Words words words about Driver: San Francisco.
by, 14 May 2012 at 11:05 PM (505 Views)
Who cares about the Driver series? Sure it may have been relevant back in the Playstation 1 days and even past the first game that's up for debate. Flash forward some 200 years and Driver: SF hits. I in my infinite lack of wisdom pass this game up despite the shockingly good demo. I can't even remember what I was playing instead. Gears of War 3? Whatever. If anything I should have been talking this game up for the remainder of 2011. Not only does it run at a most excellent 60 frames per second it's also a brilliant and extremely entertaining driving game.
The plot is very much insane. An undercover cop and pro-driver by the name of John Tanner is hospitalized after an automobile accident while pursuing the escaped convict Jericho. Somewhere in the sea of flashbacks Johnny gains some sweet powers. What is Jericho planning? Shouldn't John be in a coma? Are you seriously going to want to make sense of all this? Driver SF is as unapologetic as videogames can get. It knows it's nonsensical and keeps rolling. Consider investing in some goggles to keep your eyes from rolling out of your head if you bother to follow the storyline.
But hey I'm fine with it as long as videogame stories provide excuses to perform the most absurd actions. Tanner has the power of shifting at his disposal. Say he's trying to stop a criminal. Why go through the trouble of running them off the road in his own car, when he can just take control of someone else and cause a head-on collision with said criminal? Oddly enough this game is the closest we've gotten to Quantum Leap. The thing to keep in mind is that no matter the circumstances, everyone carries on as normal. So after John shifts into a vehicle and performs whatever he needs to do, soon after he leaves the person he took over regains control. Their ride and personal well-being may be several times worse for wear but nobody plays open-world games to worry about civilians.
Shifting is not just for stopping some chumps from evading the police. Making split-second decisions can influence other tasks such as winning street races or protecting vulnerable vehicles. Maybe you get into an accident in the middle of the race. Rather than curse your ineptitude and head for the "restart" option in the main menu, you can scan the area for something to slow down your opponents. Narrow streets can be blocked by tankers, a car-transporter can suddenly switch lanes, or if you're exceptionally desperate, a multi-car pile-up straight out of the Blues Brothers just might be your only chance to recover. Clever players will find a lot to love with the shifting system.
All of this wouldn't matter if the driving model was poor. Thankfully Driver: SF is excellent in this aspect. Each of the over 120 cars and trucks offer the perfect balance of weight so it takes skill to handle them properly. You're not getting a free pass with a push-button drifting model like some other driving games, but you're also not stuck with a pile of crap that is impossible to control. This game gets the fundamentals right which makes for some very satisfying driving. The sensation of speed also delivers appropriately, especially if you use one of the first-person camera angles. There's also the "thrillcam" if you've got what it takes to make highlight reels and don't mind perspective changes every few seconds. Take out the concept of shifting and you still have a driving game that stands tall.
I've yet to get into the Multiplayer. It's probably one of those sad situations where nobody is playing it anymore. Maybe this weekend I'll cross my fingers, enter the online pass, and hope for the best. Still on the merits of the Singleplayer alone I say that Driver: San Francisco is awesome and you all should definitely give it a look.
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