Blood Drive Xbox 360, PS3
No matter how good or bad a game is, there is always a moment when it peaks, and you feel like you’ve seen everything of worth it has to offer. The sad fact for Blood Drive is that this moment comes after only 15 minutes play. The further I forced myself past that point, the more I soured against the few things the game did right.
Essentially, the initial concept seems much more interesting than what the final product turned out to be. If you squint (a lot), you can kind of see where the developer, Sidhe (previously of Shatter fame), could have got excited upon its initial conception; shooting at, and blowing up countless cars, whilst mowing down a dizzying amount of zombies should great fun. However, even if you turn your brain off at the door, which is a necessity to enjoy such an absurd game, it is hard to find much to like about Blood Drive.
The game models itself after the retro stylings of Carmageddon and Destruction Derby, with a bit of Twisted Metal thrown in for luck. It is a simple effort, based around the arena based car combat of those games that was all the rage a decade or so ago. The meat of the single player game is tournament mode, where you pick a character from a stereotypical lineup of rogues – whose attributes seem to be limited to slow speed but with strong armor, or fast with weak armor. You then enter events and battle it out. That all sounds decent enough, albeit highly unoriginal, but where the game ultimately fails is that it offers only 3 different modes to partake in: checkpoint race, capture the skull (hold onto the skull for the longest time), and a “lets shoot at things” mode where you win by blowing up the most zombies or the most cars. So, even though there are loads of events to enter, set across a few differently styled arenas, playing those three unchanging modes time after time gets highly monotonous and kills enjoyment quickly.
Repetitiveness is not the only low point; everything of importance for a game with driving at its core seems to struggle as well. Controls are erratic, and even after some time with the game, I never felt like I could trust them. This was especially evident with the faster cars, as they’d shoot all over the place with the smallest twitch of the controller. None of the arenas are that much fun to play in either, with all of them flat, uneventful, and tiresome to navigate. They all have some ramps scattered around, that play a Dukes of Hazard horn noise when you drive over them. It speaks volumes that something so corny and clichéd ends up been one the more interesting parts of the game.
Technically the game is horrid, and excels at finding new ways to annoy, but at times does amuse. It is filled with all kinds of bugs. There was quite a few times I got trapped behind scenery, and as I was unable to escape, I then had to wait for zombies to come over to smash my car up so I could respawn again. There were also times I respawned up in the air, with my car spinning around like a helicopter for some ludicrous reason. This was somewhat amusing, and got a chuckle out of me for the first few times, but when I noticed it happened with some regularity it started to annoy – especially seeing as all events in the game have a timer, and taking around ten seconds to fall to the ground and get going again is not helpful.
There is some multiplayer too, with all the single player modes available to play online, but crucially no one ever seems to be playing. I tried to create a quick game countless times over my few play sessions, and always got a “no games found” message. I hosted a game once, which puts you into a session with bots until someone else comes along, and one person shockingly joined me. It was amazing! I thought some other human bought the game, and took the time to play it online! We chatted a bit, and I quickly found out he too was playing the game “for review purposes.” I never did find out what publication he works for though. Hopefully he gives me a mention too! Now I still wonder has any real person gone out and bought this game?
There are a few decent things to mention. The announcer who introduces and commentates on races is a nice touch. He plays the same role as DJ Stryker in the Burnout games, and is equally (if not more) OTT in his commentary, but never seems to get as annoying as Stryker did. He could have done a good job at selling the on-screen action to players – that is if the action existed in the first place. The pause screen, yes the pause screen, is great too… no really it is. You could chill out to it after a hard day’s work, but apart from that there is not much else I could praise.
Shatter took the age-old block-breaking arcade games of yesteryear and updated them to something highly playable in today’s gaming climate. Blood Drive is the polar opposite, taking bottom of the barrel ideas from ten to fifteen years ago, and reusing them in a package that ends up being worse than what it tried to imitate. I am not saying the likes of Carmageddon and Destruction Derby are the best gaming ever offered us, but back in the day they had a little glint about them that made them highly playable. Blood Drive has got nothing of the sort. At times it evokes some nostalgic memories from a generation gone, but ultimately it fails to match the standards those titles set back in their heyday.