Coming from Different Cloth, Drive!Drive!Drive‘s basic premise provides much intrigue. It’s a racing game with the twist being you race on multiple tracks at the same time. When I heard of this concept, I wondered just how this could be achieved.
In short, you race on one level whilst having the option to switch between tracks, managing several races at once. In your absence, the AI drives until you switch. It works, to a point. The handling is easy to grasp. Drifting is initiated by hitting both triggers and then steering and a boost offers plentiful opportunities to pull away or close gaps. A quick tutorial explains and demonstrates the controls in a simple manner and then you’re left to tackle campaign mode. It feels like a tight arcade experience and you’ve a few ways to play across fifty events.
Some provide more joy than others. Arcade races task you with score challenges and you rack up points via drifting, smashing and jumping through races. It’s a very Burnout-esque excursion that is probably Drive!Drive!Drive! at its best. Time Trials pit you against the clock and I find this mode almost makes the multiple track aspect an afterthought. I tend to set a time on one layer and then hit the finish on the remaining ones.
Collection events task you with gathering gems before the opposition. This means you’re trying to effectively hit the front and grab what you can, switching tracks when the gems dry up. All of these events introduce themselves to you pretty well but I leave the Purist mode until last as, this mode is where problems can arise.
It’s considered Drive!Drive!Drive‘s showcase mode and focuses on quick switching and managing position. In simple terms, this is the mode where race control and multitasking comes most into play. You’re required to finish as high as possible and the unpredictable nature of the AI comes into sharp focus.
You can leave them in first but it’s no guarantee of success as they crash, get turned around and fly off jumps into the abyss. As you progress through the campaign and the stakes are raised, these errors magnify to destructive degrees. When you succeed in some late-game Purist runs, you can put it down to luck more than skill. Sometimes, all you can do is put your best foot forward and hope for errors ahead of you.
The game provides great feedback, mind. Each cars’ position appears in the bottom-right corner of the screen so you can intervene as positions slip and a mini-map displays where traffic lies. There’s no immunity when you switch so you can and will Quantum Leap into accidents. The camera doesn’t offer much in the way of perspective. You’re locking to a standard chase angle which doesn’t offer much foresight. A little more of an overview would be nice when considering what you have to keep track of.
Events come and go quickly. All races take place over a single lap which helps alleviate some frustration. As you’re effectively finishing up two or more circuits, it makes sense to keep these tasks as short and sweet as possible. Restarts are almost instant and necessary as you reach the business end of a two-hour campaign. In many ways, I’m glad the finish line comes up so suddenly as the nature of the racing is so haphazard and random. I enjoyed it in spurts but certainly came to some moments of deadlock and anger. There is a further campaign with tougher challenges on offer, if you want more to proceed with.
Drive!Drive!Drive has great style. Zombi have provided an electronic soundtrack that gels with the wire-frame, futuristic aesthetics. There’s a variety to the tracks that all take place in unique worlds full of colour, spins and twirls. It’s a very cohesive package.
The addition of a track editor provides some extension to the game’s run-time. It’s a simple, tile-based affair that’s easy enough to use and some of the early creations by the community have been great to drive around. The community itself feels like a small bunch of prolific creators so hopefully they’ll continue to push content out. Multiplayer races are not happening at the moment.
Whilst the racing is frantic and swift, the concept of spinning plates on a track doesn’t hit as well as it should. Inconsistent AI leads to races being decided by luck and, whilst the community look to bolster the content on offer, the campaign mode is over in a couple of hours. Those wanting it will find enjoyment from the track editor but there’s an underlying frustration which undermines Drive!Drive!Drive’s greater moments.