There’s an ever changing field racing for first place in the App Store among racing games. The latest entrant is 2K Drive, which offers a realistic racing simulation that includes licensed cars and authentic driving environments. The main highlight of 2K Drive is the sheer amount of content with an expansive championship racing series, online multiplayer races, and numerous daily challenges. There’s also a great variety in the events with options to race, overtake opponents, knock down boxes, go off road, perform drag races, go head to head, test time trials, and more. There’s a lot to play, but the question is if you’ll want to keep playing through all of the included content.
There are two main types of racing games with realistic simulations and arcade racing, with the former focusing on digital driving skills like in Real Racing 3, and the latter revolving around pedal to the metal action as in Asphalt 8 and Need for Speed Most Wanted. 2K Drive falls into the latter category, so that means you need to constantly balance speed, brakes, and force when taking every course on the track, just like driving a real car. That also means there are chances to spin out, lose a lot of speed, and get caught up in balancing the force of your car, rather than racing your opponents. Real Racing 3 is the most noteworthy alternative, and 2K Drive is surprisingly similar, which isn’t the best thing. The main drawback of the gameplay of 2K Drive is that your race performance is extremely dependent upon your car, and many races lead to just going through the motions. This was a problem in Real Racing 3 as well, and it’s always apparent when you get to a certain position in the first two curves of the race, and then can never switch positions the rest of the race. For example, you get up to fifth, and are stuck there for three laps with only the potential to fall back, and the only way to do better is to get a new car.
There are various types of challenges in 2K Drive, and the other modes keep the variability up, though they do suffer some of the problems of the main race mode. The main drawback is that there just isn’t randomness or unpredictability, and that’s what makes arcade racing games so intriguing as you can drop from first to last with one mistake, but then jump up from last to first with a well timed boost. Whether it’s the racing, drag events, or head to head challenges the event will play out depending upon the types of cars used, and if your driving ability is excessively poor. There’s a lot of content to play, but there just isn’t much incentive to keep going through the game as it’s a relatively dry experience, which you wouldn’t expect from a racing game. Racing should offer intense challenges, but 2K Drive is more like a leisurely Sunday drive that could put you to sleep.
Another drawback of 2K Drive is that the graphics are claimed to be “console quality”, but unless the developers are referring to consoles from 2000, that’s not an apt description. The 3D car modeling is advanced with some high quality lighting and shadow effects, but the backgrounds are subpar at best. The graphical fidelity of Asphalt 8, Real Racing 3, and Need for Speed Most Wanted blow away 2K Drive. The graphics aren’t a major sticking point, but the payment structure is, as the developers flipped flopped between the idea of freemium and premium pricing. 2K Drive ended up as a $6.99 game, but still has numerous freemium mechanics, again similar to Real Racing 3. Even though you spend $7, the game invites you to spend $10 more on a starter pack as soon you launch it. There are also two forms of in-game currency with premium coins required for new cars and car upgrades. Your car also needs repairs which require timers or stars. There are just a lot of annoying little additions that don’t necessarily require more money, but just shouldn’t be included in a $7 game. Finally, deluxe games have load times, but the 2K Drive load times were especially noticeable and excessive further emphasizing the slow, drawn out, pacing of the entire experience.
2K Drive ($6.99, Universal) races far behind the top tier iOS racing games while delivering a bland experience in almost every regard making it one to steer clear of.