Anyone over a certain age will have the strains of MC Hammer’s masterpiece playing in their head with Can’t Drive This from Pixel Maniacs. The basis of the game is pretty simple: you have to build a road, and then drive on that road. But, as you’d expect, there is a twist; if you drive too slowly, you explode, much like in Speed with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Okay, so they didn’t explode (spoiler alert if you’ve not seen it), but in Can’t Drive This exploding is a real danger.
So, come with me to a world of high speed roadworks and exploding monster trucks to see how the madness unfolds…
Now, as you’d expect from a game in the party/cooperative genre, the story is nonexistent, so much so that it’s best we just gloss over that aspect of the game. There are however a variety of play modes, ranging from single player options in which you are in charge of building the road and driving, to multiplayer madness where one person is building while the other drives. As you will no doubt be expecting me to say, the difference between single player and multiplayer is like night and day, and the amount of fun found in Can’t Drive This when playing with another goes through the roof. Luckily, in these restricted times where gathering together is frowned upon, it is possible to play online with either friends or random strangers. But you’ll want friends as it’s a bit of a wasteland online.
So, single player then, and this is the most limited of the modes present. Basically, playing alone, you are tasked with not only building the road, but also, with a swift stab of the Y button, driving it as well. Now, in the single player arena, there are wooden platforms that have squares on them dotted about. These are “holos” and will give you extra time when you pick them up. Oh yes, did I mention this mode is timed, and that the timer keeps running down no matter what you are doing? So, at its core, Can’t Drive This revolves around building a road to a holo, grabbing it, building another road to the next holo and rinsing and repeating – either until you run out of time or drive too slowly and blow up. It is pretty much the same game every time though and although the platform locations do change, to be honest you’re not seeing Can’t Drive This at its best here.
Multiplayer is an entirely different kettle of fish, and is a lot more fun when you can laugh at your friends’ (or childrens’) misfortunes as you fail to place a block in time and they plummet to a fiery doom. There are a couple of modes available in the jolly cooperative mode, and they are both slightly different. The first is basically a rehash of the single player mode, where the objective is to “Go Far, Go Fast”, basically requiring one person to build the road, as quickly as possible, as the other drives. Now, it’s not quite that simple, as the person building the road only has screen updates when the person driving makes progress. So if you are building in a straight line (chance would be a fine thing), you’ll reach the edge of the build screen before the person driving has moved, and once they move, your screen shifts to enable you to build more road. Of course, not all the tiles you can place are straight, featuring turns, jumps, boost pads, flaming hoops, junctions and many, many more. It’s a real challenge to build fast enough.
The other co-op mode is called A Game of Drones, and sees you tasked with picking up all the holos in a level. It starts off easy, with two on Level 1, 3 on Level 2 and so on, and if it was just a case of building a road, it would be pretty straightforward. But there is a twist in the shape of the drones from the title. These guys fly about dropping objects onto the track; if you drive into them they might make you slow right down and endanger the monster truck. It soon gets much more challenging, with the driver being required to double back and take different routes to hit all the holos. This is the mode that is the most fun – in fact, it can be hilarious. There is a head to head option too but you’ll need to get four people together around a console – something which is a little tricky in these times.
Can’t Drive This looks pretty nice visually, with a lot of customisation options to unlock and apply, both to the truck and to the road tiles you can lay down. After all, if you can’t express your personality by giving your truck a bow tie, a clown hat and a serious looking racing spoiler, what even is the point, eh? The graphics are perfectly serviceable on the driving side of things, with a simple behind the car point of view allowing you to see the action. The track laying is also pretty good looking too, with one slight caveat – it’s easy to see when the next piece you have to lay is a corner, or a junction and so on, but when it is a water splash, jump, or otherwise a straight piece, it’s much harder to see what you are putting down. The difference between a concave mud pit-looking square and a convex yellow lump is hard to make out, and when you are trying to build fast, it’s even harder.
Other than that, Can’t Drive This looks pretty good all round, and even in splitscreen multiplayer everything moves at a fair old lick, with no slowdown.The only other complaint I have is that the monster truck does seem to get itself beached very easily, leading to some cheap-feeling explosions and early baths for the driver. Hitting a barrier seems to be the most common cause, with the truck just hanging there and refusing to move, despite the best efforts of the driver: you can’t go forwards, reverse goes nowhere, and an explosion is the only way out.
All in all, if you have a group of friends to play with, Can’t Drive This on Xbox is worth a shot. It’s a giggle for sure, and deliberately driving your partner round the bend (literally!) is as fun as it gets, especially as you get further, the pace increases and things get pretty tense. But if you’re a solo player, this hits party games’ cliche number 1: it’s just not as much fun on your own.