We've Got Reports Of A Sequel In Progress
John Tanner has had a tough life. After spending several years in the wilderness, watching his once-loved franchise dragged through the mud by terrible sequels, and Reflections concentrating on other things after being sold to Ubisoft, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Tanner is a shadow of his former self. He isn't. Well, he wasn't.
Tanner's luck seemed to have improved for a while. He survived the shootout with Jericho at the end of Driv3r, and he managed to pursue him to San Francisco. However, Jericho escapes his grasp and Tanner, like the Driver series, has fallen into a coma. In an odd twist, Driver: San Francisco takes place inside Tanner's coma dream. Is this game the one to give a new lease of life to the previously comatose series, or should the life support be switched off and the series left to rest in peace?
Coma Coma Coma Chamelon
At the start of the game, a tragedy befalls John Tanner when his 'nemesis' Charles Jericho escapes from prison and, after a series of unfortunate and ridiculous events, causes Tanner to be involved in a road accident and fall into a coma. In this coma dream of his, Tanner is still on the case of Jericho alongside his partner Tobias Jones, but things aren't all as they seem. Despite being an identical city, there are hints to Tanner's state (billboards with 'Wake Up' on them), which gradually get more and more obvious as the game progresses. At first though, Tanner just believes he is still on the case of Jericho; the TV News in his bedroom fills his subconscious with actual events that encouage Tanner to think he can stop them. Tanner has also gained several insane abilities after his near-death experience, such as the ability to possess other drivers and have a birds-eye view of the city as well.
Following so far? You won't for long, as the story gets more and more insane until eventually you begin to lose track of exactly what's going on, why it's going on and why exactly you're playing this crazy game. Safe to say though, that Coma Tanner (as he shall now be known) 'uses' these new-found abilities to infiltrate Coma Jericho's organisation. It's all a bit Alan Wake, yes? Well, no. Why? Because you KNOW he's in a coma, as it's alluded to in many of the cutscenes and the Alan Wake-inspired 'Previously on Driver: San Francisco segments'. This knowledge ruins the mystique a little and makes the game a clichéd racing game, inspired by movies and TV. A true Driver game then, and not a terrible Grand Theft Auto clone like Driv3r.
San Francisco (excluding the Twilight Zone inspired crows and billboards) takes a lot of pointers from Burnout Paradise in terms of its single-player. Whilst Paradise has races on every corner that you initiate by spinning your wheels, San Francisco uses Shift to allow you to see exactly what there is to do in the Golden City. And there is a lot to do. To progress in the story mode, you have to 'unlock' the missions by completing various city missions, and purchase cars and garages using Willpower Points that you accumulate over time.
How do you accumulate these mysterious points in greater amounts than the general income? By completing various activities, dares and missions that are scattered around the city. Dares are worth highlighting as they have you achieving certain driving feats to earn willpower points. From driving 190mph in first-person camera view, to possessing a learner driver and scaring the hell out of their bullying instructor. There is plenty to do. Rather than possessing a car to earn Willpower Points as with the dares and activities, the challenges and races provide a range of difficult objectives in a variety of different flavours. Challenges include ones you unlock by redeeming UPlay points and movie and TV-inspired challengest that are unlocked by accumulating movie tokens. Races are similar to challenges in that they require you to use a certain car to win (or confusingly, come second and still reap the rewards) to earn Willpower Points. Between the various challenges, dares and races littered around the sunny metropolis, there is plenty to do in single player.
A strong return to form for the Driver series. A strong and enjoyable driving game with lots of replayability and things to do, if you have the patience. Great multiplayer.
Handling can feel a bit heavy and irritating, graphical slow-down in places. The story-line can be too confusing at times, with Shift abilities introduced but not explored and a handful of plot twists that are obviously going to occur.