~ Lasting First Impressions of Driver: San Francisco from Ubisoft ~
I love driving games. More specifically, I love street racing more than circuit racing. I grew up playing the original Need for Speed on my PlayStation and have had a new racing/driving game in my collection consistently over the years. Naturally, when Ubisoft announced the latest in a long line of Driver games, I took notice. Driver: San Francisco is the sixth release in the Driver series, developed by Ubisoft Reflections. The story begins after the events in Driv3r, again with the main protagonist from the first three games, John Tanner. Driver is available now for PS3, XBOX360, PC, and Wii.
Before I was able to play the game myself, my eleven year old daughter, Sydney, decided she wanted play it first so I sat with her and watched her play for a bit as she learned the concept of the game. And it is quite a concept. While driving around the vast recreated city of San Francisco, you have the ability to literally move from one car to another and continue on as the driver of this new car. I won’t give away how you are able to do that, but I will say it’s quite unique and a little bit odd all at the same time. After an initial story telling action in which you control several scenes, you are taken through a few tutorial missions to give you the hang of how the game and the controls work. Everything is fairly straight forward here (although here was a very strange cut scene in which you drive the car for about 10 seconds before the game takes over again) and the story takes off right away. The controls are what you’d expect for a driving game so there are no surprises there.
Sydney really enjoyed seeing the city of San Francisco and being able to drive around anywhere she wanted. She also thought it was quite cool how she was able to jump from one car to another and drive anything she wanted to drive. She was quite thrilled with the method by which Tanner was able to jump from one car to another, which I will leave for you to experience on your own.
Driver: San Francisco reminds me a lot of Burnout Paradise in how there are so many different activities to do in the game. While several missions will move the story along, many are just there to have fun. Missions range from simple races to more heart-stopping chases, from simple stunt performances to more advanced takedowns. Each mission that helps out the citizens of the city will bring Tanner closer to his main objective of bringing down the criminal he’s chasing.
During my time with the game, there was only a small portion of the city open to me, so I can see immediately that this game is going to be huge. Ubisoft Reflections has infused so much detail into this game it is mind-boggling. Each and every car in the game handles distinctly different and it looks like the city itself has been meticulously recreated for this game right down to simple road signs and newspaper vending machines.
This is definitely the kind of game any driving fan will have no trouble diving right into. The vast variety of driving activities and lengthy story will keep you coming back for “just a few more missions”. After an hour playing the game, I was absolutely having a good time with it. Not all missions are going to be easy though, so you can expect a few frustrating moments, but after a couple retries, they’re definitely possible. This is a game I think I’ll find myself coming back to regularly. While it may not be a game that I must play every day until I’m finished, it’s definitely one that I will keep in my library for quite some time. It is the perfect pick up and play game for when you just feel like getting in a car and cruising the city of San Francisco. For me, this is what driving games are all about.
Ubisoft, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.