Recently we had a chance to fire off a few questions to Melbourne House - an Australian based developer who are responsible for the PS2 and PSP releases of the latest in the Test Drive series, Test Drive Unlimited.
There has been quite some time between the Xbox 360 and PS2 release. What improvements if any can players find on the PS2 game, and how can you improve on a game which debuted on the most powerful platform available at the time?
There are some differences between the two platforms, so we should note a few of the things you won't see in the PS2 version of Test Drive Unlimited. Due to the technical differences between the Xbox 360 and the PS2, we had to leave out some of the Xbox 360 version's features: online trading, motorcycles, user-created races and avatar customization.
But not to worry - we've made up for those omissions with some amazing new features! The PS2 version is using Melbourne House's highly specialized "Racing Engine" for car handling, the same engine that grew up through DethKarz, GP500, LeMans and Grand Prix Challenge. The cars have all been hand-tuned for PS2 and they have definite personalities - from the heavy US muscle cars to the nimble Lotus, or the insane acceleration and wheelspin of the Supercars. TDU PS2 will suit both newcomers and
hard-core racers, and everyone will have their own favorite car that handles just the way they like.
One of the biggest features of the Xbox game was the online section. The PS2's online infrastructure is no where near as well built as the Xbox Live network. What challenges have you found on the PS2 version with regards to this feature?
TDU PS2 took a lot more QA and testing to make sure it was stable and playable. You'll remember that another popular racing title tried this years ago, but that all had to be cut out of the game.
There is also a PSP version in development. What features have you built into the PSP game to make it more friendly to the portable gamer?
For PSP we left out a large portion of the "story" and made the game a bit more accessible in terms of options for quicker, on-the-fly games. What's unique about the PSP here is that there's a large online community that can be utilized and focuses on online play, other PSP games don't take advantage of the massive universe that the TDU PSP world offers.
How many players are supported on the PS2 version of the online play?
The number of players on the screen for PS2 at any given time is the same as the 360. Eight players on the screen at any one time, and up to 1000 "dots" representing other online players while in map mode.
Where do you go with the Test Drive franchise next? There is no doubt that this game is a return to form so do you make TDU2 or something else?
We are building on the success of Test Drive Unlimited and although there is no specific information available to the public yet, but we're working on some amazing new features.
TD as a series has been around a long time. Where do you see it in a few years, and where do you see the racing genre headed in this new generation of systems?
Over the years the quality of this franchise gone up and down. However, with Test Drive Unlimited Atari has taken a major step forward in racing evolution. We plan to stay ahead of the curve from here out.
Thanks to Melbourne House for lending some of their time! Look out for TDU on the PSP April 27th, and TDU on the PS2 March 22 (i.e. available now).