Game Reviews

Drift City Mobile - Ploughs into the barriers at high speed

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Drift City Mobile - Ploughs into the barriers at high speed

From the name alone, I think I would like to drive in a place called Drift City.

I imagine a metropolis, filled with huge stretches of road, long arcing corners, and huge skyscrapers rushing past as I kick my tricked out sports car into a graceful sideways drift.

I'll find out if it is indeed the case that driving in Drift City is fun as I play Drift City Mobile over the course of a week, and report back my findings every few days.

First impressions

Drift City Mobile starts slow. Before you even get to the gameplay, it asks you to create a U Cube account, give them your email, bombards you with a load of notifications about events in the game, and chucks a meaningless login bonus your way. When you're down with this dazzling display of F2P-instigated nonsense, it's onto the tutorial.

A man named Duffy begins explaining to you, in broken and badly spelled English, that you've been made an OMD (what's this?) and the government (which one?) has given you money to buy a car (why's that?).

So you toddle on over to the Shop where you can purchase one of a handful of vehicles, using government money. I bought a Compact, because it looked like a lunchbox on wheels, and that pleased me.

Then you're shown how to begin the game's Story Mode, highlighting that there are objectives that must be accomplished, and that certain items are acquirable in certain missions, and that you can purchase boost items to make your life easier, and that you can choose to bring in a friend to help you, and oh my word so much information so quickly.

But you can ignore all that, because as soon as you "press the paly button" (sic), the game plonks you in a car you didn't choose, assigns a friend and boost for you, and starts you chasing after criminals. At least it does after another slow set of text scrolls, explaining a paper thin plot element to you that you'll immediately forget.

I feel drained already, so let's talk about how the game actually plays in a couple of days, shall we?

Day 3: Detour

The last few days with Drift City Mobile have not been good, and that's because the core game of Drift City Mobile is also not good. In fact, it's poorly constructed and totally unbalanced.

The gameplay isn't so much a driving game as much as it is an autorunner in a car, but that's okay with me as that's essentially what the fantastic Rush Horizon is. You automatically accelerate and you tap on either side of the screen when you want to turn left or right. You have to avoid traffic, and ram into HUVs to arrest them.

I still haven't been told what an HUV is, so I looked it up on Urban Dictionary, and apparently it stands for Homeless Utility Vehicle, so I guess the authorities I'm aiding want me to rid the streets of the destitute and forgotten?

Seems a bit harsh.

Anyway there's a drifting mechanic in here too, but, just like the story, it's so poorly explained that you won't understand how it works.

I spent ages trying to figure it out, and eventually realised that instead of swiping anywhere across the screen in the direction you want to drift - as the tutorial indicates - you instead have to swipe in the area where you're tapping the virtual buttons to turn.

Though the time frame within which to activate a perfect drift is generous, the process of doing so is fiddly, and the command is often confused by the game's engine so that a tap to turn - to better align your vehicle, say - is interpreted as a desire to swing the back end out.

Here's what it looks like when you drift.

You may have noticed that I'm driving a World War 2 military vehicle.

This is because it's faster and stronger than the actual sports car I have, for some reason, and if you have a better vehicle in Drift City Mobile, you're far more likely to be victorious, as you might expect.

You may also have noticed that I'm driving on the grass.

This is because the game has somehow placed me outside its world, due to a bug. Errors like this are commonplace and come in many forms, so even if you look past the terrible translation, the "best car wins" approach to competition, and bewildering controls, when you're playing PvP and Drift City Mobile believes you're in first and last place at the same time, you'll quickly reach for the Home Screen button.

But I'm not personally allowed to do that. I have to keep playing for a few more days. Here's hoping it gets better...

Day 7: "Actual gaming skill is marginalised" is a terrible thing to have to write

Unsurprisingly Drift City Mobile didn't improve over the last few days, but my dislike of it did intensify.

For a game so broken and boring, it's almost arrogant in the way it approaches monetisation. Check the "IAPs explained" box out I've written for the eye-watering details.

As I've been upgrading my vehicles I've found that I have to include either incredibly rare parts to see any noticeable increase to performance, or purchase / win a new vehicle at a much higher level to cream the opposition.

Reward for actual gaming skill is marginalised, but there are some things you can do to increase your chances of not losing.

Driving toward oncoming traffic slowly increases a nitrous boost so that you can get to the next fuel-replenishing checkpoint faster, as does narrowly missing vehicles as you pass them.

But by and large what you do in the game is an effort in mitigating the risk of losing, rather than upping your chances of winning, so it's not the fantasy-fulfilment exercise racing fans are often looking for.

The in-game visuals are solid, sporting a cel-shaded look that pops off the screen, and the tone has a bit of that chaotic naughtiness of Jet Set Radio too, though it never delivers on this potential.

The menu screens might look cluttered and confusing, but at least there's a cheery pop song accompanying them.

You get the feeling that, if Drift City Mobile were a better game, you could get a lot of enjoyment from seeing everything it has to offer.

There are plenty of stages, different times of day, weather effects, a PvP mode, tons of cars, and loads of upgrades here..

But having loads of a bad game doesn't make the bad game any better, it just means there's a lot more you won't bother seeing in that bad game. Drift City Mobile is a complete waste of time, and one that's best left avoided.

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Drift City Mobile - Ploughs into the barriers at high speed

There's just so much wrong with Drift City Mobile that it's difficult to know how to write a pithy summation of its faults. Essentially you should (and will) quickly forget that this auto-racer ever existed