Free-Ride’ mode, you’ll notice gamertags pop up on screen (along w/ the distance they are from you) and as you get closer you can hear the voices of the other players as they too drive about the island. These are actual Xbox Live members playing the game as well. It’s sort of like an MMORPG (actually Atari calls this an 'MOOR' for Massivley Open Online Racer.) I met some nice people just driving about the island last night.
One of them was YAMAHARAPTOR660, who took the time to demonstrate his Motorcycle skills to me by performing a few highly skilled maneuvers and then used the in-game photo function to capture his fine work. To blur the single/multi-player line even more…..if you crash into any of these Live players with your car as you are in Free-Ride mode, you can choose to challenge them to a race to win (or in my case lose) more money. Since I had played the game for all of an hour, and I only had my basic Alfa GT 3.2 V6 24v, I was getting schooled by those had unlocked higher performance vehicles when I took on some challenges. After I lost some of my virtual money, I found out that you can hit one of the auto rental places on the island to rent a more powerful set of wheels to allow you more even footing through raw horespower.
All in all, you really have to play this game to understand the creative way that the the single and multi-player experiences so nicely complement each other. Look for my tonight as I head to the North Shore of the Island to explore more of the 1,000 miles of roads that exists in this virtual version of paradise.
With this title as well as Saints Row, Lego Star Wars, Splinter Cell , Gears of War VP and a whole lot more…I’d say that Xbox 360 owners are going to have quite the selection of games to choose from this Holiday season.
Edit: Fixed formatting