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New Test Drive Unlimited Demo Storms Xbox Live Marketplace

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The summer months are slow for any console, but the Xbox 360 just got a new reason to stay turned on in the form of yet another playable demo of Atari's upcoming Test Drive Unlimited, which was released on Xbox Live Marketplace on August 21, 2006.

New bits are available for play both online and off, with up to eight players per race. Three new cars (the Ferrari F430, Ford Mustang GT Coupe, and AC 289) and a new bike (Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R) enter the fray now, too. Forty miles of road await on lush Oahu. Go forth and explore it.

TDU continues this recent trend of open-world racing, kicked off in Midnight Club, Smuggler's Run, and to a lesser extent Grand Theft Auto, but adds more emphasis to the online side of things. Apparently it's going for a MMO sort of feel, where thousands of players are omnipresent and can be invited into challenges at any time.

The Live Marketplace distribution has really helped the game so far. The demo released right after E3 was downloaded nearly 200,000 times in one week and was one of the most popular items on there at that point.

It's being billed as "revolutionary" and "unique" by other media outlets, but I've heard that about a lot of games before that have had mixed results at retail. Still, I'm optimistic and am always in the market for a good racer. Now, if I only had a 360…

Considering how fundamental Xbox Live is to the 360 and how it's used, releasing another downloadable demo seems like a good way to drum up some more enthusiasm prior to the game's retail release. It's also a good way to back up the hype and keep it running in the interim.

The final version of Test Drive Unlimited is set to release in stores on September 5, 2006, and sport 90 licensed vehicles, including cars and motorcycles and the usual array of customization bells and whistles we've come to expect. On top of that, monthly expansions will be available within six weeks of release, offering more cars and new radio stations to jam to while cruising the island.

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