Let us address the elephant in the room here straight off the bat – I have no idea how this game is pronounced.
Is it Drift CE, is it “driftce” or what? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it is very interesting, appealing as it does to my interest in the noble art of drifting, and my love of fiddling with cars.
DRIFTCE comes from the developers of ECC GAMES, published by 505 Games. But can the actual gameplay live up to the promise, or does it spin out on the first bend? Let’s get sideways!
First thing to mention is the story found in DRIFTCE, and oddly, given that this is a racing game, it is entirely absent. We are given the keys to a garage, a car, and access to lots of bits and pieces to nail to said vehicles. From there we are unleashed onto a track to see if we can go sideways. With no time wasted on the narrative, we can spend more time tinkering and sliding. Win win, right?
The graphics and general presentation are generally pretty good. I do have one niggle, in that my favourite camera angle, that of being nailed to the front bumper, is not available, and instead it is either the standard “above and behind” viewpoint, or a couple of inside views. Perhaps that is more of a personal thing, but this is soon overcome.
The models of the cars and the tracks themselves are nicely detailed, and the smoke from the tyres, once you actually manage to get a slide going, is quite good as well. Obviously, this isn’t Forza Horizon 5, but the graphics are pretty nice anyway. The sound of the engines is also good, with the different engine types all having a nicely different note, from the rumbly V8 to the high pitched buzz of the rotary engines. All in all, the presentation has a tick next to it.
A special mention has to go to the way that the car that you create, from outlandish paint schemes through to truly awful bodykits, are all faithfully replicated in game. No matter how hideous your creation, you and others can “enjoy” looking at it in action.
Now, the gameplay. This is the proverbial story of two halves, with the time in DRIFTCE spent split pretty evenly between the garage, where you fettle the cars that you have bought, and the track, where you see if the improvements you have made are working. Oh, and you can also fulfil missions to earn cash to plough back into your steed.
Taking a look at the garage side of things first and when you buy a car it does seem to come with a few things missing; omissions that would have you on the phone to Watchdog in a heartbeat. An engine? A gearbox? Optional extras innit bruv. Or so it appears!
What this does mean is that you can pretty much shoehorn any engine into any car, as my Mazda MX-5 running a quad rotor rotary engine would attest to. The process for doing this is by turns both fascinating and frustrating, as you need to first of all build the engine on an engine stand, before sticking it under the bonnet of your car. Once it is in place you then need to buy and fit the various hoses and exhaust parts in order to make the engine run, and luckily, with a single press of a button, you can have the missing parts highlighted in green, making it much easier to see where you need to put stuff.
Sticking the car on the ramp allows the chance to raise and lower it to your heart’s content. Getting under the car lets you see where the exhaust has to go, and once all the main bits are plumbed in, you then need to choose and fit seats, a steering wheel and a gear knob – even a handbrake lever can be adjusted to your design. And this is before you start replacing wings and bonnets and fitting spoilers!
With the wide range of fully licensed cars (an addition I was happy to see, I love to have my AE86 called an AE86) there is almost no end to what you can make. AE86 with a V8? Mustang with a four pot engine? Yep, all doable. The only difficulty I have had is in fitting tyres to my car, as for the life of me I cannot figure out how to get them nailed to the rims. Other than that, DRIFTCE is all lots of fun
Getting out on the track, either in single player or multiplayer, see the pain and pleasure principle continuing. You see, before I played DRIFTCE, I thought I was a pretty good drifter. Forza, CarX Drift Racing Online; I can drift in them all, but this game is brutally hard. The slightest bit too much power, or the slightest fraction of a degree of steering input out, either sees you spin or understeer into a wall. Honestly, DRIFTCE takes no prisoners, and while I feel playing with a wheel would make things easier, on a controller it is almost too hard.
I say almost, as when you finally do manage to nail that drift run, hitting the clipping points just so and keeping the car sliding to the finish line, it makes every spin and bad word disappear in a rush of endorphins. Never have I had to work so hard in a racing game before, and this is what sets DRIFTCE apart from the other titles I mentioned. This is no arcade experience, it is a real simulator and you need to work to make it.
Each track in the career mode has challenges tied to it, from scoring a certain amount of points, through to hitting every clipping point on a track; all on a strict time limit. Each mission has three cups to win, in the traditional Gold, Silver and Bronze, and as the missions carry on, even getting a Bronze takes some serious skill.
The online world is pretty well populated, and in a nice touch, in order to be competitive online, there is a sandbox mode that basically lets you build the car you want to build without worrying about cost. You can’t use the cars you build in the career mode, but in online, it does allow you to get a leg up. There are a lot of good drivers online, however, so I would do your practice offline to make sure you have an idea of what you need to do.
All in all, DRIFTCE is without doubt the most accurate drifting simulator I have played on the Xbox. The building of the car can be enjoyable, whilst the actual driving is so hard that even getting any form of drift under your belt feels like a win. Of course, if you put in the time, both in driving and in the tuning side, the results will come.
DRIFTCE may be too demanding for some, but for others, the sheer challenge will spur them on. If you fancy yourself as a Touge master, you need to play DRIFTCE.