Test Drive Unlimited 2 is the sequel to the open-world racing game Test Drive Unlimited. It is set on two islands: Ibiza and Oahu (the Hawaiian island that was also the setting of the first game). Oahu is only available after players have reached level 10, after which the airport is accessible. There are 60 levels in total (up to level 70 with the optional Casino DLC), which can be reached by collecting experience points in any of the following categories:
– Discovery (driving on all the roads and tracks, finding all hidden car wrecks, taking pictures of specific locations)
– Collection (buying cars and houses, decorating these with furniture and stickers, buying clothes, having plastic surgery)
– Competition (racing against others, both AI or real, completing challenges)
– Social (making friends, joining clubs).
You start out as a valet, dreaming of getting a luxurious car for your birthday until you get rudely awakened by the rich girl whose car you were supposed to bring around. She then decides to hire you to get her to a studio where she needs to be very soon, and if you perform well you can enter a racing competition named Solar Crown. Of course, to join the competition you’ll need to obtain a license first, which is done by attending a driving school and finishing a series of tasks and tests to prove you are worthy. As soon as you have obtained the license you are free to explore the first island. You can obtain more licenses to enter other competitions. Licenses and races come in several classes, for instance an A-license grants access to Asphalt challenges, B is for Off Road, and C for Classic. Each class is subdivided in subclasses e.g. 5 6 7 low high etc. You need to buy a car from that same category to join the challenges and championships.
The player’s vehicle is equipped with a so-called F.R.I.M. (Free Ride Instant Money) device, which allows them to earn some cash with which to buy cars, houses, upgrades, clothes etc. Passing other cars closely and/or at high speeds, jumping, drifting and other ‘dangerous’ driving fills a reward bar, that can be cashed in as soon as it reaches a certain amount or left to add to higher amounts, with the risk of losing it all when you hit something and crash. Cash can also be earned by completing races and challenges. Single-player challenges include driving someone who is prone to car sickness home, by driving carefully and not ‘jolting’ the car too much; driving a (luxurious) car to a garage for a lazy owner; following someone’s car at a discreet distance; driving someone around who wants you to stay above a certain speed and driving someone around who wants you to drive dangerously to get his adrenaline flowing.
A weather system and a day/night cycle influence the number of traffic on the road and your grip, if it rains or there are puddles you will skid in corners. In offline mode, a couple of AI drivers drive around which you can challenge to a quick race (for a 1000 dollar in-game stake, as well as experience points), whereas in online mode you can do the same with real opponents. You can also cooperate in several coop challenges. The game also has AI police officers who can give you a ‘warning’ if they see you run a red light, drive against traffic or cause an accident. A ‘traffic violation’ bar will pop up on your screen. This will disappear after a while unless you violate the law again in the time the meter is shown. Then they come and chase you and you need to pay a fine if they catch you. At times, the police can call you on your mobile phone to join in a coop police chase. If you accept, you get to drive in a police car to hunt down a traffic offender.
The game has several difficulty settings, which influence for instance the amount of aid you get while driving, manual transmission or automatic gearbox and an ideal line projected on the roads during certain challenges. Some cars are more difficult to drive than others, and you can take them out for a test drive from the car shops you gradually discover on the islands. There are also tuners that can upgrade cars, and sticker shops to create a personalized car.