Driver San Francisco is FUCKING INSANE

Driver San Francisco is a fucking insane game. Fucking insane. Beyond words.

I’ll start with the fact that I played the original Driver game. And the original Driver game was fucking good. I had it on the Playstation back when I was 8 and mum had to do the first level, because the first level was the hardest one in the game – you had to complete a series of tests in a small car park – three fuck ups and you had to start from the very beginning. It was by far the hardest mission in the game because no other mission shoved you in such a small space and had such tight time limits.

But the rest of Driver is pretty fun. You can do missions or literally just drive around town, being careful not to piss off police officers. You were a police officer too, an investigator and undercover cop, I believe, and they would chase you down if you plowed through other cars.

A familiar vehicle.
A familiar vehicle.

There’s three other games (I think) between Driver and Driver San Francisco. All involving driving around. Driver 2 allowed you to get out of your car and take other people’s cars. Driver San Francisco lets you jump into the bodies of other drivers and take control of their cars. Yeah.

Okay, so the whole undercover cop busting gangs and stuff thing is still there. But in Driver San Francisco, this mob boss you are about to send to jail forever breaks free and after a car chase, he escapes and you get knocked into a coma. In your coma, you have the ability to drive through a San Francisco created in your mind. You switch between driving your car to a bird’s eye view to a top down view, with the ability to jump into almost any car you see. Pressing the Shift key (which I bound to Shift because it makes sense), sends you out of your car and into almost the sort of view a bird would have, allowing you to fly around and pick a new car to shift into. You can drive a car as long as you want, and switch whenever you want.

Buying cars with... willpower.
Buying cars with… willpower.

You can also buy specific cars, because each car has their own stats, and missions, scattered around the map, will require different things. You’re not going to want to take one of the billion Volkswagen Beetles in San Francisco into a drag race against an Audi TT – seriously there are a lot of beetles in San Francisco for some reason. Currently I have a Dodge sort of thing and a Pontiac, because the game required me to buy some starter vehicles. The currency in Driver San Francisco is called Willpower. Yeah. You use that to buy more cars, as well as unlocks and other assorted things. Willpower’s earned in missions, after every half-hour or so of gameplay or small amounts just by driving around town.

I should probably point out though that you don’t play as the yellow Dodge Charger. That’s reserved for story missions. Story missions unlock more of the city and other things to do, because at first not everything is unlocked. That’s fair, the opening area is pretty large as it is, and you need something to give you progression.

That’s the insane part about Driver San Francisco. The plot. Everyone else kinda has normal plots, Driver San Francisco decides to go all Life on Mars on everything, but somehow being more crazy. And a lot more in your face. There’s no subtlety here.

A car fresh out of the garage.
A car fresh out of the garage.

Then again, you’re not playing for the story. You’re playing to drive around.

But the standard side missions are all kinda boring. It’s hard to make them interesting, being a driving game, and the basis of the plot makes it kinda even worse. Things like drag races and obstacle courses will always be the same, the only real difference is what car you use. Missions that require you to escape or stop someone though? You can actually do some really cool shit. You see, a lot of the time, you can jump in and out of cars whenever you want, even mid-mission. This leads to some interesting stuff, where you can jump out of your vehicle to crash another vehicle into the guy you’re chasing, or use a bus to break in front of a bunch of police cars to help someone escape. The only thing you can’t do is take control of vehicles directly involved in the mission, but even then that probably wouldn’t be that reliable as the AI vehicles aren’t… that smart. Depends on the car though. You do have some sort of tactical power as well, it’s not all 100% reliant on driving skills.

That being said, the driving is pretty nice when you get used to it. You MAY need to alter some settings though, because the default control scheme on keyboard is weird – using arrow keys rather than WASD to steer.

What about the rest of the game? It’s alright. Not bad for a 2011 game. The world is a little bit bland, but it’s a bog-standard city based on a real human city, I don’t expect there to be ramps and stuff everywhere. There’s a nice variety of cars though, so that’s not an issue. Cut scenes look pretty damn good, probably too good in comparison with the base game.

It’s interesting to note though that you can’t run people over, they all jump out of the way, just like previous games. There’s a lot of destructible things to run over, but you can’t always tell – I’ve crashed several times into fences or gates that did otherwise seem passable.

Music is kinda a mixed bag too. There’s an in-game radio and an interesting mix of music (including a lesser-known Beastie Boys song and a track by the Eels) but it’s not amazing enough to make me want to turn off my own music.

Would I recommend Driver San Francisco? Yeah, sure. It’s got a pretty cool gimmick to it. Compared to similar open world driving games, it might feel a bit small and a bit dated, but I suppose that’s because Driver San Francisco is.

The biggest turn off though? This game requires UPlay. So I’ll understand if you want to pass this game up.

Medic

Also known as Doctor Retvik Von Schreibtviel, Medic writes 45% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Medic has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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