On a conceptual level, the spiritual blending of Twisted Metal and Dead Rising to create an undead concoction of car combat and horrific violence sounds like a surefire smash. How could it miss? Sadly, Blood Drive proves that killer concepts alone don't make for great gaming experiences, as the half-decent core gameplay is buried by endless performance issues, crummy controls, and a miserable tournament structure.
Blood Drive draws heavily from car combat standards, letting you pick one of eight weapon-loaded vehicles and run rampant through six arena-style stages set amidst a Las Vegas-style gambling town. Granted, these arenas are populated by thousands of the shambling undead, and some event types focus on their mass elimination, while others are focused more on wrecking your opponents' vehicles. You'll also find a King of the Skull game like Halo's Oddball mode, as well as race-like checkpoint events, which are immensely frustrating and an absolute low point of the experience.
Admittedly, the game has its brief moments – like in Dead Rising, there's a certain thrill to exterminating zombies en masse, especially in a comical manner. But Blood Drive suffers continuously from very obvious technical shortcomings, like a sluggish framerate that steadily cripples the action and car handling that feels like commanding a schooner through an ocean of bee's wax. We even noticed times where we'd make a quick turn and see a screen devoid of zombies for a few seconds, at which point they'd suddenly appear out of thin air.
Sidhe Interactive – best known for GripShift and last year's excellent Shatter – packed the game with a lot of personality (read: swear words), and the style certainly hints at grander ideals. But the rather slight amount of content is only compounded by a lazy single-player structure that packs its events into incredibly long tournaments that have to be toppled in one setting. Each of the last two 30-event tournaments takes about two hours to finish, and if you don't place first, you're starting over from scratch.
Even the multiplayer comes up short by supporting just four players, though we assume the game would likely collapse upon itself if tasked with anything more. It's a shame to see such a sloppy effort from a stellar independent studio, but more than that, it's baffling to see this kicked out the door by Activision just days before the release of the massive and expertly polished Call of Duty: Black Ops. We'd call this one a dud at half the price, but for $50, it's damn near an outrage.
Nov 18, 2010