There are many top-down car games. Normally they are novelties like cart racing or they are a side element to the real game, like the original Grand Theft Auto games. Absolute Drift aims to add a new game into an often simple and under-represented genre. Does the game do enough to stand out or does it just fall to the wayside and drift away? Let’s see how good top down drifting actually is…
Absolute Drift has a fairly complete settings section. You can adjust game sounds and music on independent sliders. The graphics section, while simple, includes everything that is important, As it is only a simple looking game, this is appropriate. It is worthy of note that it does include a FOV slider (up to 80) to help with any potential motion sickness. There are also options for fullscreen or windowed mode. The game menu includes options such as manual or auto and driving assist.
However, one of the greatest weaknesses in this menu is its control scheme section. While it does show you the controls, it will only ever show you the controls for the default scheme (keyboard or gamepad). There is no way to change the controls from the menus. The instructions on how to change controls in the menu instruct the players to to check the steam community for ways to change them (hint: hold down CTRL as the game boots and it takes you into the engine options. You must do this each time you start the game.) This is not friendly design. I would encourage Funselektor Labs (the developers) to fix this huge oversight.
This game does not so much follow a story as if follows an unlock path. It encourages you to have a go at a couple of tutorials that explain and test a few different manoeuvres. The game advances by completing challenges on an expanding world map. Each world introduces new elements, it may be new ways to drive or it may be new types of roads. You are also introduced to new cars, each with their own slightly different ways of handling. Dispersed in the open world are racing and stunt maps. There is no requirement to complete any of these maps in order to progress. However they are ranked on global leader boards so it can be a good way to see just how much better everyone else is compared to you.
If you just play through until the end of the 5 worlds you will find that this will take under an hour. To get the best value for money you should aim to enjoy this game for the maps and the leader boards.
As you can expect, this game is all about driving a car with the wheels pointing in a different direction to that of its travel. At first you are asked to do a tutorial mission, this mission can be skipped like all the special maps, but after that you are thrown into an opening world. You must complete challenges that include elements such as collecting all the crosses, doing a doughnut around a certain location or drifting between two things.
As you progress through the game you unlock different cars which have different handling properties. I feel as though the first car is fantastic to get away from. It is much harder to control than most of the cars you later unlock.
One of the hardest things to get used to in this game is managing your speed. It is in stark contrast to a majority of games where more power is good. You will find yourself tapping the throttle rather than just laying down the power. If you do floor it you will find yourself in a wall faster than you would hope. Brakes don’t so much slow you down as they… well… don’t slow you down. This means that you need to have some element of foresight as it pays to plan the rout you want to take.
When you want to start racing or competing on the stunt tracks this foresight is much more valuable. Managing to chain your tricks and drifting manoeuvres together will earn you a multiplier which will give you points which will be used to rank you on a global leader board. This leader board is even so kind as to tell you how well you stand against the world. I must admit that one of my best scores had me placed in the lowest 15th percentile. I am not very good.
This has by no means dampered my enjoyment of the game.
Sound and Graphics
This game looks beautiful and sounds great. The music is ok, although I would suspect that your own choice of music would still fit better. The sound effects are simple and effective, this is appropriate.
The graphics are just fantastic though. They are so perfectly suited to the style of game that I am astounded that they have not been matched before. It is highly detailed on the higher settings and when performance is essential, the lower settings provide enough detail in the right places. Your poor reviewer, as he is currently operating on a non-gaming laptop, has been forced to experience these lower settings. I can comfortably say that this has in no way harmed my view of this game. It is still quite pretty, and it is still great fun to play.
The freedom to just drive around the world, or to do more serious maps gives this game a lot of appeal for those people who are more competitive and to those who just want to drift. The graphical style is very endearing and enhances the game to no end. There is plenty of game play but for some it may be better in short bursts rather than a more solid gaming session. I think that this is a very solid game for $5 to $10, I would not pay more than $10 though.