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Buck Up and Drive! Review

Official Score

Overall - 60%

60%

Buck Up and Drive! is a vanity racer that focuses more on spectacle than depth. While we appreciate the nature of a car that can grind rails, there are a number of questionable design choices that cheapen the experience.

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The Gran Turismo series might pride itself on being the ultimate driving simulator, but Fábio Fontes says nuts to that with his over-the-top racer Buck Up and Drive! Featuring wild drifting, grinding, and even a one-on-one fighting mode, should players buck up (and drive)?

Buck Up and Drive! Review

One might have experience hitting the open road in titles like SEGA’s Outrun or AQUIRIS’ Horizon Chase Turbo, but the world of Buck Up and Drive! kicks things up a notch. It might still be a race against the clock with plenty of curves and cars, but there are a few major wrinkles in place to make sure players make it on time.

For one, boosting plays a far greater role. There’s no need to shift gears or brake in Buck Up and Drive!; rather, the default pace is ludicrous speed by default. However, those looking to get to the next checkpoint will need to boost. By holding down the space button, one can enter a blue, yellow, or red state of boost that’ll help players move even faster.

It’s just a shame that this comes across as awkward. While it’s true that this boost state will allow players to bonk traffic and get ahead, each track simply wasn’t designed with the care of Outrun or Slipstream.

This awkwardness extends to the rest of Buck Up and Drive! as well. While there’s something to be said about a car that can grind a rail or do a hurricane drift with a quarter circle movement, actually executing these movements lacks any semblance of grace. One also needs to worry about the police if one manages to bonk enough cars, but taking them down also proves to be awkward with the combat system in place. One easily knows what’s going on when attacking when pulling off a similar move in the F-Zero series, so it’s unfortunate that this title can’t quite achieve the same zenith. It’s a spectacle, sure, but as a result it feels like a bunch of disjointed ideas that don’t quite gel.

This lack of coherence extends to the rest of its main Endless Road setup as well. Players will still choose a course at set intervals, but some choices are questionable. With time resetting at the end of each checkpoint, endurance racers will feel like it’s less like a race against the clock and more of a race against each individual segment. There’s also the fact that there’s no clear pyramid of tracks like the Outrun series; rather, individual segments can pop up multiple times at any given junction.

There’s also Buck Up and Drive!’s Shifty Gear mode, which is a one-on-one fighter that doesn’t quite nail the landing. One must take down their opponent without getting taken down yourself, complete with a timer and health bar. However, the constantly moving camera makes this a battle of frustration rather than a battle to the death; it simply should not have been released in this state.

To make matters worse, there are some juvenile and downright amateur elements that cheapen the presentation. Humorous billboards have their place, but messages like “f- you Baltimore” and “hurry up a-hole” come across as crude. We’re also not sure why certain billboards have QR codes to scan, especially at the speeds we were going, but they are certainly not a welcome addition.

Buck Up and Drive! is a vanity racer that focuses more on spectacle than depth. While we appreciate the nature of a car that can grind rails, there are a number of questionable design choices that cheapen the experience.

This review of Buck Up and Drive! was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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