One of the wonderful things about the XBOX 360 is the way that you can download demos of games. Actually, this is probably not wonderful, more like expensive. I've already bought a couple of games on the back of this "feature". Darn it.
In the old days I had to wait until a magazine with a coverdisk came out. Nowadays I just leave the machine chugging for a couple of hours whilst the next potential wallet buster comes down the wires.
And so, I downloaded the demo of Test Drive Unlimited. This is a driving game. Actually, game is probably a bit of an understatement. It is more like a better version of life. You start off with a massive house in Hawii and a few cars in the garage. You look a lot cooler than you really do (at least in my case), and you seem to have a lot more spare time.
So you go for a drive. You can drive anywhere on the island. Happen you'll meet up with another driver, who may or may not be a real person. Happen you'll have a race. Happen you'll go the wrong way round the track, get hopelessly lost and embarras yourself. Or you might be more lucky than me. Anyway, if you win, money changes hands and you can save up for a new, even shinier car.
And so it goes on. The weather changes, the time of day changes. The road goes on, seemingly for ever. There are no loading screens. There is no slowdown. You can use your GPS to find things of interest and you can also meet up with your chums for races. When you sit in the car, you sit in the car. You can even make the windows go up and down.
The car handling is realistic enough to be annoying. You can crash into things and do damage to them, but not apparently to yourself. If you are sufficiently naughty the police might want to take you to task. If you are feeling brave you can get on a motorbike instead.
When I first played Oblivion, the massive XBOX 360 roleplaying game, I was impressed by the way that the world was totally believable, and massive. Test Drive Unlimited is like that, but with cars and no loading delays at all. Folks, this is proper next generation gaming. Not a flashier version of an existing game, but a whole new immersive experience. If you have an XBOX 360 you should at least get hold of the demo of this game. Then, like me, you can start saving for the real thing...