Next month, thousands of kids and adults around the world will be able to jump in a Lamborghini and speed through rural Ka’a’awa. Or cruise through Waikiki in a Mercedes. Or try and read a Kamehameha Highway sign while flying past at 150 miles per hour. These fantasies and more will be at their fingertips through Test Drive Unlimited, a much-anticipated video game due out next month that’s set on Oahu and boasts detailed 3-D renderings of over 1,000 miles of Honolulu roads. Racing games are immensely popular in the gaming community, and the recently revived Atari game company is somewhat late to enter the fray. But Test Drive Unlimited developed by Eden Studios hopes to make a splash by expanding what a racing game can be, and boosting the ways and numbers in which players can interact online. Players can race competitively with hundreds of others via on online component, or just sightsee at their leisure. Or, they can buy parts to upgrade their choice of over 150 cars and motorcycles, and even buy a house and garage in which to park them.
The game is described as a “sandbox,” in which players make their own game. They can buy and sell from each other, challenge or form clubs with each other, and design their own races and competitions. They can design their own character, right down to determining ear size, and buy designer clothes.
In an interview with the Honolulu Advertiser, Eden Studios producer Ahmed Boukhelifa said the game has been in the works for three years, and that reproducing Honolulu required both detailed geographic and road data as well as five days of nonstop driving around the island. He said O’ahu was perfect for a new breed of racing game, a defined space that wasn’t too big but full of different settings. “It packs all the roads one could think of and design, from highways to scenic coastal roads, from narrow mountain roads to downtown,” Boukhelifa said. “It’s all there.”
A game map and several example scenes are available on the game’s official website. Test Drive Unlimited will initially be available only for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 system, but versions for other platforms are in the works.