Since the well received original Driver game back in 1999 the series has lurched from one average game to another, with the last few being sub-par overall.
So another Driver game wasn’t exactly cause for celebration on my part but the more I saw of the game the more I thought maybe this is the one where they will turn it around.
The previous game’s star John Tanner returns along with Tobias Jones (his partner). The villain of Driver 3, Jericho, finds himself locked up in San Francisco and is being transported from prison when he escapes and Tanner ends up chasing him in his car. Just as he is about to catch him, Jericho rams Tanner’s car into the oncoming path of a truck – leaving Tanner unconscious.
This plot device leads to the introduction of the ‘shift’ mechanic – a means for Tanner to zoom out of the vehicle he is in and select a different car to ‘shift’ back into. Much like Quantum Leap everyone else still sees the original driver of the car rather than Tanner, leading to some great comedy moments.
I initially thought this might be a bit clunky in practice but it’s easy to pull off quickly and can be used to great tactical effect.
The handling of the cars is arcade-y rather than simulation, which is just right for this type of fast paced driving action. At times I found the steering to be temperamental, which was frustrating but in general the vehicles had a decent heft to them and felt great to throw around the tarmac.
My biggest complaint is that staple of story-based driving games, becoming stuck on one mission and not being able to progress. In Driver: San Francisco this is stretched further by the fact you had to finish enough side missions to trigger the next story mission.
It really did feel like a chore at times – especially the ‘race’ style side missions where one mistake (often not of your own making) would cost you the mission. This game could’ve done with being a couple of hours shorter in my opinion.
Driver: San Francisco is by far the best game in the series for a long, long time and it’s one you should definitely give a spin. It’s a bit bloated in terms of length but the driving is good and the story is fun as well.