Sinclair User27th August 1989
Published in Sinclair User #93
Power Drift must be the boy racer's dream game. All the elements that your XR3 driving mega-lad could possibly desire have been captured; squeely tyres, ultra high speed, treacherous roads, no traffic cops and a simple mission - get round the track before everyone else, by fair means or foul.
Power Drift is viewed by many as the ultimate arcade driving experience. You win more through bottle than driving expertise.
It's a simple fact of life that the graphics are a poor imitation of the coin op. But that's fine. It's the impression of the game that matters. And it's just about there.
The control of the car is simple. Left, right, gas, brake, change gear (hi or low). At the start of each race you can cycle through a selection of drivers (which determine which car you'll have) and then decide on which course you want to race.
The terrain changes wildly from course to course. One moment you'll be swooshing over sand dunes and loose gravel, and the next you'll be smashing your shock absorbers on bone-shaking rock formations.
Different road surfaces require different styles of driving. You'll have to turn in much earlier on a loose surface to avoid sliding out of control.
A point which I found disturbing is that the other drivers on the course never, ever, slide off the track or even drift at all. I'm sure this is nothing to do with the saving on graphics memory involved in only showing the backs of the other cars. I was also a bit bothered by the fact that your wheels don't turn around either.
Everyone in the history of the world must know by now that achieving a three-dimensional effect with some degree of speed is virtually impossible on a home machine.
Obviously, you end up allowing for the sacrifices made by the programmers in order to give a fast game with ropey graphics or a fab looking game that's none too fast. Power Drift strikes a medium that is far from perfect but about as good as anyone could reasonably expect. There are some definitely wonky pieces of coding. On the elevated sections, why do the huge rocks at the side of the road hang, unsupported, in the air? Why can you drive through the tyres of the other cars some times, but get bumped off after a tiny knock at others?
Although I found myself infuriated by these niggles, it has to be said that I did go back and play the game time after time. It definitely has a great deal of finely honed playability. Yes, sometimes it is very hard to see what's going on on the screen, but you're still determined to get that 'third or better' position to get through to the next change.
So, Power Drift wins in the end. It's playability wins through over some dodgy features. A triumph over adversity.
Label: Activision Author: In-house Price: £8.95 Memory: 48K/128K Joystick: various Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Ultimate driving game makes the transition, just.