Many racing games have featured drifting. From arcade classics such as Ridge Racer and Burnout, all the way to more realistic takes on the sport in Forza Motorsport and the Grid series. The results vary wildly, but the majority have proved to be fun at the very least. This is where Absolute Drift comes in, black tyre marks in its wake as it attempts to prove it’s as fun as those mentioned above.
And, for the most part, it succeeds.
At the very start of Free Roam mode, which is basically the game’s main mode, you are tasked with becoming a drifting master, then you’re just left to it. The first thing you’ll notice is the Mirror’s Edge art style, all clean white surfaces with stark red that denotes mission-specific areas. With its top down view, it looks very striking but the almost infinite trailing tyre lines try their best to ruin the aesthetic. They are most likely there to help you remember where you’ve been in the open areas, but they usually just get in the way.
The top down viewpoint will throw off new players, as you’ll probably be expecting something arcadey and simple, but you’d be very wrong. The handling is almost simulation, which makes the game near impossible to play using a keyboard, so make sure you’ve got a controller for this one – preferably one with analogue triggers. You’ll need to be delicate with the throttle as you attempt to keep a drift going, otherwise you’ll find yourself facing the wrong way during most of your time with Absolute Drift.
The handling isn’t the only realistic thing in the game, either. The vehicles all handle similarly to their real-life counterparts (there are no licensed vehicles in Absolute Drift), and they sound like them too. The Super (Toyota Supra) whines, its gearbox hissing as you shift (manually too, if that’s your thing), and every other car from The Original (a Toyota AE86, for the drifting fans) to the Hoonivan (you’ll know it when you see it, though believing it may take more work) sound exactly how they should. Crashing produces meaty crunches and the sounds of breaking glass, and you’ll get very used to those in your early hours with Absolute Drift. The screeching of metal on concrete will also become familiar as you connect with walls and scrape around corners, after inevitably losing control of the sideways action.
The physics aren’t always realistic though, as sometimes your car will seem to lose all control by itself, sliding into a wall and breaking your combo chain when it should have easily slipped around the corner. Grip is definitely a problem in this game, which makes sense to a point but tends to be more lacking than it should be, this causes much frustration when you’re on the final lap of a drifting run. Switching on the steering assist is a must for new players, resulting in a more fun experience – even veteran racing gamers like myself will struggle without that assist on, quite frankly.
The lack of a meaningful tutorial doesn’t help, either. You get basic text explaining what buttons to press, but no more. The free roaming nature of the game does help with this, as you can practice to your heart’s content without fear of running out of time or laps. Honestly, this is where Absolute Drift excels. Instead of being forced to race or compete in challenges, you can drift around the different worlds and learn the basics through trial and error. There are five worlds in total, each with an increased number of challenges dotted throughout.
Challenges range from doing donuts around objects and drifting under things, all the way to jumping gaps or on to rooftops. They do get repetitive, but you’ll still find yourself hunting them relentlessly during your time in each world. Completing all the challenges within each world will unlock the next, but you will find that those challenges dry up fast – you can breeze through all five worlds in less than two hours, if you ignore the competitions available. The challenges don’t reopen either, so once you’ve finished the worlds available, the only option left is the competitions.
Competitions are available from the main menu too, meaning you can just jump straight into them if you’re a returning player, or just fancy setting scores in the online leaderboards. Most normal players however, will be happy with scores in the hundreds of thousands, but a quick look at the top of the leaderboards will reveal just how far you are from the best players’ scores. Free roam will certainly help you develop your skills, but repetition in the competition tracks is the best solution to finding the best path and producing the highest scores. It’s a great ‘hi-score’ game in that respect, which will keep players going for weeks or even months.
For everyone else, you’ll probably get a few hours’ worth of fun before drift fatigue sets in. There’s still enough content for your £8.99, but more so if you’re willing to put in the time to increase your skill and find that elusive best line through each track and possibly get a top 10% score on the leaderboard. Leaderboards are the only form of multiplayer in the game, disappointingly. You can still pass the pad with friends, but real multiplayer is a glaring omission in a game like this.
Absolute Drift is a fun game, regardless of some of its physics issues and repetitive challenges. The Steam achievements provide some extra entertainment, but not enough to prolong the game time for regular players. If you enjoy the feeling of getting a high score after spending hours getting it just so, then there is more than enough game for your money.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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