by Joseph Barron
previewed on PC
Comeback Of The Driver
In the late nineties the original Driver broke new ground and was a revelation in 3D open-world games. Many gamers still hold a place in their heart for this cult classic which drew inspiration from legendary car chase movies like Bullitt and The French Connection. Since then the series has stagnated and struggled to keep up with the intense innovation of other open-world adventures, especially the Grand Theft Auto series. This year UbiSoft are bringing the series back with an emphasis on the thrilling car chases which made the original game so memorable.
The game’s plot takes place shortly after Driv3r. The lead character Tanner discovers than Jericho, the antagonist from that game, is being transferred in a prison truck but escapes using a vial of acid and manages to hijack the truck. Tanner gives chase but crashes and is injured so badly that he slips into a coma. The game takes place in Tanner’s coma dream, but the climax of the story takes place once he has woken up.
Miles To Cover
Driver: San Francisco is, as you might have already guessed, set in the real-world San Francisco, as well as small parts of Marin County and Oakland. All in all, there will be a staggering 208 miles of road, all of which is looking remarkably detailed in what has been shown of the game so far. The graphical detail and the rock solid 60 frames per second are very impressive for a game of this scale. The environments look superb, if a little stylised, and the city’s landmarks are instantly recognisable. Roads are populated with far more traffic than we are used to seeing in other open-world games and all of the cars are very well modelled with detailed textures which would not look out of place in closed-circuit racing games like Forza Motorsport and Shift. All of this detail combined with such a superb framerate should make this version of San Francisco one of the most accurate and enjoyable yet seen in games.
Once you’re in the car the game should feel familiar to Driver fans. Cars have exaggerated oversteer, making them easy to drift and recreate your favourite moments from classic car chase movies. The developers have promised a fine balance between arcade and simulation in order to try and make the game enjoyable for a variety of driving abilities, though the game will not support steering wheels (Ouch! -Ed). In addition to the exciting chases the game also includes a new feature called “Shift” which allows you to swap between any vehicle on the fly, moving from car to car through the traffic and taking direct control of the cars that you swap to. The Shift ability can be upgraded as well in order to Shift across larger distances in the city in order to fast travel between different locations, such as to start a new mission. This unusual mechanic has been described as an optional way to play the game, with the developers pointing out that you can stick to your own car for the duration of the missions if you wish.
Director Mode makes a welcome return to the Driver series in this game and once again will allow players to edit videos of their best car chases and, as a new feature, share them online. Budding action movie directors will find a reasonable set of tools available to help them create exciting clips, or simply show off their driving skills to the world.
Online multiplayer will appear in Driver: San Francisco for the first time in the series. Nine different modes have been promised, but only Trail Blazer and Tag have been announced so far. Trail Blazer sees points gained for following an AI car as closely as possible. In Tag one player is the target and the others must try to hit them. The first player to hit the target then becomes the new target. The modes so far don’t sound as exciting as you might expect from such a creative series, but hopefully the yet-to-be-announced modes will add a little more imagination to the online multiplayer.
With its remarkable framerate, intriguing story and classic car chase mechanics, Driver: San Francisco is shaping up to be the return to form that the series so desperately needs.