The Tokyo Xtreme Racer series has seen a few good entries, but for the most part, the series hasn't been much to get excited about, particularly in the last couple of years. That didn't stop developer Genki from creating a spin-off series that focused on drifting, a type of racing where you throw your car sideways into a turn so that you can take it at high speeds. The first DRIFT game was hampered by bad handling, ugly graphics, and a repetitive conquest mode. Now, almost one year to the day later, Tokyo Xtreme Racer DRIFT 2 suffers from the exact same problems.
Driftin' ain't easy.
DRIFT 2 opens with a nonsensical story about the Emotional King, a great street racer who suddenly disappeared. Then there's something in the story about two racers known as Absolute Emperor and Miracle Summit who take his place as the best around, as well as another group of racers who are threatening to take over...or something. The story is a complete mess and unfolds via a series of inane message board posts that are somehow less coherent than real message boards. It's impossible to follow the story, even if you wanted to, but thankfully, it doesn't matter much.
In the game's career mode, you start as an unknown driver. As you win races, you'll get better vehicles and become better known. DRIFT 2 has a solid roster of more than 170 vehicles from manufacturers, including Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Honda, and more. While there are some nice cars available, most of the roster is unimpressive; most of the cars are subcompacts, there are too many older models, and many of the "different" models are virtually indistinguishable from one another. You can purchase new, as well as used, vehicles, and they can be upgraded with the money you earn from winning races. You'll be able to upgrade your engine, brakes, tires, shocks, transmission, clutch, and more, as well as reinforce the car's body, decrease its weight, or add turbo. If you enjoy tuning your vehicle, you can alter a number of settings to try to get the most out of your ride. You can also change your paint scheme, and if you have a sponsor, you can add its decal to your car to earn some extra cash.
The original Tokyo Xtreme racing games took place on the highways of Tokyo, but the DRIFT series takes the racing to the mountains. In DRIFT 2, you'll race through the mountains of Japan in such locations as Hiroshima and Hakone. As in the previous game, racing takes place during the day, as well as night. In daytime races, you'll try to beat specific course times, navigate through cones on closed courses, or in drift races, try for the highest point totals. You'll earn money for placing, but you only earn points toward leveling up by finishing first. There aren't many different races you can compete in, and it's hard to figure out how to unlock more races, which means you'll likely find yourself racing the same events over and over again.
Once you've dropped a little money into your ride, it's time to race at night. You find races by going to parking lots and challenging other drivers. They'll respond with some lame comment, and then you're off to race. Most races are over when someone crosses the finish line, but you can also win by staying out in front of your opponent long enough to completely drain his life bar. You can also lose this way, and your life bar drains a bit every time you hit a wall or your opponent. There's no visual damage in the game, but if you repeatedly ram walls over a long period of time, your car's performance will decrease. The night races are fun for a brief period of time, but like the rest of the game, they quickly become repetitive.