At the first signs of the zombie apocalypse, I’m heading straight to Las Vegas. After all, if the recent rash of Vegas-themed titles is to be believed, Vegas will have several towns spring up around it, all with healthy zombie entertainment-based economies. It may be the apocalypse, but I’ll still need work, and there will be plenty of opportunities in towns like Dead Rising 2’s Fortune City and Blood Drive’s Las Ruletas. After all, bloggers will probably be the first to fall to the undead menace, so I may as well switch professions while I’ve got the chance, and the idea of taking part in Blood Drive seems as good of a job as any.
Participating in the Blood Drive is a straightforward affair. You and several other contestants, all in your own wacky, Twisted Metal style vehicles, engage in a series of tournament challenges ranging from a demolition derby to seeing who can (re)kill the most zombies. The game is given a over the top pay-per-view event flavored vibe, from the archetypal driver characters to the gloriously ridiculous color commentary by veteran voice actor Michael McConnohie, who many gamers will recognize as the head of The Agency from Crackdown.
Crusty old gamers like me will almost certainly recognize the influence behind Blood Drive: a mid-Nineties Interplay franchise called Carmageddon, which put players in virtually the same scenarios as Blood Drive, although with living pedestrians in lieu of zombies. However, I would hope that almost 15 years after Carmageddon bloodied up the scene, a developer would improve on the floppy physics. No matter which vehicle you choose, whether it’s a modded ambulance or a devastating big rig, you’ll have to wrestle with weight and movement that never really feels right, which translates to difficulty in controlling your car. Even mowing down zombies, which should be the most satisfying part of the game, looks unpolished and dated, with the dismembered dead flying apart into their component pieces in a fashion that looks like an animation torn straight from 1997.
Worst of all, this game is painfully difficult. Events are grouped into “cups” of varying lengths, and no matter how good you do in one challenge, you have to do good in all of them to move on. If you slip up, even in one race, you’ll lose points and be forced to redo the entire cup. This mechanic is obnoxious in the earlier, 3-events cups, but in the later cups which are comprised of a dozen or so races, it becomes maddening.
Many of these flaws can be brushed off with the comment that Blood Drive is a “budget title,” and while this may be true, the game still costs fifty goddamn dollars. A ten dollar discount does not entitle developers to release unpolished, unbalanced games. No matter how fun the vibe of the game may be, it’s just not much fun to play. If Blood Drive is truly representative of what survivors will have to go through after the zombie apocalypse, then I welcome the undead hordes with open arms and a sign around my neck that says “All You Can Eat Buffet.”