Test Drive Unlimited 2 Performance Analysis & first 18 minutes of gameplay footage

By on February 8, 2011

Atari has released Test Drive Unlimited 2 that is developed by Eden Games, as was the first part. TDU2 uses a new game engine and it’s time to see if and how optimized this engine actually is. Was it worth building a new engine or would it be wiser to enhance the previous with more features? And did they address the multi-GPU problems that most of PC gamers were complaining about?

For our analysis purposes, we used a Q9650 @ 4.2Ghz, 4GB DDR2, a GTX295 and Windows 7 64Bit with the latest ForceWare drivers. As with its predecessor, TDU2 doesn’t take advantage of the multi-GPU systems. This, obviously, means trouble for all the SLI/Crossfire users. To make things worse, there is a negative penalty if you run the game with multi-GPU enabled, especially in Crossfire systems. We thought that Eden Games would address this issue but they didn’t bother. It makes you wonder though. Why there was a closed beta if those major performance issues weren’t addressed? And if it’s an engine limitation, why didn’t Eden Games build their new engine with multi-GPU’s in mind, especially after all those complaints about the first game’s limited support?

Furthermore, the engine behaves really… strange. We monitored both our CPU and GPU usage. As we can see, TDU2 supports multicores but doesn’t take full advantage of them. Cores 1 and 3 were at around 60-70%, whereas Cores 0 and 2 were at 50% usage. This shows that we are not CPU limited. What is interesting though is the rendering system of this new engine. Even though we run the game in Single GPU mode, we can see some activity in the first core. What is even weirder is that the GPU usage increased when we lowered our resolution and disabled the AA. In the following screenshots you can see the same scene in 720p without AA and in 1080p with 4xAA. Both screenshots are with Very High settings. As we’d expect, vRAM is higher in 1080p with 4xAA but pay attention to the first GPU core. In 720p the GPU usage is 48%, whereas in 1080p is 34%. Again we should note that we are running the game in Single GPU mode (so this basically means that the first core should be at 0%) and there wasn’t any activity in our background. But forget for a second the first GPU core. We disabled the AA and dropped our resolution from 1080p to 720p and the GPU usage of our second, main core decreased only 8%? This is hilarious to say the least. The new rendering engine is a mess, plain and simple.

Graphics wise, the game looks similar to the first part. There is a better view distance and a nice lighting system, but most of the cars look blocky. Textures are ok for the most part and there are some clever shading effects. Motion blur is present, albeit a bit overused. Although we have some well detailed characters, TDU2 is a racing game and its main attraction is the cars themselves. So they should be more detailed, right? But for crying out loud, look at the backlights of the Lotus car. Some of the vehicles are highly detailed, but we can’t help noticing the ugly design of this Lotus car that is offered in the beginning of the game. At least the car damage, visually, is better. Don’t expect though to see flying wheels. Weather effects are average, especially if you’ve been spoiled by GT5 or F1 2010 and most of the time, the cities seem empty. All in all, TDU2 looks dated and its requirements are way high for what it offers.

Enjoy the following first 18 minutes of gameplay footage. Here you can see the character selection and your first assignment. We used a Logitech Momo racing wheel and chose the hardcore driving mode with manual shifting. Pay attention at 14:29 where we are spinning the car. The handling is tight and highly enjoyable, especially if you set properly your driving wheel. We highly recommend tweaking the deadzone and the wheel sensitivity to your likes, or else the car behavior will feel a bit weird.

About David Scarpitta

I am a critical guy, and love to review and give my professional opinion on just about anything. Though have a love for tech/gaming and music alongside the cinema. You can catch me consulting and developing the net any day of the week.
  • http://nokia5800-xpressmusic.blogspot.com/ Abhishek Jain

    i just installed TDU 2 and my card is ATI Radeon HD5670 but game is not coming fullscreen and also there is a problem in framrates. Plz be advice.

  • john2

    Press “Alt + Enter” to enter in fullscreen mode ;).

    As for the framerate issues. What CPU do you have? TDU2 takes advantage of quadcores so if you have a dualcore, it’s natural to have lower framerates. Disable Vsync and lower the resolution. If you still have performance issues, lower your quality settings. It would also be wise to have the latest version of Catalyst drivers. If nothing of the above works, wait for a patch (when and if Eden Games release one).

    • Jericho

      If it takes advantage of quad cores then it would appropriate to list the “recommended specs” as quad core not dual core. When you see the recommended specs are listed as dual which they are, you should expect a full 60fps experience on a dual core.

  • Jericho

    The Aston Martins look cheaply done too like the Lotus. Then you look at the Ford Shelby GT 500 which looks awesome and very detailed. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage was one of my favorite cars from the first one, in TDU2 not only does it look cheap but they gave it bad handling too. With that car it’s like GTAIV you have to use the handbrake to make a turn even when you’re not going that fast. In TDU1 the V8 Vantage had incredible handling. Then I think about how they left the custom music option out along with not being able to sell your cars. Kinda makes you wonder if they did it intentionally.