It’s been a very long time since I last played a racing game. Sure, I’ve played plenty of games that had driving in them, like Saint’s Row, but not a straight racing game. In fact, I think the last one I played was Project Gotham Racing way back in 2001. It’s not that I don’t like racing games, but they’re not as much fun when you play by yourself. But recently I’ve heard good things about Driver: San Francisco. And so far, although the game obviously has a strong emphasis on multiplayer, the single-player game doesn’t seem to be lacking.
I have had a lot of fun with this game so far. I played through the tutorial & I was rarely able to stop giggling (yes, it was giggling). The story’s a little meh, but what do you expect? I think it follows from the previous Driver games, but I don’t seem to be at a disadvantage by not having played them. With a racing game, the driving is what’s most important, & so far it seems solid.
I’ve had to get the Saint’s Row mechanics out of my mind, however. Driver: SF is decidedly more realistic — or so I assume, as I’ve never been in a street race. The cars can stand up to quite an impact, but they won’t go flying in the air when you hit them. In fact, more often than not hitting another vehicle will make you fishtail also. I spent a lot of time fishtailing & pulling accidental 180’s while I was getting use to the handling. But once I got use to it, the controls feel really good. It’s also nice that there are multiple camera views so you can pick the one you like, from the standard all-car view to the driver seat view. Personally, I prefer the full first-person view without the hood visible.
The key feature of Driver: SF is Tanner’s ability to “Shift” or to astrally project into other vehicles & take control of the drivers. I foresee a lot of strategy in future story missions, but so far I’ve just been using it to go from one mission to the next. Speaking of missions, the game is fairly open. Again, it reminds me of Saint’s Row 2, where you unlock story missions by doing the side missions. And in this case, the side missions include helping the police chase bad guys, races & stunt courses. Completing missions grants you Willpower, which you can then use to buy new cars, upgrade them or purchase property. You also gain Willpower based on your driving, such as overtaking other vehicles, hitting one of the many convenient ramp trucks driving around or drifting.
I’m looking forward to playing a lot of this game. The story may wind up as some cheesy old cop show, but so long as the driving stays solid, I think it’ll be a good game.