Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Evolution Studios
Note: If you’ve heard of Evolution Studios’ ‘Driveclub’ then you’ve also probably heard of the game’s online connectivity problems. Players everywhere are having a hard time connecting with each other which is a shame given that it is a major selling point of the game. Already the recipient of one patch, Driveclub is going to receive the updates it needs until multiplayer is fully functional. With that being said is the game playable and enjoyable right now? Definitely.
Driveclub is a PlayStation 4 exclusive multiplayer racing game, where players can connect with each other, form and join clubs and unlock rewards for playing together. Touted as an immersive experience that “seamlessly connects you and your friends” and a game that “brings to life the heart and soul of car culture”, Driveclub is basically aiming to be the next big thing in the driving game world. While it doesn’t live up to those bold ambitions, the game is still fun and a welcome addition to the racing game scene.
At the start of Driveclub, players are presented with a menu bearing a number of activities. There’s a single player career mode, single player quick race and multiplayer mode, among the usual options, etc. At first, I was worried that Driveclub would bet yet another needlessly complicated racer with too much story, car setups and tuning that is overly-detailed and controls that are so realistic they’re unforgiving to the casual racing game enthusiast (not a rev head). Thankfully, Driveclub is accessible to just about anyone, regardless of their understanding of cars and car culture. Unfortunately, car nuts looking for depth will be disappointed by the lack of an actual story and in-depth car customisation, as Driveclub simply hurls new cars at the player for completing events and the only customisation options available are paint jobs.
Career mode’s races are made up of a number of different events. There are single car time trials, ghost racing (racing a previously recorded performance of yourself), championships and more. Regardless of which event you’re participating in, you can earn points by performing a number of different driving techniques such as drafting, drifting and racing through sections clean (without hitting another car or scenery). On some events, these techniques are absolutely vital to winning. I found there was one time trial in particular that I couldn’t earn gold on unless I absolutely mastered the track and avoided collision. In fact, most of the single car events were a perfect-or-fail affair, with no room for error at all.
Almost the exact opposite by comparison, multi-car races (races where you race several other cars) allowed much more room for error and the odd collision. I found it strange that on one hand I could be forgiven for driving like an absolute maniac and on the other I couldn’t even toss up a pebble from the gravel without losing the gold. It felt more than a little inconsistent of Driveclub.
Now, onto the handling and game play themselves. Much like the game’s presentation, the handling and cars in Driveclub are on-par with any simulation out there. I was reminded of Gran Turismo and Moto GP where the key to success lay in careful braking and not rushing around at maximum speed just because you can. Experienced driving sim players will find that Driveclub fits them like a glove, but more inexperienced players like myself will absolutely have to learn to not treat the game like Burnout where you can drive a number of ways and still win.
One particular feature I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by was Driveclubs environments, which look fantastic. Normally a racing game offers the bare minimum in terms of environments (as the cars tend to get all the developer’s attention) but everything in Driveclub looks as good as each other. With that being said the actual cars themselves could have probably looked better. Oh well, you win some you lose some.
- Looks great
- Lack of customisation
- Inconsistent difficulty. Often feels too easy.
This now leads me to how I feel with the game overall – You win some, you lose some. Driveclub is fun, but probably won’t serve as a challenge to virtual rev heads as someone completely inexperienced like myself was able to trounce any event on the first go or within a single retry. I enjoy that the player is rewarded with cars and paint jobs for finishing events, but that in itself also feels too easy. Combine that with the almost complete lack of tuning and customsation and Driveclub might feel a little stale to the experienced racer. Inexperienced and more casual racers might see Driveclub as a great introduction to the genre, which it is.
At the time of writing this, the online multiplayer is in need of several patches, holding this game back from its potential and a higher score. It was, after all, marketed as a multiplayer racer.