Driver: San Francisco (X-Box 360)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In Driver: San Francisco, the series returns to its roots and gives fans a driving experience that is dynamic, kinetic, and above all else, fun. While some of the previous Driver installments veered away from the driving aspect, in this game you’re always behind the wheel. This is great news, as the driving is fine tuned and is a pleasure to experience. The story in Driver: San Francisco is a little unusual, as you are in a coma, but can forge psychic connections with other folks. This means you can overtake their minds, control their cars, and swap between drivers at will. An odd concept perhaps, but it works. The process is called Shift, so if you’re falling behind or just see a faster car, shift on over and turn the tide of the chase. Or just shift into a vehicle and cause chaos on the roads, allowing you to shift back and take advantage of the situation. The premise seems a little gimmicky, but in-game Shift is great and adds a lot to the experience.

You might always be driving, but San Francisco is still open to explore, engage in side missions, and just have fun doing whatever you please. The city has been optimized for your stunt needs, so roads are more generous and some of the buildings have been demolished to ensure you have room to pull off insane stunts. Even so, San Francisco still feels alive, as there are cars all over the place and the overall atmosphere is effective. The actual driving mechanics feel excellent, as there is a slight arcade texture to the experience, as handling is quite forgiving and your vehicles can absorb immense destruction. I found the campaign to be a lot of fun and a good challenge. Some sections are easier than others of course, but even on the tougher races, I was never frustrated. Just use the shift mechanic often and you’ll be fine. The story missions are straight-up races for the most part, while side missions add in challenges like stunt performance, objective based runs, and races that work under alternate rule sets. So as long as you like to drive, there is ample content to explore, even in single player.

In the field of multi-player, you’ll find eleven modes to compete within. As fun as the campaign was, this is where Driver: San Francisco really shines. The arcade edge to the driving is very evident here, as races will involve much more than simply trying to finish in first place. You’ll have so much fun with stunts and various objectives, you might even forget about the checkered flag. While this genre is crowded in terms of competitive modes, Driver: San Francisco offers a more fun based approach, which makes it stand out from the others. I like a great, realistic road race sometimes, but I also love to just go wild in the streets, so the appeal of the modes here are obvious. Driver: San Francisco is an insanely fun game that reboots the franchise and ditches the elements that were sinking the series. The refocus on driving has paid off in big ways and while the shift mechanic was a gamble, it was a smart move and adds to the fun. I also enjoyed the ability to collect points from certain driving skills, then use those to upgrade cars and even add new cars to my arsenal. In the end, Driver: San Francisco offers a unique, effective game experience that lets you progress at your pace and approach challenges in your own style. I couldn’t have asked for more from this game, which leaves me to give Driver: San Francisco a high recommendation.

Video: How does it look?

The visuals here are beyond remarkable. The attention to detail is seriously insane. The cars have been designed with even the most minor details intact, inside and out. The interiors are staggering, even the gauges in each vehicle are accurate, not to mention the countless other touches. The urban landscape is well crafted as well, while damage to vehicles is tangible and it can be fun just to watch the various levels of destruction. In short, this game more than keeps pace with the simulation based games out there, so kudos on the stunning visuals here.

Audio: How does it sound?

The sound design is almost just as impressive as the visuals, with a great soundtrack and some visceral vehicle noise. The roaring engines, burning tire tracks, and impact of collision all sound excellent. The crashes have a real gut-punch feel, so you’ll know when you smash into someone flush. The music seems to mesh with the game’s action as well, while dialogue is well acted and never gets lost in the shuffle. The sound design does all the things we’d expect, plus even more and in a game centered on driving, those little touches are crucial.

Supplements: What are the extras?


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