Racing games haven’t really had a shake up in, well, forever. Sure we’ve got karting, simulation, and arcade entries, but they’re all fundamentally not too far removed from the Atari 2600’s Pole Position. Drive!Drive!Drive! is looking to change that, not by altering the fundamentals of racing, but by making you race on multiple tracks at the same time. It sounds completely mad, and when I read about the concept I tried with little luck to picture it in my mind. Yet, somehow, it does work.
This is an all-out arcade driving experience, where you pilot light and unbreakable cars around futuristic tracks with corkscrews and loops, while sections with no edges see you plummet into the ether. Gran Turismo this is not, but it is undoubtedly fun. Every race is on the final lap, and you switch between the multiple tracks by tapping up or down on the D-Pad, or holding X to select a specific one.
What it amounts to is racing plate spinning, and though the computer will get your car around the track when you’re not in control, it won’t do so particularly well. You find yourself leaping backwards and forwards trying to make up a few extra places, or knock a couple more cars off the track, in an effort to snatch enough places overall or accumulate enough points. There’s a lot of smashing into other cars, a bit like Burnout Revenge, and progression often revolves around crashing and bashing more than skilful driving.
Each of the ten different worlds feature multiple races for you to work your way through, ranging from straight up Time Trials where you have to finish within a swift time shared across all three tracks, to arcade levels where you’re rewarded for smashing into the opposition, drifting, jumping as well as your final placing.
The only mild problem is that on the Normal mode there isn’t a huge amount of challenge. It was a rare occasion that I had to repeat a level, apart from the crystal collection races that require you to be in first place on a particular course at a particular section. It’s easily sorted out by plumping for either Skilled or Elite difficulty, but regular racing game fans should perhaps make sure they do that at the outset.
Stylistically, Drive!Drive!Drive! has it nailed, both visually and aurally. Its muted tones and softly focussed, minimalist graphics are handsome without being overdone. It evokes memories of the original Tron movie and early wireframe titles, with the vehicles all looking like futuristic concept cars designed in the 1970’s. New cars unlock as you progress, with – as is traditional – the best motors reserved for further down the line.
Drive!Drive!Drive!’s soundscape from Zombi meanwhile is absolutely phenomenal, with ambient electronica giving way to aggressive synth-led rock themes, like Vince Dicola nustling up to Daft Punk while they play an all-night session of Mass Effect and Turrican II. Perhaps that’s over-egging the pudding, but the music is genuinely exciting and involving throughout.
Drive!Drive!Drive! is a stylish and fun attempt to rewrite the rulebook on racing games. Sadly it’s not always entirely successful, with a relatively simplistic handling model and a lack of challenge on the standard setting, but for those willing to take a chance there’s still a lot to like about it’s unique take on the racing genre.
Version Tested: PS4