Having had a good bitch session about what TDU2 (Test Drive Unlimited 2) got wrong, I’d like to discuss the game in more detail, and go over what they got right.
As I’ve mentioned before, when I have a sandbox game at my disposal (whether it be a Grand Theft Auto style, or a driving game like Burnout Paradise, or TDU2) I spend most of my time exploring the world, and only occasionally bother with missions, races or whatever other diversions are offered. What this means is that all of my complaining about time spent waiting for a race to start, or to retry, doesn’t mean a lot because that’s such a small part of the game for me.
On the other hand, when I do attempt races of any sort, I remember why I bitched about it. Oops, sorry. This is supposed to be about what they got right.
Since I’m talking about exploring, then I should talk about why I’m enjoying it. While discovering stores, wrecks and the like certainly ads a bit of interest, it’s mainly the landscape and the roads that I’m enjoying. The scenery is incredibly varied with places such as: deep mountain valleys, seaside towns, camping areas, quiet lagoons, cities, industrial areas, quiet country roads and so on. Added to this is the changing weather and time of day which means the scenery is constantly changing. With the various lighting effects of sun through the clouds, or reflecting off the roads, it’s a very pretty game.
Continuing on the theme of exploring, TDU2 is huge. Exploring just one island would take a long time, exploring two? A mega long time (tell me if I’m getting too technical here). A consequence of this is that if you want to get from one part of an island to another it takes yet another long time. If all you want to do is race, or visit a certain store, then this can be a long, tedious process.
The designers have thought about this, however, and allow you to use the map screen to “quick travel” to any point you’ve already explored. This includes both locations, such as houses and stores, and the roads themselves. Of course, you still have to have driven the area first, however I find this a good compromise.
I was planning to write an article on the difference between TDU and TDU 2, but most what I was going to say is going in here. Also, remember I’m talking about the single player experience here, and not the ‘online experience’ – though the line is blurred a little with TDU2. I may write about online sometime when (if) I’ve played around with it.
Events are far more structured in TDU2, rather than being scattered all over the roads. For a start, you need to get a licence for a particular race type. There are two ‘C’ (Classic) licences, four ‘B’ type (offroad) and seven ‘A’ type (Asphalt). To competed in the appropriate class you need to have that class licence, and a car from that class. This means that you start out ‘gently’ with only one race type available, then you gain more licences, cars and races as you progress.
Class races are grouped into ‘Championships’, which is usually six different events under that class. To win a championship, you need to pick up the most points. For each event you get 10 points for a win, 8 for second and so on. This means you don’t need to come first in every event to win the Championship – which I like as it means that you can “step on” even if one or two events are giving you problems. Of course, you can also come back later and try the Championship again.
This structure works to TDU2’s benefit, I think, as I often felt lost or without enough to do in TDU. It also stops it from being too overwhelming for a new player, and leads them from the easier races/cars through to the harder/faster ones.
I’m sure anyone that played Grand Theft Auto: IV (GTAIV) and disliked the constant calls from friends will be wincing at this particular mechanic. As part of leading you through the game structure, and introducing new races, game mechanics and more, you’ll get a call on your mobile phone. You then have the option of setting your GPS destination to whatever place the caller is talking about, or ignoring it.
At first, this was helpful, then I began to find it annoying, as I was usually already on my way somewhere when they called. However, it appears that the game recognises when you’re doing “official things” and calls you more often just after you’ve finished (say) a Championship, then eventually the calls are very few and far between as you Free Ride and ignore the calls. I suspect that’s probably the best compromise here.
I’m sure I’ll find more to gush/bitch about later. For now, however, I’ll keep exploring the world, and maybe do a race or two. Maybe.