In video games, depending on one central mechanic and only that mechanic can be troublesome. Nail it, and we are in a good space. Miss it and the entire games a goner.
Absolute Drift is based entirely around drifting. Drifting means everything to this game. Its name, its progression, its scoring are all driven by drifting. The longer a drift the higher the score multiplier goes. Crashing or not drifting resets the multiplier. There is nothing but drifting. There is nothing that resembles a story. Unless you want to run with your own story about a driver in a world gone mad that can only be saved by drifting. If the drifting mechanic fails, there will be trouble ahead. There is a really cool soundtrack though, and the graphics are nice, stylish. But neither of those can save a game if the game play isn’t there.
The game has a reward for completing a ten second drift. At first, that seems reasonable. I figured ten seconds isn’t that long. That’s an attainable goal.
My initial drifts lasted 1 – 2 seconds. They often ended up in a head long crash into a wall, or sideways crash into a wall. If not ending in a crash, I spun out. My car spinning in fruitless little circles, accruing only shame, not points. And some cases, drifts would even fail to start. They would just be a straight line with wobbles.
The game has an over world filled with little challenges. These allow for skills to be honed and foster a nice sense of accomplishment. Now my drifts were lasting for anywhere between 3 – 5 seconds. I still spun out. I still crashed, both head on and sideways. With the extra momentum crashes could now involve multiple walls. But I could maintain an arc. However small it was. It was a nice feeling. I even began to complete goals on actual courses.
The courses have time limits adding pressure to the achievements that the over world doesn’t have. All the scores go to a world leader board as well. However, that just makes the sense of accomplishment that much greater. Each course has 5 goals. The true joy comes from nailing 2, 3 of those at once. Getting all 5 is a source of much excitement.
6 – 8 second drifts became normal. The spin outs and crashes were much reduced (for me at least). Arcs just kept on going and going. I could hold on for longer, even keeping a single arc around multiple corners. It wouldn’t be long now.
More of the challenges were attained. The over world was finished. And then it happened. An opening arc held, and held sliding ever further out. I wasn’t even cognizant of the time; I was just enjoying the game. Then the trophy flashed up. 10 seconds. Even longer in fact. I held it as long as I could. And then I started a new drift.
Absolute Drifts drifting holds it together. In fact it manages more than that. It operates as every game mechanic should. It’s easy to understand but it’s difficult to master. The controls are easy to pick up, but combining them to allow high level techniques requires effort and practice. The process of mastering them is one of great satisfaction.