Games launched as an online service have a high failure rate and I feel like part of that is down to the intrinsic design of a game that is built on as it is played. Drive Buy, smashes together a cartoon Twisted Metal gameplay with Rocket League customisation and that sounds like it should be a dream. Maybe it would be if there was a varied amount of content for you to get stuck into…
Drive Buy can be played with up to 4 players locally or online with bots filling up the other spaces but frustratingly you must be always online to play regardless. Before you even get going you have to sign up via email and click on links in your inbox. After the clunky entrance process, you are greeted with a loud and fun graphical style that reminds me of a modern-day Crazy Taxi. One thing that Drive Buy absolutely nails is its arcade energy visually and audibly. It looks the part with a bright sheen of polish everywhere, chunky graphics and ACME effects for your weapons. The soundtrack is good fun too.
Pick your car or van (they all handle the same so its visual changes only) and you dive into a lobby for one of three game modes across three areas. It is here where the rot starts to set in. The best mode by far is Piggy Bank. Here, you chase around the car holding the piggy bank raking up points. You can smash into them to steal the piggy and try to escape. You can do this by spamming the boost button every five seconds as it recharges so quickly, or by grabbing a weapon. Weapons spawn at various points on the maps and are randomly allocated. They all have the same icon though so you have to take what you are given rather than find what works best. With Piggy Bank, first to 1000 points wins.
Delivery mode sees a pile of boxes dropped in the middle of the map and you have to drop them off at various NPCs around the map in a speed run for 4 minutes. This is fun for a while but as the maps are small and everyone has randomised NPC routes, the rounds are very inconsistent. Sometimes I didn’t see another player for the whole 4 minutes and so it felt like a strange time trial mode and yet other times we were driving into each other, launching missiles and causing problems for one another. Sadly, it was more the former than the latter. The third mode is a deathmatch/coin collection mode but it is also the least satisfying. The problem here is that some weapons do kill opponents, others just seem to stun them and coins don’t seem to drop properly if you ever do kill opponents. It just felt like 5 minutes of driving around hoping for something to happen. Every time.
The map situation doesn’t help. The three maps are nearly identical in style, size, scope and layout. One has two narrow bridges in the middle and one has a warehouse shortcut, not on the map layout. You discover the hiding place in the first 20 seconds of the level as the maps are small and so it is not really a surprise anymore. Do the maps look good? Yes. Do they offer any gameplay variances from one another? Absolutely not.
Instead, more effort has been put into the customisation of your vehicle. During season 1 you can unlock new colour schemes, decal layouts, boost streams and some new characters. Remember that all vehicles handle the same and so it’s just visual style – and even then there’s only one van and two cars. There is also a shop where you can spend in-game currency to buy daily deals etc. Thankfully, it isn’t pushing buying currency as you unlock the in game money by playing the game. Season 1 has 60 levels and I was bored of everything except Piggy Bank by the time I hit level 5. At least Drive Buy has decent servers as I haven’t experienced a single issue in connecting to a match so far. The flip side is that I don’t think I’ve actually played in a full 4 player lobby yet either, which implies player numbers are low. The AI is not optimised and so largely do silly things and are easy to beat.
Drive Buy needs more. It needs more everything. More modes that matter. More maps with variety. More interaction with players online. More content for your £18.99 price tag. The framework for a Crazy Taxi x Twisted Metal mash-up is all here but it’s an empty shell at present. I cannot recommend it in its current form and it shouldn’t be worthy of your time until there is something worth coming back to over and over again. Especially as you are forced online to a service to play it.
Review code provided by publisher.
There is a good look and feel in place but absolutely no content or strategy here to get stuck into. A risky 'service' game that feels like it is released before it is ready.
Looks and sounds like a great synthwave Twisted Metal.
Lots of customisation if you want to grind for it.
Only Piggy Bank is fun to play.
All the maps look and play the exact same way.
Always online means this will likely not be available for you for local multiplayer fun in a few years time.
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