Bad and mediocre video games come in a lot of shapes and sizes. Some clip along at a decent pace, only for you to eventually realize that you’re just playing a repetitive game without much real value. Some start off filled with potential, only to be crippled by a series of game breaking flaws which prohibit any fun being had past a certain point. Then there are games like Activision’s Blood Drive, which immediately are just plain boring and uninspired from start to finish, continually barraging you with ugly graphics, repetitive gameplay modes, and a lack of any real replay value.
Blood Drive puts you into the type of post zombie apocalypse world that many gamers have become used to. Unsurprisingly, most of the people in this fictional reality have been thrown into disarray. However, the residents of Las Ruletas, a Vegas-esque city, are an exception; the enterprising members of this society have created a unique zombie tourism industry. Adding to this industry is the Blood Drive championship, a sport in which drivers compete for fame and fortune via mowing down zombies, and each other for the enjoyment of fans. You, step into the role of one of these drivers and attempt to entertain the masses with your zombie/car destruction. On the surface the premise sounds good, you’ve got zombies, which are awesome, and blowing up cars, which is equally awesome. Unfortunately, any potential the game had quickly evaporates from the first event.
The biggest problem with Blood drive is that it is incredibly repetitive. There are 7 mini-games which the game offers you, but this number is realistically closer to about 4 or 5 as a couple of the competitions feature the exact same gameplay mechanics, just in an eliminator format rather than one in which everyone competes for the full time. Even though there 5 different game modes with different objectives, the way you play in each one doesn’t really change all that much. No matter whether you are speeding through gates or trying to rack up the most zombie kills, you’ll almost always be holding down the right trigger to go and pressing the a button to clear a path through the walking dead. To say this becomes mundane would be one of the biggest understatements of the year.
Compounding this problem is that the main “campaign” just consists of continually playing these mini games over and over on the same 6 tracks. The game is arranged into “cups” for you to compete in. These cups start at just three events spread over one zone (track) and end up reaching as high as 30 events spread over six zones. Each event is scored according to how well you place, and winning the cup will allow you to access the next one, where you’ll compete in the same set of mini games over similar arenas. The lack of any shreds of variety only focuses the boredom created by the cookie cutter game modes.
Once you get over the structure of the game and onto the track, the problems only mount for Blood Drive. The vehicles feel like they are driven by drunk drivers, which is to say that it is nigh impossible to get them to do exactly what you want them to. Now, this isn’t such of a big deal when all you have to do is drive towards a herd of zombies and wail away on the A button with reckless abandon. However, when you need to drive through the streets of a poorly rendered level in your equally poorly rendered car and hit checkpoint gates along the way, the inability to control your weapon of death precisely, especially at high speeds, becomes a real source of frustration.
Should you get bored of the campaign, which you inevitably will, Activision has also included a couple of other ways to play in the form of challenges, single event, and online play. Unfortunately, all of these pretty much fall flat on their face essentially because they are just more of the same from the already boring campaign mode. Add that to the fact that pretty much no one is online to play with, and you’ve got a title pretty devoid of replay value unless you feel like unlocking all of the character victory movies, a task completed by winning one of the later cups with each driver. Given the boring nature of the cups though, I doubt that you'll bother doing this.
If there’s one thing that Blood Drive does right, it is convey a sense of atmosphere and a touch of humor. Each minigame has an uber masculine announcer who will randomly yell out phrases to encourage you and comment on your performance at the end of each round. He does become a touch irritating when the game isn’t working for you, but it does set the mood quite well. Additionally, the testosterone fueled nature of the game is spelled when you enter the menu, where you are treated to soft elevator music. It’s a small bright spot, but it should force you to crack a smile the first time you take a break from the hard-rock-zombie-killer-mayhem to run and get a drink. The game also tries to add some more chuckle worthy moments by dressing the zombies up as a variety of stereotypes such as frat boys or strippers, but there are simply too many zombies for their outfits to make much of an impression on the user.
I wish I could say that the inability to really enjoy certain moments of Blood Drive is the crux of the problem with the game. However, the fact is, it simply feels like a game which was half-baked; it took some cool ideas and then simply didn’t capitalize on them. Maybe if the cars controlled better and there was more variety in the game modes it would be worth investing your money into this game. Given that this simply isn’t the case, it is probably best for gamers of all types to just avoid Blood Drive and get their vehicular destruction somewhere else.
[Blood Drive]-$47.99(PS3 and Xbox 360)