Test Drive Unlimited

aka: TDU
Xbox 360 Specs [ all ]

Description official descriptions

Test Drive Unlimited lets the player choose one of several characters, both male and female, waiting at an airport to check in for their flight to the Caribbean dream island O'ahu located in Hawaii. The characters do not have different statistics, that only applies to the extravagant, licensed cars.

The whole island is accessible from the beginning and after the player has bought his first home and car, he can either drive around and look for events or load up the map and jump directly to a location of a race, a car salesman or other locations - similar to Need for Speed Underground. Every bought car has a built-in navigation system, guided by a woman's voice to get the player to his destination, either pre-programmed in the game or decided by the player.

There are over 125 different cars and motorcycles in different price ranges to choose from. From the Audi TT over the Jaguar XJ200 to the McLaren F1 and Kawasaki Z1000, there is everything the character needs as a young man or girl with too much money on their hands. Each car has its own, realistic set of characteristics such as speed or handling, but they all have a highly detailed exterior and interior in common.

The character starts with $200.000 dollars in his pocket, but there will not be anything left after buying a first car and home. Additional cash needs to be earned in different kinds of races from checkpoint challenges to time trials. The money cannot only be used to buy new homes and new cars (and a little tuning for those), but also to buy new outfits for the avatar.

The heart of Test Drive Unlimited is the online mode. Using a GameSpy account, players connect to the official TDU server immediately after loading the game. New options become available online, such as a meeting lounge where the statistics and looks of other players can be looked up. It also provides access to player-created matches shown on the map screen. Creating a race here also works in the singleplayer modes. At any location, the start and finish can be defined, as well as the type of the race, which type/classes of cars or bikes are allowed and how many people can participate. If not all slots have been filled up by other players, the AI will take control of the rest.

The PSP and PS2 versions have a lower visual quality and lack a few features, such as manual transmission, avatar customization, certain cars and all motorcycles, dealership and tuning shop NPCs, the vehicle interior camera angle and certain missions. They do include Master Points and Auto GPS, and certain default vehicles only available for the 360 version through download packs.

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Credits (Windows version)

415 People (407 developers, 8 thanks) · View all

Studio Directors
Game Directors
Assistant Producer
Technical Directors
Lead Team PC
PC Rendering Team
PC Online Lead
PC Online Programmers
PC Physics
PC Audio
PC Front-End
PC Game Design
X360 Rendering Lead
X360 Programmers
[ full credits ]



Average score: 81% (based on 73 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 47 ratings with 2 reviews)

Gorgeous but still needs development!

The Good
The graphics are simply the best I've seen on a racing game! Gorgeous settings, beautiful 3D modeling, realistic textures and HDR lighting make up for an experience that is just a few steps away from reality.

Literally everything in the game's virtual world is well modeled and textured and the variety is so vast that you'll never face the same environmental setting twice. Yet considering the fact that they have laid out more than 1000 virtual miles for you to race on, this is amazing just by saying it! Well wait till you have seen it! The whole game's cosmos is based on the island of Hawaii. I have no clue whether they have modeled the island's road system exactly as it is at present, rumors report that they took satellite data and the ground elevations are accurate.

Well the game excels in the virtual representation department, including all the vehicles. The cars are all beautifully modeled, are all very detailed including the traffic vehicles. As for the playable cars interiors, these are really works of art!

Above all the game emits a wonderful wander-around feeling! You can either take a ride on the wild side doing slalom around , or just buy a Caterham Super 7 and head out for the mountains; you'll be amazed how they captured the feeling of freedom that the actual car gives you in reality! You'll feel in contact with nature, as the minimal cockpit exposes the passengers to the elements. Just bring a forest scented room odoriser near your pc and you have the whole package :)

Closing the chapter on the playable vehicles, the fact that I really liked, is that all the vehicles come in factory shape and remain as such. I mean that you won't see a dragon-like Nissan, or a Shark shaped Mazda with loads of vinyl crap on their paintwork. Also Apart from the modern models there is also the ability to buy some of the classics as well such as a Ferrari 288 GTO, a '69 Pontiac Firebird, a '69 Corvette Stingray, A Jaguar e-type etc.

Packing the exceptional environment works, the environmental sounds and effects are superb. maybe the tunnel mode needs a bit more work, as when you're stopped -engine switched off in a tunnel you don't hear anything. As for the actual car sounds, they are ok but they could have been a lot better and racey sound.

The economy of the game is laid out in such a way that you can easily-ish gather up a sum and buy a fairly decent set of wheels, or two or three, or more. Just watch your driving because hitting innocent traffic really pisses off the police and when they get on your tail and nail you, you're in for some deep pocket dipping! Talking about the in-game police system, the only thing that will drive them nuts is only if you hit traffic or police cars. They really don't give a damn if you pass red traffic lights, drive on the wrong side of the road, or pass in front of them with 240 klm on your speedo, the only thing that matters is to avoid hitting the traffic vehicles.

Going online proves to bring the other half of the game to life, as new options become available. Literally there's life blown into the virtual cosmos of the game, as you can engage other people in street racing, attend tournaments, or just cruise around the island and chat. Hehehe and they say that road rage is an anti-social phenomenon :D

The Bad
Well if there's one thing that bugs me, that is the handling of the cars. All the vehicles handle as if they refuse to stay on the road, not to mention about turning. It simply requires a lot of skill and practice to keep the vehicle on the road while you're speeding, as the slightest overturn will send you out of the road in milliseconds.

