With the driving out of the way let me take you on a tour of the MMO side of the game. When I say MMO I really mean that TDU2 has a self-populating world and within this world you have an avatar that you can level up and customize. You are able to free roam throughout Ibiza in all of its glory, and for the most part the view is beautiful. You can drive anywhere, buy new cars, outfits and even real estate - all of which contribute to your Global Level and unlock customization options. Your character’s level is based on four distinct categories:
- Competition (racing, completing challenges)
- Social (making friends in the game, race against other people, joining clubs, gambling)
- Discovery (discover all roads, take photographs of specific locations, find all car wrecks)
- Collection (buy cars, houses, furniture, clothing/basic needs)
On the surface it seems like a cool way to experience the game and try to immerse the player in a beautifully crafted world. However, this system drops dead because NONE OF THESE TASKS ARE FUN TO DO. “You want to go start the next mission? Oh you can’t because you need to go buy some new shoes so you don’t look like a homeless person.” What I’m trying to state is that all I wanted to do was race but the game was making it very difficult to do so by putting barriers in front of me that were supposed to act as the carrot at the end of the stick that we gamers love.
When I hooked up with friends within the Test Drive Unlimited 2 world we explored the various multiplayer modes. One cool aspect is how you invite other players within the city to race, all you have to do is tap the A button to flash your high beams and you instantly challenge them. What really felt great was the ability to free roam with a pack of your friends, find a great spot to race, and immediately challenge each other to a car duel. Saying that there is “co-op” in the game is the most disappointing feature that I found, hands down. I really would not even call TDU2 a cooperative experience because there are only two things that you can do cooperatively. One mode has your co-op partner riding shotgun, wait for it...acting as your navigator. That’s it. Turn off your annoying GPS and grab a buddy because you now have yourself your very own navigator!
The other modes have each player in their own car and actually have to do with racing. Keep the Distance has each player staying within the distance of a couple of yards with car next to you, or if you’re the leader then the car behind you. Follow the Leader is a checkpoint race where the leader can see the next checkpoint and once he has crossed that checkpoint the team members will be given a certain amount of time to cross that checkpoint. Both race types are quite fun with some friends but it would have been great to have a more well developed and explored co-operative mode. Both modes allow up to 8 cars to take part.
Regardless of the driving mechanics and a lacking online experience, TDU2 is riddled with bugs that caused me to finally put down the game. Sometimes the world would crash into the ocean (quite literally) and other times fellow racers would not even spawn until the race had already begun. I can deal with some bugs, but when I try and get on the servers to play online and I am consistently denied because they are ‘offline’ that is enough for me. The online stability would not be such a big issue if the game did not rely on such a heavy online component. It is really too bad because there was an immense amount of potential that I saw within the game. While most of these are fixed by now, we still had issues almost a full month after release.
The beautiful world of Ibiza is yours to be explored, if you can get past the ugly character models and terrible driving mechanics. I’m all for a living world that give you more to do than just race, but it needs to be more accessible and actually fun to do all the little extra things. Playing the game online must be done with friends unless you want to be driven away by random griefing players and don’t think for once that you are going to get a full coop experience out of this game because it is a joke. What is comes down to is that Test Drive Unlimited 2 is a racing game and the driving is lacking the visceral feel of rubber on pavement. There are some good ideas in this game but TDU2 just does not pull them off and it gets eaten alive by the bugs that are simply game breaking.
The Co-Op Experience: There are two co-op modes to play - Keep the DistanceYou will have to stay within the distance of a couple of yards with car next to you, or if you’re the leader then the car behind you. Yes, it sounds dashing! The faster your team will go, the more points you earn.Follow the LeaderIn every race, the leader can see the next checkpoint. Once he has crossed that checkpoint the team members will be given a certain amount of time to cross that checkpoint. Difficulty of this mode depends on the leader of the pack.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.