Go back to Test Drive Unlimited

Written by: Rik

Date posted: December 15, 2013

Much of TDU is rather ridiculous really, but you feel it most when undertaking missions rather than races. Let’s start with ‘giving people a lift for no apparent reason’ – i.e. picking up hitchhikers and ‘top models’.

The very phrase ‘top models’ hints at some potentially troubling gender politics, and it’s true that they utter some truly cringe-inducing dialogue (I suppose the phrase, “Hey, I’m really hot and sweaty…hope you don’t mind!” could be uttered out of genuine concern for your vehicle’s upholstery, but somehow I doubt it). On the whole, though, I think it’s all fairly innocent stuff – a female avatar will receive the same kinds of comments as a male one, and react in the same way (a ludicrous fist-pump) when your lift is successful, leading you to conclude that the whole thing is actually a rather sterile and sexless celebration of skilful driving rather than anything more seedy. (Either that or it’s pandering to a predictable male fantasy involving a couple of women).

Anyway, you have a driving meter for ‘top model’ challenges, which means that if you stray from the road or crash, you’ll lose points and your passenger will utter some vague expression of discomfort or dissatisfaction. “*gasp*…slow down!” seems to be a favoured response to you driving like a maniac, although to be fair, you wouldn’t have to drive so fast if they didn’t need to get across town in less than 90 seconds.

The hitchhiker missions are largely the same, although the lifts are usually longer and the time limits less demanding. But it seems your avatar is as eager to please jobless male drifters as professionally good-looking women, as he/she will celebrate success with the same emphatic punch of the air (“Yes! I really impressed that hitchhiker!”). But while it does sort of make sense that, ahem, ‘top models’ might have access to clothing vouchers, it isn’t quite so obvious why these random men would have them to give away. Payment for their last gig in lieu of cash, perhaps?

The other major difference is that hitchhikers aren’t so bothered about what car you drive, whereas some of the (apologies) ‘top models’ are altogether more demanding – some require a specific make of car, others will only accept a lift if you’re driving one vehicle in particular. Using the car-hire places can sometimes do the trick, but at other points it’s a case of deciding whether you want to buy a car just to give someone a lift. It’s a lot to ask for a few more clothing vouchers – plus, once you own 10 Ben Sherman shirts, where else is there to go?

Courier missions raise a faint smirk as the opening cut-scene typically involves a shady character in shades and a vest handing you a parcel while telling you not to ask any questions. At $40k a package, I suppose you’d better not. Still, such rewards are nothing compared to the ludicrous sums paid for vehicle delivery. “You’ll take it to get repaired?” asks an extremely naive man in a suit. Well, yeah, for $90k I will. You could probably buy a new car for that though. Also, having driven your car, I don’t think it needs to be repaired at all.

And so on. Of course, it’s not meant to make sense. But even so, it’s all rather silly.

(Apparently Test Drive Unlimited 2 has an actual story, with unintentionally hilarious results, but I haven’t played that one yet).