driver san francisco

REPLAYABLES: Driver, San Francisco (2011)

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A funny story prefaces the reason I own this game; we found the disc lying in the bottom of our family’s pool. Someone had thrown it over the back fence and it had landed in the water. Five months after we fished it out, it still operates on the PS3. So for being not only an enjoyable driving game but for sheer ability to survive in chlorine and salt, I’m reviewing Driver San Francisco on how likely it is to be replayed, years after its release on multiple consoles.

Consisting of over one hundred and twenty cars, huge networks of roads and playable areas and nineteen brilliantly constructed multiplayer modes, Driver San Francisco boasts of some great features. The initial storyline is straight from a ‘Fast and Furious’ script – a thrilling manhunt for an escaped crime boss across the city while trying to anticipate and bring a halt to the evil man’s dastardly plans. As someone who doesn’t usually become engaged in stereotypical fast-car plotlines it was a decent crime story to use as an excuse to race a lot, jump things, blow stuff up and shoot the hell out of the city while buying new and better vehicles at various points throughout the game. You play as the protagonist Tanner, a disgruntled cop chasing desperately after the crime lord Jericho but you can share the experience of other individuals you interact with during the course of the story which shakes up things a little. These ‘city missions’ are a variety of stunts, races and demolition-charged chases in different locations. Tanner can also take challenges to build up on willpower and gain other advantages for the game. A combination of competitions, drifting, smashing stuff up and movie-inspired contests – the challenges are decent entertainment and worthwhile completing. For the truly brave there are various dares located at icons throughout the city, which are fun to attempt even if the payouts aren’t that much.

Then of course, there are co-operative plays, either online or in split screen against a friend with another controller. Competitive or co-operative challenges – you choose. Personally, this is what makes the game so worth pulling out again years later – the fact that I can try to annihilate my friend on my favourite tracks. Co-operative running from the cops is also enormous fun, I thoroughly recommend you have a go with someone and see who panics more. For the more fanatical car drivers there are accuracy-dependent games of skill and technique but be prepared to give up a lot of the time if you spin out of control with the slightest nudge from another car. Frustration abides in all of the various modes of play. 

The graphics are pretty and the mechanics can be a little tricky but once you get used to how the cars drive the experience becomes a great test of skill. Not being a car fanatic, I have to admit there is a plethora of driving experiences from cars famous in the 60’s until today with various gimmicks and advantages. By far one of the best features of the game is the ability to ‘shift’, jumping forward into other cars or using other drivers on the road to advance you forward. It also makes the artificial players much harder to overcome because suddenly, in a burst of lightning, they can spawn in front of you to cut you off. The leveling system is also one of the best I’ve seen in a racing game – simple and straightforward but resulting in a great sense of achievement when you are successful at acquiring another level.

All in all, this game can be replayed many times over, either with your friends or online or even just to try and find everything to complete in the story mode. I’m not even a massive fan of the genre but I can admit that the straightforwardness of Driver San Francisco and the ability to customise to your liking makes this an enjoyable game. It’s not run-of-the-mill at all and I applaud the developers for streamlining what makes an effective racing game whilst making unique features.

Pull it down off the shelf and have another go. This one is worth it. Even if you do throw it over the back fence into a neighbour’s pool because your friend beat you.