Drive!Drive!Drive! Review – Eyes on the Road (PS4)
2016 has been a solid year for racing games as Dirt Rally brought a difficult realism to its off-road courses, and Forza Horizon 3 offered a prettier version of what fans had come to expect from the series. Despite this, none of the offerings have really clicked for me, as realism doesn’t often equate to being enjoyable, and very few games had impressed me by offering up something new. Thankfully, Drive!Drive!Drive! manages to provide a fresh twist on one of gaming’s most established genres.
Drive!Drive!Drive! isn’t just a fun, and rather eccentric, title to say, it’s also representative of the game’s major twist. Developer Different Cloth’s racing game separates itself from the rest of the genre by allowing players to race on several tracks at the same time. Typically it breaks down to three separate races (thus the name) that all have to be managed at the same time.
If you’re like me, then you’ll find this idea incredibly fascinating but also very daunting. After all, I have trouble keeping track of all of the variables of a race on a single course let alone multiple ones at once. Thankfully, it’s not as complex as it may first appear and it becomes very rewarding having to learn to drive in a completely new way.
Due to the mechanic of switching tracks (which can be done either in real-time by pressing up or down on the directional pad or by stopping time by pressing the cross button), races in Drive!Drive!Drive! are much more about management than finding the best line. Cars are controlled by the computer when not under direct control, and while the A.I. is fine, it doesn’t use any boost (which is earned by smashing into other cars and drifting around corners) and often gets passed up by other cars. That meant that I had to switch cars every few seconds in order to make sure each car stayed competitive in their respective races.
This leads to a strange, sort of disjointed experience compared to other racing games. I would often get all of my cars to first place off the bat by using up the default boost and then switch whenever I would see one of my cars start to lose positions. From there, I would start wrecking into vehicles to gain boost, then use that extra speed to get back into first place and continue on.
This type of experience, which is so much about watching the UI, could quickly grow tedious if the racing didn’t feel great. Thankfully, the actual driving in Drive!Drive!Drive! is just as solid as the idea it’s based on. Each of the game’s 10 different cars (which are unlocked in the campaign mode) control slightly differently, but they all have a solid arcade feel to them. They control a bit stiff, so don’t expect Ridge Racer drifts, but I got used to it early on and really enjoyed driving each car in these short bursts.
The campaign splits 50 different tracks into four event types. The sort of default racing event is a race where players are graded upon their overall finishing position. For example, if the player has to get a six or better to pass then they’ll have to make sure they finish in the top two in every race (or get two first-place finishes and a fourth place one). Other events focus on scoring points via drifts and wrecks, collecting items that appear on the track, and getting the fastest time.
Drive!Drive!Drive! is all about variety, and that’s why the game was able to keep my attention. One race I would have to constantly switch tracks in order to collect diamonds, while the next race I was in a challenging time trial. There was always a different goal, and I appreciated Different Cloth’s attempt at keeping things fresh. I feel like there is room for even more experimentation, and would’ve liked to have seen each individual track have a different goal during a race, but I was entertained for all 50 events of the campaign.
Once the campaign is finished and all of the cars are unlocked (including a giant truck that is great for wrecking fools), the player has a lot of options at their disposal. They can either go back and try to better their scores at the events they’ve already done (which have leaderboard support and medals that can be earned) at various difficulties, or take on the game’s Offensive mode. The latter offering is an even more challenging campaign filled with 50 additional levels. It really ramps up the difficulty, and is for pros only.
While the unique racing is the appeal here, Drive!Drive!Drive! is a content-rich, fully featured package. There’s a great track builder that players can use to create their own tracks using pre-made pieces, and I had a lot of fun making stages full of loops and corkscrews. These can then be published online for other players to check out.
There’s also a four-player multiplayer mode that allows competitive play. It’s only available online, as it’s already too hectic for local play, and sadly that’s where the issue comes in. It’s really hard to find a match online, so don’t expect this to replace Mario Kart 8 as the most fun arcade racer you can regularly play online. This issue can be circumvented if you have friends to play with, just know that matches aren’t exactly plentiful during the time I was playing, at least.
Drive!Drive!Drive! provides a fresh idea in a very established genre that doesn’t often see them anymore. While it’s easy to dismiss the track-switching action as a gimmick, it actually adds a whole different dimension to racing. There’s a lot to like here, and any racing fans that are growing tired of seemingly playing the same games repeatedly will want to check this one out.
Review code for Drive!Drive!Drive! provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.