The popular Driver series continues with Driver: San Francisco, bringing new features and including one of the largest driving environments in a game. Confirmed to be in development in 2005, Driver: San Francisco finally emerged in 2011. Ubisoft obtained the series from Atari in 2008, making San Francisco the first one in the series to be released to Xbox 360.
Driver: San Francisco is an open-world, action driving game which involves cinematic car chases across San Francisco with over 200 miles of road network past famous locations such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Oakland and parts of Marin County. Parts of the city are locked when you first load the game, but as you complete objectives more and more become unlocked. The objectives are varied, including chases, stunts, challenges, activities and due to the shift ability an array of characters are met, each with a different perspective. Complete the City Missions and more of the story unlocks. The Film Director returns, a fan favourite which was omitted from previous versions.
Driver: San Francisco takes place six months after the events of Atari’s Driv3r, where John Tanner and Charles Jericho have survived the shootout in Istanbul. At the beginning of the game Jericho is shown being transported in the back of a prison truck, but escapes with the help of a hired assassin called Leila Sharan, who hires a KEOC news chopper and fires an RPG at the convoy causing havoc. Tanner ends up driving in front of Jericho which results in Tanner’s car being rammed into an on-coming tractor and putting Tanner in a coma. The majority of the game takes place in Tanner’s coma. Whilst in the coma Tanner discovers his ability to shift into another person’s body.
The shift ability is a new feature to Driver which comes in very handy in objectives. If pursuing targets, Tanner can shift into the car he is pursuing to obtain an advantage, for example in one objective a lady has been kidnapped and placed in the boot of the car, Tanner can then shift into the boot to unlock it. You can also fast track to objectives and shift into their bodies, for example in another part of the city a couple of students are having a race and Tanner can shift into one of them. The shift ability was inspired by Google Earth.
Driver: San Francisco contains over 140 licenced cars which range from the ‘60s to today. These can be damaged and handle differently with speed, strength and drift, in fact the handling is pretty good. All cars include an upgradable boost by pressing up on the Left Stick. You can also ram attack cars by charging it with the Left Shoulder Button. Cars can be bought from garages, which you can also buy, as well as buying upgrades or you can take any car within the area. Willpower can also be acquired by performing stunts and skilful driving. Pedestrians seem to have a super-human approach and jump out of the way no matter how fast you are heading for them.
For those who like to complete games to one hundred per cent, there are over 120 in-game collectables to unlock 12 movie challenges inspired by classic TV and Movie chases.
There are nineteen different Multiplayer modes. Eleven online and eight via LAN or split-screen. Modes include; Sprint GP, a straight forward racing mode through checkpoints, Classic race, Relay Race with torches passed to each driver, Tag, Blitz- team-based attacker and defenders, Capture the Flag, Trailblazer- where you need to stay within yellow lines, Takedown- cops and robbers mode and Shift Racing- where you can use the shift abilities in a check point race. Driver San Francisco uses Uplay but the passport is now free. Along with this there are leaderboards to compete with.
The specially designed Driver Club website allows you to unlock exclusive achievements. Find your stats and check the leaderboards, Showcase your film director clips, See and rate your friends’ clips, Review the Community facts and follow your friends’ activities using the Driver Social feed. You can also share your Driver experience on Twitter and Facebook.
Driver: San Francisco includes over 60 music tracks from famous artists and remixes from the original Driver theme. The dialogue is amusing; with humorous conversations between the people as you drive.
The game runs at 60 frames per second, looks very polished and has good lighting effects. Attention to detail has been made on the cars, characters and scenery, making Driver: San Francisco one of the better looking driving games. Every time you start the game you are treated to a ‘previously’ made to look like a TV show, which you can skip if you wish.
Driver: San Francisco is a smooth running, good looking game with a good variety of missions and objectives. The vast map creates longevity, adding to this the multiplayer includes that all important competitiveness. A welcome return for the Driver franchise for new players and fans alike.
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Review: Driver San Francisco
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