DriveClubSaturday, 24 January 2015
Funnily enough, DriveClub and Watch Dogs were the PS4 bundles that I pre-ordered for release. Unfortunately, both of those games were delayed, with DriveClub being delayed for nearly a year. In that gap, the game to fuel petrol heads was never released, with the only credible racer on PS4 being MotoGP 14, and it really left me wanting more. Would DriveClub be enough to cross my need for a good racer over the finish line?
Developed by Evolution Studios and out now on Playstation 4 comes DriveClub, a driving simulator with pretty big expectations, as the developers have said: “We are committed to giving you the best racing experience”. There are three modes available in the game: Tour, Single Event, and Multiplayer. The Tour is essentially the “campaign” in DriveClub with 52 events to enter and win, 225 challenges to complete, as well as 59 cars available to drive and unlock. You can unlock certain cars increasing your “Club” level. A “club” is basically a clan where you and your friends earned experience contributes towards the level of it.
Like every racing game, it takes a while to adapt to the handling of the cars, and the handling in Driveclub was very frustrating at first. However, it’s rather realistic when you get used to it. It isn’t the type of racer where you can go 120mph around a corner, as you’ll either spin out or it’ll be touching impossible to steer your car around a corner. Personally, the handling is spot on and fellow petrol heads will definitely feel the realism, especially if you love racers like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. Another great feature is that it encourages you to race cleanly. If you cut a corner/crash into another car with too much force, you’ll receive a corner/collision penalty, which will lock your car at a certain speed for a few seconds. Although it’ll improve the way you race drastically, it’ll definitely increase short-term raging.
Now, with racing games in the past I always find that they can become really boring once I’m better at the game, as I’ll finish miles ahead of the AI racers. That isn’t the case in DriveClub, and it’s one of the best things about the game. The AI is ruthless. They’re always a second or so behind you so one mistake can cost you the race, as I’ve experienced a few times. Also, the AI will not hesitate in trying to spin you out, which makes a massive difference from myself sideswiping and spinning out those in front of me. There was a point in a race where second place clipped my bank end on the last corner, and I went from 1st to 9th in the space of five seconds. That’s how close the races can be, and they’re pretty tense from start to finish.
The visuals in DriveClub are stunning, and it makes driving feel like an absolute pleasure. The game’s tracks and environments are inspired by real places in diverse regions across the globe, and some races include a dynamic day-night cycle, as well as weather features such as rain and snow. Although these are decent features, the day & night cycle baffled me a few times, as there’s circuits which last a total of three minutes and it goes from pitch black darkness to sunrise. Visually, it looks amazing but logically? It loses me on that decision. You can also customise your cars to an extent, by placing a vinyl on your car and picking the colours you like, which mixes it up opposed to driving stock cars around on.
There are only two things I’d like to improve about DriveClub, and one is a pretty serious one – the multiplayer. Currently, I’ve only managed to get three races online before disconnecting, and I can’t remember a game where the servers have been this bad. It’s been a total let down on the multiplayer front personally, and during races you’ll constantly disconnect to the DriveClub server as it informs you numerous times in the middle of your screen. However, the three races I did have were your typical online races; people trying to cause as many collisions as they can on the first corner, and whoever makes it out without getting rammed into a wall tends to go onto win the race. I really hope this is something they can sort out, as it will obviously make the game a lot stronger than it currently is.
The atmosphere isn’t all that great, and although it’s hard to notice fans when you’re doing 180mph down a bank in India, when you crash you still notice them. I tested the fans out to see if they actually react in any way at all, and unfortunately they don’t, but at least they’re fully supportive. I sat and the starting line of a circuit facing the wrong way, and even when I was lapped, fans were still applauding my efforts. A minor problem, but a great atmosphere definitely helps the player avoid boredom within the game, and I did get that a few times.
Overall, DriveClub is a solid racer with stunning visuals and fearless AI that make some events a challenge from start to finish. However, the multiplayer isn’t solid enough down to terrible servers, and the atmosphere can make it a pretty boring game at times.
DriveClub crosses the finish line and receives a solid 3/5.