by Max Keogh
previewed on PS3
I remember when the very first Driver game was released on the Playstation back in 1999. Driver’s main source of appeal came from the high-octane car chase sequences and the open-ended city environment that was once considered a revolutionary mechanic. Whilst the original is still praised for being one of the best driving titles ever made, Driver 2 and Driver 3 both disappointed, receiving reviews scaling from mixed to average and then poor reactions. Ever since, Driver has been on a long hiatus. While still noted and praised for its achievements, the series no longer has the same legacy and respect that it once had.
Absent for four years and with two duds under the belt, most believed the franchise to be dead. Ubisoft’s announcement that they were developing a new game in the series called Driver: San Francisco came as a genuine surprise to its fans.
The gameplay is said to be familiar to those who played the previous three games, while adding a few new elements to spice things up. I can’t help but wonder if that will be enough to restore the game to prominence again. Will they enhance or improve Driver as a gaming experience? Time will tell but the signs are good.
Driver: San Francisco will once again put you in the shoes of John Tanner. As the name suggests, your playground will be San Francisco, a city full of life and the scene of some of the most interesting streets in the world. But there’s a twist: John will be reliving his experiences in a coma dream world version of the city. How this will pan out is hard to tell. Ubisoft isn’t giving away much information at this time.
To the developer’s credit, there are actually some rather interesting ideas being put in place. One of these is called ‘Shift’ and lets Tanner instantly transfer himself from one car to another. It is not a revolutionary idea, as DICE’S Battlefield 2: Modern Combat allowed players to jump from one body to another during combat, but it hasn’t been used in a driving game yet. Could be fun during car chases, no? Players won’t be able to Shift indiscriminately though. Dangerous maneuvers such as power slides, jumps and driving into incoming traffic will fill up a meter. Once full, you’re good to Shift.
A series first, Driver: San Francisco will be introducing a number of online multiplayer modes. The most exciting of which is a new mode called Trailblazers. In this four-player mode, players have to chase down an AI-controlled car down the lively streets of San Francisco. By using the trail left by the car, the player who stays on to the trail the longest wins the game. Other online features have yet to be revealed but each should contribute greatly to the game’s overall appeal
Car buffs will find a ton of classic vehicles to choose from. The game will ship with roughly 120 cars, ranging from the Aston Martin to the DeLorean DMC-12. It will also feature a damage model, though Ubisoft has yet to reveal how realistic we should expect it to be. Driver: San Francisco will have the largest driving environment ever to be seen in a video game, sporting about 208 miles of road. Actual landmarks such as the Bay Bridge and Marin County will be recreated in detail.
Driver: San Francisco is certainly brimming with potential. Ubisoft is keen to provide a quality driving experience with new ideas to give it a distinctive flavour. It has been a while since a Driver game wowed us, but San Francisco seems like it might just pull it off.