A title synonymous with action packed fun from the PS1 era, a franchise that single-handedly blew away its competition and reinvented driving games forever, it’s a title that every single gamer is familiar with, But this franchise quickly succumbed to laziness and lack of innovation that tainted the name of the series forever, turning the widespread love into infamy and distrust. Ubisoft had a lot at stake with this title; it had to re invent the series and claim back its title as the leader of the pack, and win the trust of its avid fans. Driver San Francisco not only managed to do that, it managed to re-invent the Gameplay to something so cleaver and great it left me speechless and wanting for more.
Plot: The storyline follows after the events of Driv3r (the abysmal title that saw the demise of the franchise) with Tanner and Jericho both surviving their previous face off in Istanbul. The game starts off with Jericho behind bars in San Francisco preparing for a transfer to another prison. He pays off one of the guards and manages to hijack the vehicle whilst in transit. Tanner and his partner quickly give chase to the vehicle with the iconic Dodge Challenger, and during the chase the hunter became the prey with Jericho ramming the two into oncoming traffic. Tanner and his partner get hurt in the process and loose Jericho, but after the accident tanner is gifted with the power to 'shift' from one body to the other. Tanner masters his new found gift and uses it, to try and apprehend Jericho, through petty criminals. But as the story starts to unravel Tanner finds out something that might make Jericho a tougher nut to crack.
Audio & Video: The game is rendered spectacularly well, with textures unseen before in such a game and cinematic cut scenes that will blow you away. The physics engine and the destruction sequences are nothing short but fantastic, but unfortunately the picture is slightly grainy at times and the split screen mode suffers from a low frame rate. The ‘shifting’ missions have a light glowing filter that render the picture slightly grainier and brighter, diminishing yet again the picture quality. The sound quality is good, though I did expect more from the SFX surround. The soundtrack is still really good matching the sequences and game style to perfection.
Gameplay: The title is a sandbox action title with the usual story line missions and side mission. Much like Burnout Paradise side missions are segmented between stunt, police, thief, race, or scare missions, with gained XP used to purchase cars for your personal collection. The ‘shifting’ ability allows the character to shift into any cars on the map, allowing him to use surrounding vehicles as ‘guided missiles’ against police cars or enemy vehicles. The Gameplay mechanics are amazing and immersive, and the game handles like a charm. The cars handle similarly like the ones in Burnout Paradise giving the heavy feel of environmental and vehicular changes. The only aspect I have to criticize is the problem of having a crummy AI when shifting into another vehicle, during police chases when you shift to create a diversion you go back into your car to find it stuck to a tree or driven into an oncoming pickup truck. Some side missions do tend to become quite boring and repetitive and some unrelentingly punishing which will get you swinging you controller across the room. You will manage to encounter cool ‘Easter eggs’ and extra fun stuff to try out when exploring the city which makes this game hard to put away.
Personal Experience: Well as a fan of the early ps1 classics, I can confidently say that Ubisoft have once again earned my trust and love, this game sets itself apart in so many ways, and manages to introduce new Gameplay mechanics that revolutionise racing games in an awesome and fun way. As ludicrous as the premise is this game flows smoothly, with storytelling stylisation resembling modern day action movies, and the more you immerse yourself in the game the more you’ll get hooked. This title makes me wonder even more why people still bother playing (and enjoying) the GTA titles.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Written By Matthew C.