A well done racing game missing a few things.
After being delayed close to a year, Driveclub finally hits the PlayStation 4. After a “back to the drawing board” session to rework a few things, Evolution Studios hopes to bring players a more social way to race. For the most part, they succeeded, but in some aspects, I feel like the game still isn’t ready to come out.
Driveclub doesn’t have much of a story. In fact, there is none whatsoever. Instead, the game is focused on the racing, and it does so in a very well presented, and thought out way. During any kind of race, players are challenged not only to win and perform well, but also to take on small challenges posed in each race. These may be to score a certain amount of drift points around a corner, or maintain an average speed for a section of the track. These are all represented by someone’s score online. It could be someone on my friends list or any other random player that accomplished the challenge. It’s a nice change of pace from just racing. Seeing if I could beat a score just in one section while still trying to beat my opponents was an added bonus to it all.
Price I’d pay: $49.99
Multiplayer: Online versus and co-op
Driveclub features a rather extensive tour mode where winning races and reaching goals for each event rewards players with stars that unlock more events, and even championships. It is paced very well, and never once did I find myself having to grind for more stars to reach the next tier of races. The objectives may be to finish in the top three of a race while at the same time trying to hit a certain mile per hour or a certain lap time. Events can range from lap races to drifting competitions.
Level up my driving skills.
On top of this, progression is the player’s level as well. Depending on how well a player drives in each event, they will gain points to will increase their driver level. Drafting behind another car, getting clean sections of a track and drifting all add points, while going off track and colliding with other cars will take points away. Leveling up will unlock new cars and paint schemes to try out.
Players can join or create their own club, where friends can join and take on races together via multiplayer. Clubs will gain points and level up as well, in the process unlocking new vehicles and paint schemes to use. It is not all about multiplayer for the clubs either. Players can take on races and challenges at their own leisure. That way, everyone doesn’t have to be on at the same time to participate. These are done though challenges that can be issued either through a club or a solo challenge. Since the game keeps track of every race, time and score the player has set, challenges can be set up with a simple push of a button and sent to whomever all across the PSN.
The big thing about any racing game would be how the cars handle. Evolution seems to have spent the most time getting this right, because it controls very well. Each car handles like it would in real life, while still not having that overly simulation feel to it. It very much reminded me of the Need for Speed Shift and Grid series – not very floaty and each car has some good weight to them, and for the first time in I don’t know how long, I actually enjoyed the drifting. That is a feat many racing games can’t do for me.
One of the bigger showcases are the visuals. This is one thing Driveclub excels in. Both the vehicles and the environments look outstanding. The lighting is very well done and seeing the day night cycle occur in real time while going down a mountainous track is really a sight to see. The cockpit view adds the layer of depth that really makes the game shine as well. There is no denying that this is a next gen game. The damage is minimal to moderate on the vehicles themselves, and from what I could tell, I could beat my car into oblivion and still possibly win a race with it, so realistic damage is not here.
Where’s the American muscle? Where’s the Japanese tuners?
The biggest let down for me has to be the car selection. With only 50 cars at launch, it is already a rather skimpy selection. What’s worse, only European cars are available. No American cars and no Japanese cars are in the game. That means I can’t jump into my dream car, the 1970 SS Chevelle, and try my luck at a race. This also means no Skylines, no EVOs, no RX7’s, and no Mustangs, all of which are almost a staple to any racing game. Now, don’t get me wrong, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, McLaren, Aston-Martin and all the other great European vehicles that make it in are really fun machines to take for a spin, but give me some variety.
One thing that almost blows my mind is the fact that the weather effects that have been talked about and advertised since E3 are not even in the game at launch. That’s right. I can set the weather to be stormy and not a single drop of rain will fall. Small things like this really made me think this game needed a few more months to get ready.
Customization is limited to car paint schemes. There is no improving performance of vehicles through aftermarket parts, and the paint and decal schemes are limited to what is in the game, many of which are locked through level and club progression.
The multiplayer is handled like a queue, where players can join a certain event within an allotted time and get ready for the race when it comes time to begin. Races can be played out in a team fashion, so it may not always be about getting the pole position. It also allows players who are not that good at racing games to still contribute to the overall team.
This is an interesting game. There’s no denying the fact that it looks and plays fantastic, but at the same time, the car selection is a major let down. Now, I know Evolution has said more cars are coming in DLC, the first of which will be free, but with only 50 cars at launch and all of them being European, it stings just a bit more than I’d like. Of course, PlayStation Plus members have no reason not to at least try out the free version when it hits, and if you enjoy that, there’s more where that came from.
Driveclub has the looks and the style of a great racing game. It even plays like a great racing game. The challenges and club mechanics can offer up a ton of content, and the extensive tour mode will keep players busy well into the 20 hour mark. It really is a great game; it just feels a bit unfinished in the car selection and customization fields. Racing fans should really check it out. I just hope you like European cars.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.