Driver has returned after years of hits and misses with HD graphics, new game mechanics, and online multiplayer. Can Driver San Francisco bring back the old fans and bring in new ones? Find out in the Gouki.com Review.
Driver has returned after years of hits and misses with HD graphics, new game mechanics, and online multiplayer. With the developers taking Driver back to its roots, back to the city where it all began and the original hero and villain. Can Driver San Francisco bring back the old fans and bring in new ones? Find out in the Gouki.com Review.
The story of Driver: SF follows that of John Tanner, a cop who has gone undercover before, and is considered to be the best wheelman on the force. The story takes place shortly after the events of Driv3r (Driver 3) where Jericho, Tanners arch enemy puts a bullet in Tanners back and leaves him for dead. Tanner just released from the hospital and Jericho on his way to prison, the story begins. Jericho breaks free from his prison escort van and then hijacks it, which leads to Tanner and is partner Jones on a high speed chase straight out of the movies. After a brief car chase Tanner and Jones find themselves in a huge car crash, which leaves Tanner in the hospital suffering from a coma. This isn’t really explained very well as the game immediately picks back up with Tanner and Jones searching for Jericho, and Tanner with new special abilities. This is where the story takes a turn for the worse, Tanner gains the ability to shift into different bodies and drive their cars. When I say turn for the worse I mean it, the story goes from something that could lead to something great, and then makes a hard left into the supernatural world. At first your thinking ok this is kind of dumb, but I can get passed it, then as the story progresses it gets even more ridiculous, with Jericho having the ability also. Only to find out that Tanner was in fact in a coma and the entire story was in his head. Pretty lame excuse for the supernatural to me. Also the story is really short; it can easily be finished in less than 5 hours.
The game play in Driver San Francisco is by far the worst part of the game. With the name Driver you wouldn’t expect the worst part of the game play to be the driving, but unfortunately it is. The vehicles all control relatively the same, which leaves a lot to be desired seeing as there are over 120 licensed vehicles in the game. It’s a shame that you can categorize them into 5 groups of cars and that’s it. The handling is by far the worst part. The game is all about high speed chases, but you can barely make left and right turns at high speeds, which is another problem. When some cars are going 100 mph in the game it feels as if it’s going 55 mph. Other cars don’t have this problem, but there is no consistency. The shift ability is surprisingly fun, switching cars on the fly, causing major accidents, freaking out passengers, it’s great. Unfortunately this does get old quickly, and with how fast the story ends and how much shifting is required it gets tired fast. There are some good things about Driver: SF. For instance, the game runs at a wonderful 60 frames per second, and you can really see that in game. Even though the story is short there are a ton of other activities to do in the single player aspect ranging from races, cop chases, stunts, and even a film editor mode. There is also online play with 11 different game modes.
Driver: SF looks pretty damn good considering that it’s running at a full 60 frames per second. Not an easy feat to do, just ask EA and the team working on Battlefield 3. The car models all look like you would expect them to; even in the cockpit view the game looks great. The car crashes aren’t bad either, although after playing games like burnout you tend to miss the crazy crashes. The city pedestrians however don’t really look to great, and as with most driving games all citizens jump out of your way to avoid danger. I did find a few glitches here and there, mostly concerning the Shift mechanic. There were times where I would shift back into my vehicle only to find it stuck inside a wall swiftly ending my high speed chase. Also with shift cars would suddenly disappear after you’ve left it and swapped cars. Overall though the game looks nice and runs smooth for the most part.
I have to say that the audio department is a hit and miss for me. The cars sound great; the ambience noise from the city does as well. Crashes actually sound like car crashes, the screeching sounds from drifting are great, and voice work is done really well. You can really get a sense of partnership between Tanner and Jones thanks to the talented voice work. The soundtrack however is horrible in my honest opinion. The music doesn’t fit the games timeline or era at all, there is no way to customize it to remove or add songs. Each activity has a specific soundtrack for it, for instance racing has 5 songs, and car chases has its own 3 or 4, and story missions sometimes have no music at all. I think this is a big mistake as I don’t like any song during the racing and my favorite songs on play during the free ride part of the game. If it wasn’t for custom soundtracks on PC and Xbox 360 I would have lost my mind while playing through this game.
Driver: SF has a huge online component, which makes me believe it truly took away from the single player experience. This game is a perfect example of quantity over quality, with 11 different game modes, with only 4 or 5 actually being any fun. There are Races, Trailblazers, Tag, Capture the Flag, Relay Races, and more. Races range from your standard point to point checkpoints, and also Shift Races. The normal racing is decent, but with the bad controls and an online community that has forgotten the word sportsmanship it becomes quickly frustrating. Shift Races are much or less the same only having the ability to shift into other cars if you get into trouble, problem is most players will shift into oncoming traffic and ram head on into you, just to take the lead. While this can be fun with a group of friends, having some random person do it to you isn’t. Capture the Flag is a game mode honestly better left to 3rd and 1st person shooters. In Driver it’s just a hectic mess of cars smashing into each other, making the team aspect very difficult. Trailblazer and Tag are by far the best modes online. Trailblazer has everyone against each other all trying to follow a lead cars trail and score points. This can get really crazy with shift, but is pretty fun and fair. Tag is well simply put tag with a twist, one player is it and the goal is to stay it for as long as possible, if your tagged that person becomes it and starts to score points. This mode is fun because you’re running for your life when there are 5 other players shifting into every car possible to tag you. There is some fun to be had in Driver’s online mode, but I think the developers should have spent more time on a few modes instead of giving us a bunch of half ass modes.
Driver San Francisco is a game that I was looking forward to a lot and was severely disappointed with the overall product. After the game was delayed 5 months or more it just didn’t deliver the goods. I love Driver 1 and 2 and I wish this game really went back to the roots, and gave us something worthwhile. There were too many problems that plagued this game and I unfortunately can’t honestly recommend playing it. There is a demo up if you want to try it, but save your money and rent it if you have to play it otherwise pass on this.