The Scotsman Games review: DriveClub

After years in development, DriveClub still feels underwhelming. Picture: Contributed.
After years in development, DriveClub still feels underwhelming. Picture: Contributed.
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THE game that vowed to redefine social racing stalls in the starting grid.

DriveClub

Platform: Playstation 4

Score: 6.8 / 10

ORIGINALLY intended as a flagship launch title for the Playstation 4, DriveClub endured a troubled birth, delayed for nearly a year amid talk that the game was being sent back to the “drawing board.” While a free to play version for Playstation Plus members remains in development, its retail release was not without its own gremlins, with online issues hindering its much trumpeted multiplayer component. Having given the developers the benefit of a few weeks to iron out such issues, then, does one of Sony’s big Christmas games live up to its promise?

Frustratingly for a title that has been in the workshop for too long, it may take a few months before there is a definitive answer. As things stand, DriveClub combines responsive and unforgiving driving mechanics with beautiful visual representations of all things four wheeled. Beneath the bonnet, however, there is a lack of oomph and online problems persist. It presents a iteration of racing that is too simplistic at a time when its competitors are coming up with ever increasing variations on the formula.

The lighting system is superbly designed and the locales are inspired

There is no doubt when you begin to play DriveClub, its graphical fidelity leaves you with a favourable impression. Spanning Scotland, Norway, India, Chile and Canada, the locales are inspired and distinct, each rich in environmental detail and a constantly shifting atmosphere thanks to a superbly designed lighting system. When you are behind the steering wheel at full pelt, watching the scenery whizz past and reflections of the car’s interior flickering on the windscreen, it is hard to think of anyone who has done a better job than Evolution Studios in showcasing the technical power of the Playstation 4.

Yet DriveClub has too long existed as a glorified tech demo, hinted at in trailers and screengrabs. Its success and longevity is dependent on the game proper, particularly online. What it offers, it does well, with players able to team up by the half dozen and compete against one another as well as share their spoils. Racing with friends is a fun and involving experience; unfortunately, DriveClub does not feel unique in terms of the modes and challenges it offers.

The game feels like a skeleton yet to be fleshed out

The game puts the emphasis on the player to team up in these clubs and, for a while, there is an enjoyable competitive edge to besting your chums’ times. It is, unfortunately, not enough to make DriveClub a compelling prospect. They feel like bolted on optional extras as opposed to a spine of the game. And if you hope things fare better single player, think again - the main career mode feels so devoid of any thought or experimentation that it could easily have featured in a PS2 era racer. You get the sense that this is a skeleton yet to be fleshed out. For a game that has gone through such a protracted development, it is simply not good enough.

TIPS AND TRICKS:

1) Taking corners in DriveClub is a fraught and challenging proposition for those used to the likes of Need for Speed. Applying the brakes is essential on sharp bends.

2) More generally, Evolution have shied away from the kind of auto-assist-based driving mechanics found in most racer series. Keep that in mind at all times and adopt a defensive approach at first.

3) If you know your fellow club members, more’s the better. If not, take some time to discuss tactics ahead of an event. The planning will pay off.