Tuesday, September 6, 2011

MashButtons reviews Driver: San Francisco, needs Drivers Ed.

The cinematic racing title that goes back to the first PlayStation and has sold over 14 million copies worldwide is back. That series being Driver of course and this time around takes place in the city of San Francisco, spanning over 200 square miles. In Driver: Frisco you, the player, take on the role of Detective John Tanner on the hunt for the crime lord of your past, Charles Jericho. New to the series are some new features such as 10 multiplayer modes, over 130 licensed cars, and the biggest of all, the "shift" mechanic. Shifting allow you to seamlessly take control of any other vehicle in the city. As someone that played the original Driver multiple times, once in one gaming session, let's get out from under the hood and see how she drives! 

As I said, I have been a huge fan of the original Driver title, but must admit that I feel the series has gone downhill over the years, but low and behold, San Francisco may be the redemption that the franchise so desperately needed. Old features that made Driver what it is today, like the loose suspension, over exaggerated burnouts, high traffic, and fury inducing crashes are all still there and just as aggravating as ever, but the feature I was most apprehensive about, shifting, actually is a pleasant addition as the gameplay does not rely on it too much and it is incorporated into the story well. The large roster of licensed cars also makes cruising the city for "dares" enjoyable and less like grinding. Film clips can also be collected throughout gameplay to unlock and relive famous motion picture chase scenes. Lastly, the online multiplayer is a blast, my favorite being the tag mode, but you level up with experience to unlock additional gameplay features against your friends.

The bad, well that would be that I felt it was a bit too easy at times. It never took me more than two attempts to complete missions and dares, as opposed to its predecessor which at times had me retrying multiple times to try and shake cops and complete missions. Speaking of cops, they are much easier to shake now. Being able to race throughout historic bay area landmarks is nice, especially being from Northern California, but where this game excels in gameplay, it unfortunately lacks in graphics and dynamic weather and time of day. It is always sunny in San Francisco.

All gripes aside, I had a blast with Driver: San Francisco. The all driving sandbox game has enough to it's single player mode to have you playing for hours. I am easily 15 hours in and only on the fifth chapter. The online works well, where even my least favorite online modes are still entertaining and easy to come back from behind. This is the second franchise that has had a much needed revamp to breath life back to series, the other being Mortal Kombat, and I for one hope this will help solidify another sequel where it can be polished even more to keep the nostalgia of driving bliss and frustration that Driver is known best for.
Mashbuttons.com gives Driver: San Francisco a 9 out of 10. Driver: San Francisco is available now for the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PC, and PlayStation 3.


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