The actual road surface is so bumpy that feels like they have actually laid a layer of tarmac over the rough terrain without prior smoothing the ground surface. And that shows up in driving as your vehicle constantly bumps up and down making it extra difficult to grip some tarmac and turn. Thankfully, not all vehicles handle the same, but the lighter ones are much tougher to handle. Surely there's an effort there to bring a lot of realism into the game, but in my opinion that is not necessary for this game, or for any game for that matter, as what is the point for ultra realism when you actually cannot feel the real forces? Surely based on sight only cannot give you good reference as whether you'll make it in a turn or not, you have to feel the oversteer on your body in order to properly balance the car and therefore to appreciate realism. I would rather much enjoy it if they had the one button drifter game play is in the NFS series, rather than this.

Another drawback that gets m attentions is the lighting of the models and scenery. Although the lighting and shadows appear to be correct and almost photorealistic, the whole scenery appears to be high in contrast levels, which in conjunction with the antialiasing and image softening effects it leaves midtones and details unseen. What is the use of that? Certainly many times as you race through at maniac speeds it is very difficult to see where you're heading at, as the only you see in the road's horizon is a mass of dark shadows only to end up on a tree in the next second. Now combine all this to the constant road bumping and judge for yourself. Most of the times it is only luck that keeps you going.

The traffic's AI simply sucks... These guys are living on a planet of their own as they change lanes without looking for other incoming traffic, or they use the fast lane by going very slow... It all reminds me how we drive in reality here in Greece :D So I guess there's some good reality issue here hehe!

Finally all the visuals come with a price. So make sure you'

The Bottom Line
Although really suffering from an over wannabe realism, bad handling and lighting that looks good but is impractical for such driving, Test Drive Unlimited has some good things to offer. Although some times it offers a really frustrating experience, you'll definitely want to come back to try again and again.

One thing is sure, TDU has really raised the bar in the driving/racing simulations genre into the next generation. So the only good thing that we can expect from that is other companies and development teams to get it as an example and eventually develop better products.

There are some good major steps in this release in terms of game play and abilities such as, the online community that will spawn from this one and the vast racing ground that won't tire you easily.

The thing that I would really love to see happen on this one is the ability to customise and even build and model your own vehicles. That would make TDU really open ended like Flight Simulator, which in the end will only help establish a large community and fan base.

Windows · by SifouNaS (1309) · 2007

The passion is back!

The Good
For those who loved the openness of Test Drive III: The Passion, despite the horrendous driving experience, say hello to the driving game of your dreams. This game takes the 1990 concept and enhances it to 2006 specifications.

You are on an island.. Oahu, Hawaii, to be precise. Aside from the ocean, you have no driving boundaries, which is refreshing after the restrictions of Test Drives 4 through 6. There, one finds houses to store their cars (and bikes!) in, car dealers, rental agencies, tuner shops, hitchhikers, models eager for rides (what a place!), and of courses, races waiting to be started. Fortunately, the car customization isn't insane like NFS Underground, so one can focus on exploring the island in search of new cars and challenges. I don't do multiplayer, so I can't comment on that, but it's there and online races are fully supported.

The races are broken into solo time attacks with checkpoints, solo speed attacks with radar guns at various points, and standard races with multiple cars. In some time races, damaging the car will incur a small time penalty. Oddly, the most money seems to be made by delivering cars with no time limit at all, but those can be done only once, while the rest can be repeated. There are seven classes of cars, and five levels of race difficulty, which one reaches by progressing in the game. The cars are accurately modeled inside and out. The scenery is breathtaking. Even if a lot of the plant life is just sprites, the sheer amount of it makes it difficult to notice. The customization options on the characters are insane, with around a dozen face regions alone. That makes it more about the player's desires, and less about a fixed story character.

The Bad
The controls are a nuisance to change. By default they're keyboard, but as most people will opt for a gamepad, joystick, or steering wheel instead, there is no default setup for those devices. You must set up each new function individually, or as many as you can map to your new device. Some, like map zoom, cannot be remapped, so if you're like me and have a mouse with no scroll wheel, well, you can't zoom. Oddly, controls cannot be changed while in a challenge.

Much like Test Drive 3, the steering is too sensitive. Even with Driving Aid on, it is incredibly easy to spin out. There is a slider bar for sensitivity, but unfortunately no "dead zone" slider, so it will react to the slightest touch.

Also while in a challenge, one cannot abort or restart. If you mess up, then either wait out the clock, or if you have a driving meter, crash yourself down to zero.

The purpose of the police cars is a bit confusing. If you hit a passenger car, even with no cops in sight, they're dispatched after you, at which point you can lose them by any means except slowing down right next to them. Yet if you whizz by one at 180 mph, they don't react at all. "Have fun!", they seem to say.

I'm rather indifferent about all the clothes shopping.. but it would be nicer to get cash rewards from people instead. :)

The Bottom Line
Test Drive Unlimited offers the driving freedom of Grand Theft Auto without the violence or (most of) the crime. :) The world is very realistic (as it should be, the terrain came from real life data!). Unfortunately, the driving experience isn't as realistic, but at least you get a variety of cars and bikes to boot, and plenty of traffic to weave through. I wasted much of my teenage life touring the roads (and off-roads!) of California and New England in Test Drive III, and now that I'm driving in real life, I finally have a game which is a realistic escape.

Windows · by Andy Voss (1862) · 2011


1001 Video Games

Test Drive Unlimited appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


  • 4Players
    • 2006 – #2 Best Racing Game of the Year

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 26898


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sicarius.

PSP, PlayStation 2 added by rstevenson.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, tarmo888, Yearman, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, Victor Vance, FatherJack.

Game added March 8th, 2007. Last modified September 11th, 2023.