There it was, displayed in a gleaming showroom: the Bugatti Veyron. It was too expensive to buy, but a test drive was just a button press away.

Seconds later the Veyron was zooming through Test Drive Unlimited 2's recreation of Ibiza like a rocket with an engine roar to match. Thrilling enough to make anyone squeal 'SPEEEEED' like a pot-bellied Top Gear presenter.

Then came the corner and a brutal reminder of Test Drive's twitchy handling. The Veyron flew off the road and into the nearest tree with a dull thud. The moment captured the highs and lows of the game perfectly.

Test Drive dreams big. Very big. Two islands with more than 3000km of road to roam. More than 100 cars to drive, own and customise. And a bountiful supply of things to do from racing and exploring to facelifts and photography.

But its biggest idea is to tear down the wall separating solo and online play. You share the islands with other players so that even when concentrating on solo tasks, you just need to flash your headlights at a passer-by for some multiplayer fun.

It should have been brilliant. But it's not.

Time after time, the reality shatters the dreams. Iffy handling, scenery that pops up suddenly and abysmal cut scenes with puppet-like animation, hammy acting and dismal dialogue.

Topping it all is a server that struggles to support its fusion of single- and multiplayer. The day after release the game wouldn't even start because it couldn't log on. The situation is improving fast, but it still struggles at busy times.

Despite these flaws, Test Drive can still suck you in: its wealth of options and experiences providing a constant stream of time-gobbling distractions. You might go for a cruise around the island, then a pal calls with a mission that you decide to take on, but along the way you see a new car showroom and lose yourself testing out its wares.

But no matter how long you play, the flaws are always there reminding you of what Test Drive could have, should have, been.

Stuff says... 

Test Drive Unlimited 2 review

Plenty of options, but it's too much of a bumpy ride