Published on September 8th, 2011 | by Daniel


Review: Driver: San Francisco

Review: Driver: San Francisco Daniel

Summary: Daniel takes a look at Driver: San Francisco, is it any good? read the review to find out!


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Let’s get this straight before we even get into the review. The premise for Driver: San Francisco is just straight-up madness. Don’t even bother trying to get your head around it or bring logic into the situation, it’s just mad. Tanner, the game’s protagonist, is in a coma thanks to criminal and arch-rival Jericho. The game then takes place in Tanner’s mind as you embark on a tire-burning quest through the streets of sunny San Francisco to take down Jericho. That’s about the most sense you’ll make of it. The missions you do during the story mode of Driver: San Francisco all happen thanks to a mechanic Ubisoft Reflections have called Shift. Thanks to Tanner’s conveniently timed coma-inducing accident, he is able to “shift” into any car, and therefore driver, in the city. If it sounds bizarre and strange, it is. But… It works. See, Shift opens up a lot of new gameplay opportunities that have never been possible in a racing game before. In the single-player alone you’ll be shifting into Jericho’s henchmen to gather intel on his dastardly operation, shifting into policeman to help enforce the law on the streets of SanFran and even shifting into a team of students who attempt to race in order to send themselves to college. It really is a unique system, and one that brings variety (at least to begin with) to the game. Aside from the Shift mechanic the story is punctuated by some other pretty cool elements. The cutscenes and catch-up montages (like the one’s you’re used to seeing from your favourite prime-time TV show, or, Alan Wake) look amazing. The facial detail on characters such as Tanner, Jones (Tanner’s partner) and Jericho all bring a new level of believability to a racing game, and it feels right in a story driven racing game such as this one. San Francisco is also a star of the game here, with Ubisoft Reflections taking the best bits of San Francisco and removing al of the travel in between. The result almost feels like a fictional city, one that has no “in-between” places. You’re either in the Bay Area or flying up or down the famous hills that San Francisco has to offer, and not travelling to and from these places via boring freeways or country roads. Even minor things in the story impressed me, like the awkward dialogue between Tanner, or the person he’s shifted in to, and the passenger in the car. Hilarious stuff. However, the story mode does come with it’s drawbacks. Firstly, it’s not all that long, and only feels lengthy thanks to the structure of it. You’re forced to carry out two city missions (almost like side missions) to unlock the next story mission/chapter. At first, this allows you to experience some of the more unique experiences that Shift has to offer such as shifting into racers, cops, and, as mentioned before, Jericho’s men. But towards the end of the story it just becomes tedious and feels more and more like a cheap way to extend the length of the story mode. But, that’s not to say Ubisoft Reflections haven’t made up for it in side-missions. There are tons of them, ranging from dares which test your driving skill to film challenges where you recreate famous scenes from famous movies. You can’t say they didn’t give you a reason to continue playing for a while. What’s really impressive about Driver: San Francisco though it’s it’s multiplayer aspect. At first, I was a little suspect about how it would work, but I need not have been as Driver: San Francisco’s multiplayer is a definite hit! There are numerous modes in multiplayer, all but one involve shift- which is what separates Driver: San Francisco’s multiplayer mode. If you crash in Free-For-All (a medley of modes that are all fast-paced and incredibly hectic, yet also immensely fun and entertaining), you just shift into a new car to get right back into the thick of the action. Miss the getaway driver in Getaway (a cops and robbers based mode where one getaway driver attempts to reach drop-off points whole being constantly harassed by numerous cops from all angles) you can just shift into a different cop car in another attempt to surprise and thwart the escaping driver. And so on and so forth. Even standard no-shifting racing is included, but somehow feels out of place, even in a racing game, thanks to the shift ability being turned off. If Driver: San Francisco was just a single-player only game it would be a slight disappointment as the story, despite being fun for a while, is short and at times, boring. However, thanks to the inclusion of the incredibly unique and exciting multiplayer, it’s a pretty solid racer that deserves to be given a shot, despite the series past efforts becoming a little tired. Driver: San Francisco is a breath of fresh air for racing games, if a slightly odd one at that.

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