Missing, presumed dead. That’s a fair summation of where the Driver franchise found itself. Having once been one of the biggest series in videogames, a very poor sequel – Driver 3 – drove the franchise into a ditch from which it’s since barely recovered from.
But with Driver: San Francisco, there’s a sense that it might just have scrabbled together a new place in the world.
Packed with mayhem
At heart, this is a mayhem-packed, occasionally quite bonkers arcade racing extravaganza. It’s full of tasks, missions and races, and the developers have clearly had a lot of fun putting them together. What’s more, it has come up with a driving mechanic that makes the game, at its best, an absolute hoot to play. You’re encouraged to push things to extremes, and rewarded when you do so.
It even gets away with its beautifully daft premise, and turns it into a intriguing variant on the genre as a whole. Protagonist John Tanner actually spends the game in a hospital bed, remotely controlling pretty much any vehicle he wants. The joy of this is you can fairly instantly leap to a different vehicle, and use it to your advantage. So, you can take control of a car that’s heading towards the one you’re chasing down, to try and cause a bit of motor mayhem.
The creativity at work here is to be commended, and it papers over some of the problems with the game. The single-player part, for starters, is a little too brief, while occasionally the outright exhilaration of something like Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is lacking.
But this is a startlingly strong resurrection of a franchise, and a very confident one. It’s a bold idea – even if it is glued to a daft narrative – and works a treat. When you factor in the extensive, varied and quite brilliant multiplayer options, too, Driver: San Francisco might just count as one of the unexpected treats of the year.
- So much fun, and at times extremely creative.
- Well, the story. It's necessary, yet awful.
A hit out of nowhere. A fun, manic, bold arcade driving game, that takes a few risks, which pay off handsomely.