Impressions: Blood Drive

Ever looked at a tricked-out automotive deathtrap then back at a zombie, and think “I want to run over that thing?” Apparently someone did. And so we have Blood Drive, an ingenious combination of vehicular combat and zombie slaying, and I’m actually quite surprised in the wake of the recent surge in popularity of the shambling undead that this hadn’t been done to this scale before now. Then again, considering the low-quality, rampant stereotypes, and mediocrity this game exudes, perhaps maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised. Sidhe Interactive, responsible for the considerably more competent downloadable offering Shatter, just couldn’t quite make the grade here. And for a game which such a promising premise as “run over zombies,” that’s kind of sad.

Blood Drive asks a number of scathing fictional combatants to complete in “cups,” races, and other events all revolving around mowing down ravenous flesh-eaters. These competitors range from the stereotypically abrasive Southern blonde to a goth behemoth, which each offering their own different rides and stabs at individual personalities. But, for the most part, these are only surface details as many of them offer little more than aesthetic changes and slight differences in speed and handling.

I’ll admit the first twenty minutes I spent exploring Blood Drive were pretty fun. The initial thrill of being able to smash through small groups of huddled zombies was alluring, and as the game feels extremely smooth and almost too responsive, I crashed headfirst into obstacles and towers, simply trying to nail any of the undead I possibly could. I threw caution to the wind and zoomed around the first random track I was assigned like a madwoman, and when I decided to actually start using weapons, my kill count skyrocketed.

It seemed like innocent, mindless fun, which can be a good thing. And then I realized there were entirely too few zombies shambling about to make the game much more than a glorified destruction derby. Save for my bloodthirsty opponents zipping around who seemed to handle their rides much better than myself (your car turns on a dime), the arena seemed curiously empty. And it would have made much more sense to see a horde more on the level of Dead Rising, wouldn’t it? But then I suppose this game couldn’t exactly be sold at what counts as a “budget” price.

But it’s not just the appalling lack of the decaying undead to splatter that was disappointing, as none of the available racing events were that different from one another. This made them feel more like hurried, tacked-on additions with simple “race” objectives thrown in to keep you a little more entertained when you finally figure out that the zombies seem to be little more than distractions and the game’s only real tangible gimmick.

Combine that with the fact that having any sort of real control over your vehicle is an absolute nightmare and you have a recipe for disaster even more so than the “Blood Drive” competition. For races whose objectives require you to come in first to advance, or arrive at destinations quicker than opponents, as you can imagine this is absolutely frustrating. My first checkpoint race had me a nervous wreck as I tried to work my way to each seemingly random glowing destination, spinning out at every turn and trying to figure out which would be the best path to take. It wasn’t pretty nor effective, and I realized then that this is possibly one of the worst driving experiences I’ve ever had in a video game; as smooth and as fast as it is, it just doesn’t work like it should.

For me, the game’s obvious multiplayer slant didn’t work either. There is no real “story” mode, as Blood Drive instead asks you to complete events, cups, tournaments, etc. It’s obvious the game would prefer you play this online and with friends, and that irks me. For starters, it had so much potential – at the very least, a campaign mode with each character would have been a draw for single-player havoc. Secondly, good luck trying to find a match online. I had two players join one match, and after trying repeatedly afterward, I gave up and played with the computer. But that’s the risk you take with games like these, as you’ll have to hope that people don’t pass in favor of better, more competent online experiences to spend their time with.

Blood Drive looks decent enough, I suppose. It’s your typical post-apocalyptic environments and has a goofy cartoony look to it, which offsets its rude and crass nature, riddled with some of the most obnoxious voice acting this side of Terrible Voice Acting 101. The constant cursing is a bit unnecessary as well, as I got the impression that this was going to be very goofy and light-hearted, and as such wouldn’t require F-bombs every few seconds. It makes for playing with others a little awkward if they aren’t into that sort of thing, and there’s really no call for it. Unless you’re the one that’s dropping them because you can’t get your car to drive in a straight line for very long. Then it’s probably acceptable.

I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to review Blood Drive. It had a reasonably interesting premise of combining the joys of splattering zombies with souped-up rides, and I’m never opposed to some good old-fashioned entertainment. Except that’s pretty much all this is: mindless. A few generic, humdrum cars, their grating drivers, and mediocre gameplay on a platform geared toward multiplayer that will hardly ever be played. Pass, even at its relatively low “budget” price.

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