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Driveclub (PS4)

Driveclub (PS4) - Review

by VGChartz Staff , posted on 20 October 2014 / 14,355 Views

Nine months late to the party, but better late than never, Driveclub has finally made its way to the PS4. What was supposed to be a launch game for Sony's newest console system when it was first revealed back in 2013, Driveclub became heavily delayed due to problems with its social system and the team falling heavily behind in the development process. But did all the extra time help to make the game a show stopper, or was it all wasted time?

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One of Driveclub's most notable selling points is its graphics, which are absolutely stunning. The reflections, scenery, and lighting are all astounding, with particle effects and advanced smoothing effects bringing the world of Driveclub to life with remarkable accuracy. Leaves and flowers on the road will fly around as cars pass them by, and little bits of mud will flick up at the camera as you drive off the road slightly. Little details like this make for a gorgeous game. The developers at Evolution Studios should certainly be proud of what they’ve achieved with Driveclub from a graphical standpoint, as it easily boasts some of the best graphics available on the PS4.

While praise can be heaped on the graphics, the same cannot be said of the AI, which is lacklustre at best. From the offset it’s clear to see that each AI competitor on the track is stuck to a rigid driving line, and God forbid if you get in the way of that line as the AI will smash into the back of your car without compunction and cause you to spin out.

Cars handle absolutely atrociously. Hyper cars (the premium vehicles you get towards the end of the campaign), for example, readily spin out of control, making for a frustrating gameplay experience. Wheels will constantly screech as you make your way around the track, which is Driveclub’s way of telling you that you’re driving that part of the course incorrectly (read: too fast and not the line they’d like you to take), but that's ridiculous when it’s the only possible way to overtake the AI in the campaign.

Driveclub is a weird hybrid of a game. On the one hand it’s trying desperately to appeal to simulation fans, with the game’s graphics, car handling and game mechanics (like corner penalties and collision penalties) pushing it into the simulator camp, but it lacks many of the additional options simulation gamers look for, like vehicle customisation, different AI difficulties, and togglable driving assistances. The lack of options pushes the game more into arcade territory, where players just select a car and drive, but it lacks the care-free accessibility and fun-factor synonymous with that sub-genre.

The way you progress through Driveclub and unlock more cars to use in game's multiplayer or single player events is through the game's campaign mode and your own driver level. The campaign is made up of a variety of different events, from time trials to drifting challenges. There’s enough diversity in event types to ensure you’re constantly tested in every area of your driving ability. However, the game doesn't do a very good job at motivating you; there's no narrative incentive to progress from one event to the next, and the events themselves rarely unlock new vehicles. Instead, unlocks are based on your driver level, so you could effectively keep completing the same race indefinitely, quickly accumulating lots of driver points in order to unlock the remaining cars.

Driveclub features five different locations, and each location boasts a good variety of different tracks. While five locations may sound a bit on the low side, in the game's defence I rarely felt like I was re-treading old ground as I progressed through the campaign. As far as car count goes, there are 55 to select from, and Evolution Studios promises more in the form of DLC (there will be a large amount of both paid and free DLC). While the value proposition may seem solid on paper, in reality the frustrating and lacklustre gameplay severely limits Driveclub's mileage.

The social features, which were a significant cause of the game's initial delay, were subject to numerous teething problems in the first few weeks since launch. These issues have since been smoothed out, but the social element of Driveclub offers little beyond the standard online features found in most racing titles nowadays.

The social element allows you to constantly compete with your friends and other clubs, even when playing against the AI. For example, whilst competing in a standard event challenges may appear around the race track. Taking on these challenges will net you points, which increases your club and driver level, but they quickly become repetitive as there are only four challenge types: cornering ability (where a line will appear that you’ll need to follow as closely as possible to accrue points), drifting ability (the amount of drifting points you can earn around one or multiple corners), speed average challenge (being able to maintain an average speed between two points), and speed challenge (where you’ll need to maintain near top speed to accrue points). These provide nice little bonuses as you play, and initially they do provide an added level of challenge, but on the whole it's little more than a throwaway feature.

The multiplayer offering is also fairly basic, with "events" popping up every few seconds that you can compete in. Apart from competing for sheer competition's sake, there isn’t too much on offer from the online multiplayer, with races and championships feeling not too dissimilar from the main single player campaign, just with more brutal competition.

Driveclub feels like it was made in a vacuum of time, one in which no racing games have been released since the original Gran Turismo for the PS1. Evolution Studios have failed to adapt to the advances and changes made to the ever-changing racing genre (not least in the realm of driver AI) and in so doing have missed out on a lot of what makes modern racing games fun.

If you want a game to show off the prowess of the PS4, then Driveclub is by all means a top tier candidate for your cash, but if you’re looking for a good racing game that’ll keep you hooked for hours on end then Driveclub is miles off the mark.

VGChartz Verdict


This review is based on a retail copy of Driveclub for the PS4, provided by the publisher.

Read more about our Review Methodology here

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