Drive Girls (PS Vita) Review

By Gabriel Jones 08.09.2017 1

Review for Drive Girls on PS Vita

In the far future, the dream of any would-be hero is to join the Emergency Response Team. Unfortunately, not everyone can become a part of this elite force. Some either don't have what it takes, or forget to set their alarm clock on test day. A few even get suckered into bug extermination on Sun Isle! As it turns out, these are no everyday insects. They're huge, armoured, and packing military grade weapons. If they manage to conquer Sun Isle, then the world is sure to follow. For Lanciera Revolution, squashing thousands of pests wasn't exactly her dream. Still, what's more heroic than helping friends and standing tall in the face of danger?

"Scantily-clad women that turn into cars" is a bit of an odd concept, isn't it? It's like somebody stared at the covers of raunchy car magazines until they went cross-eyed. The entire time playing through Drive Girls leaves you wondering, "How exactly does all this work?" The heroines of this hack 'n slash adventure are human, yet they can also transform. It's never really explained how or why. In the future, people can shapeshift into vehicles, never mind the logistics of it all. Apparently, they also require fuel to drive. Where is it supposed to go? It's probably rude to ask.

It also has to be said that Lanciera Revolution is an absolutely ludicrous name. To put it another way, some maniac of a parent actually named their daughter after a Lancer Evolution. Is this another aspect of the mythos? Is the make and model of the car a person can turn into determined by their name? Imagine if somebody named their child Reliant Robyn; they'd be dooming them to a lifetime of failure. While there's something to be said about overthinking, any explanation is better than none at all. In the absence of context, players will deem it necessary to fill in the blanks on their own. Ultimately, the nonsensical lore doesn't really matter, but it does correlate with the lack of explanation of the game's many sub-systems.

Screenshot for Drive Girls on PS Vita

Basically, unlike a number of other hack 'n slash games, understanding the mere basics won't get you very far. While it is possible to achieve some success in mashing the attack buttons repeatedly, frustration will become commonplace before long. The enemies are large, have a lot of priority in their attacks, and zero qualms about surrounding and pummelling the heroines. The most obnoxious foes tend to attack in groups of three, and they'll happily juggle hapless warriors into oblivion. Surviving the onslaught, without burning through dozens of healing items, requires a lot of abilities that this title makes no effort to explain.

First off, there are four kinds of attacks. They are performed by pressing or holding the Square and Triangle buttons. Different moves can occur depending on where in the sequence the buttons are pressed. Certain combos are especially effective at containing dangerous foes. It's also wise to incorporate transformations into attacks. The car's spin and charge moves are great for dealing with any type of adversary, but controlling it demands a unique skillset as well as precision driving. Movement can be pretty unwieldy at first, and the five playable characters all have their own unique fighting styles, which can further complicate matters. At least there's a training room for testing everyone's weapons and abilities. It's pretty useful.

Secondly, learning how to cancel animations is essential. The player character has access to both melee and ranged weaponry. Switching to the gun will cancel out most animations while on the ground. Even if a Drive Girl gets knocked down, she can immediately recover simply through animation cancelling. Needless to say, this can have other positive effects when linked with attacks. Weapon swapping is accomplished simply by tapping the Vita's touch screen. Eventually it becomes second nature.

Screenshot for Drive Girls on PS Vita

The third piece of the puzzle is the humble energy gun. This is one of the first pieces of equipment the player will come across, and they just might ignore it. Considering how viable mashing buttons is early on, it's somewhat understandable. Still, it's actually an incredibly useful weapon. It does great damage, has decent range, and can lock down especially annoying bugs. Ammunition is tied to energy, which is replenished by landing melee hits.

Finally, there's the overdrive system. When the Drive Girl attacks and destroys enemies, their drive gauge will fill up, increasing their stats at every rank. Achieving the maximum rank will push them into overdrive. For the next minute or so, their capabilities are doubled. However, a lot of the most dangerous enemies don't present any opportunities for effectively building meter. In these situations, the player should hold down the Circle button. This special technique empties the energy meter while filling the drive gauge. Why such a fantastic and essential bit of tech isn't covered in the manual is anyone's guess.

Still, even sufficient knowledge and practice isn't quite enough to become successful. In the end, it all comes down to the grind. That means repeating missions over and over for cash and stickers. Most of the player's cash will be spent on L-Gears, because they provide boosts to the Drive Girl's offensive and defensive capabilities. Afterwards, it's all a matter of obtaining the best stickers. Collecting and equipping a set of them will lend dramatic benefits, such as massive stat increases or even regenerating health.

Screenshot for Drive Girls on PS Vita

Figuring out this game's numerous mechanics isn't made any easier thanks to the constant camera and frame rate issues. There is a lock-on function, but it has a habit of presenting unfortunate low-angle views, and they make the action hard to follow. The frame rate simply can't keep up. Eventually the player will just sort of adapt to these debilitating conditions. Though they can't always tell exactly what's going on, they know what moves they're performing, and can still comfortably manage the current situation. However, if they still haven't grasped all of the advanced techniques, then they're just going to be immensely frustrated.

The driving aspect is also severely undercooked. Most of the time, it's just a method for getting from point A to point B. A handful of story missions involve racing, but they're so easy they're almost not even worth mentioning. It's also unfortunate that many of the levels feature an excessive number of landmines. The charge attack can barrel over these nuisances, but there really didn't need to be so many. Numerous abandoned vehicles litter the roads. Some explode, some don't. Sometimes it's better just to transform back into a human and dash past all of the obstacles.

Alongside the single-player campaign is the cooperative mode. Up to four players, through ad-hoc or online, can team up to take on various high-level missions. It's a nice feature. However, one can expect to have trouble finding other players to connect with. It's a shame, but seeing as how this is a niche game, it tends to come with the territory.

Screenshot for Drive Girls on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Anybody expecting Drive Girls to be another dumb fun slasher will be sorely disappointed. The learning curve is pretty high, requiring a substantial level of patience, and perhaps even a guide or two. Given enough time and effort, it can be pretty entertaining, and the especially skilled will appreciate the advanced techniques. Until then, all this game has to offer are a poor camera, cheap enemies, and aggravation. It asks a lot and doesn't give much in return. What content is there is stretched far too thin. There are a lot of missions, but very few unique enemies, and nothing in the way of creative level design. Even fans of cheesecake will find depressingly little to satisfy their interests.

Developer

Tamsoft

Publisher

Rising Star Games

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

All these derivative anime jprgs is starting to wear very thin, I used to like them, but now they largely suck - marketing only on hot girls and nothing else.

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