January 12th, 2007, 23:10 Posted By: wraggster
The Test Drive series has banked and rolled over more ups and downs than a mountainside race course over the years. Most recently, the series peaked with Test Drive Unlimited - an epic, sprawling and open-ended racer that crammed the entire Hawaiian island of Oahu, mapped to within one metre of the actual geography.
However, under the hood lay the structure of a very cool and innovative massively-multiplayer racer, too, combining the depth of a semi-serious racer containing tuning and upgrades, with the social and competitive joys of an online RPG. The amazing detail of the massive driving area was handled ably on the Xbox 360 hardware. However, there were definitely teething problems with the online matchmaking and friend-finding, and after unlocking the wickedly fast motorcycles, it was easy to exploit the unbalanced vehicle line-up to kick all sorts of ass online.
How does the PSP version stack up? That's the burning question of the moment. Is it even possible to create an adequate adaptation of such a mammoth title on a handheld? And is the online infrastructure at all similar? Let's dive in and find out.
God knows how they've done it, but they've done it. Melbourne House, that sage studio of Australian game development, has crammed just about all of the features of the Xbox 360 version onto Sony's handheld. What's more, while the graphics engine lacks the sophistication of the full-sized version, it still captures the lush palm forests, beach fronts and rolling hills of Oahu. The roads, all 1000-plus kilometres of them, are populated by plenty of traffic and the draw distance is mind-boggling. Truly, this is a faithful representation of the Unlimited world. Insane.
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