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’2K Drive’ for iOS game review

You may know 2K Games from excellent desktop and console series such as Bioshock, Borderlands and Mafia. Their sports division, 2K Sports, has now released a new title for iOS, called 2K Drive.

2K Drive is a racing game but not quite in the same league as your Asphalt or Need for Speed. It’s more along the lines of Real Racing, wherein it is a simulation racing game that tries to be more realistic with believable physics and other characteristics. We took it for a spin to see how it performs.

Title
2K DRIVE
Developer
2K Sports
Platform
iOS
Release Date
September 5, 2013
Content Reating
4+
Size
565MB
Price
$6.99

Gameplay

As mentioned before, 2K Drive is a simulation racing game that features licensed vehicles and real locations around the world. The campaign mode has you driving several types of races, from simple circuit races to drag races across salt pans, fastest lap time events, drift events, and a few off road events.

As you play and win events, you get stars and coins, the former you use for repairing your vehicle and the latter to purchase new ones and to upgrade them. 2K Drive has a damage model for all vehicles, and as you drive around (or rather crash around) you see the vehicle appearance deteriorating although there is not much difference in performance. Before each race you are given the option to repair your vehicle and if the damage is extensive it is compulsory before you can drive that vehicle again.

The game has a showroom where you can purchase additional vehicles. You can also purchase upgrades to any vehicles you have previously purchased. You can use the IAP option to unlock several cars if you don’t want to go through the trouble of actually playing the game and earning money to unlock them.

2K Drive has a multiplayer mode where you can race against people on Game Center. One interesting feature is where you take a picture from the front camera or from your image gallery and upload it and then that image is used on your car’s driver so it seems as if you are driving the car. Sounds silly but if the photo and setup is done properly it actually looks pretty cool.

As for the gameplay, I was hugely disappointed with 2K Drive. I’m a fan of racing games but 2K Drive is thoroughly boring to play. First of all, simulation racing is not intended to be played on a mobile. It needs a proper setup such as a wheel and pedals to enjoy properly. Playing simulation racing on a mobile device is like eating noodles with a spoon; it just doesn’t feel right.

2K Drive makes it worse by making the cars annoyingly difficult to drive. First of all, the accelerometer sensitivity is set too high and even a small twitch of the device will send your car fishtailing into the nearest sidewalk. Turning it down makes the cars feel like you’re steering a ship through sludge.

The initial cars are also spectacularly bad. They take all the fun out of playing the game and makes it feel like a chore. The cars are slow and an absolute handful. You feel less like driving them and more like fighting them to stay on course. And then there are other annoyances, such as the lack of a track overview to see the nature of the upcoming corner and a rear view mirror to see what’s going on behind you. And no restart option within a race so you can’t quickly restart a race if something goes wrong so you either have to sit through the race or end it.

Then there are the plethora of bugs the game ships with. These range from the game inexplicably crashing while playing for no reason, to crashing immediately at launch, repeatedly, to getting stuck on the initial loading screen, to losing connection to the game servers even though other apps can connect to the internet just fine. The last one is particularly annoying as it keeps popping up errors on the screen and for whatever reason prevents you from purchasing cars in the game.

There is also a feature where the game shows you news from the automotive world, from sources such as Autoblog, Electric Car Report. carsxhype.com, etc. It was more interesting than the actual game.

Graphics and Sound

The visuals are one of the few decent things about 2K Drive. Even on the iPad mini the game looks quite decent and runs at a respectable framerate. The damage model is also done well and you can see things like the wing mirrors pop off when the car hits the side, along with scratch marks, dents and bumpers popping off. Strangely though, hitting into the car ahead of you causes no damage to your opponent, even though your own vehicle is damaged.

The 3D models of the cars look good but they take ages to load in the showroom. This makes the process of purchasing cars terribly slow. The game menus are also a bit sluggish and at times don’t react to your taps at all. Also there are some embarrassing typos in the description text scattered in the game.

The sound features some licensed tracks, none of which I had heard before but sound pretty good. What doesn’t sound good, however, are the cars, which have an electronic tone to the exhaust note that screams fake. The Fiat 500 you start off with sounds like someone is playing the sound on an electronic keyboard when you rev the engine. You’d expect a racing game that emphasizes realism to get the engine note right but the developers of 2K Drive have messed up that as well.

Verdict

2K Drive seemed quite promising on paper but I’ve never been disappointed so much. In the few hours I spent playing it there was little enjoyment to be had and it was mostly boredom or frustration that had me wishing for my money back. And at $6.99, that is quite a lot of money. To think you’re expected to pay that much money for a game that is not just boring but broken as well is expecting too much.

Rating: 4/10
Pros: Decent visuals and range of licensed vehicles
Cons: About as enjoyable as watching paint dry, has more bugs than an ant colony, expects you to pay $6.99 for it

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