We would have to think back to 1999 to remember when the Driver series first began. The series delivers a blend of fast paced driving action with third-person shooting within open environments. So far the series has impressed but never felt complete, and has had three different publishers; GT Interactive (1999), Infogrames/Atari (1999–2006) and Ubisoft (2006-to date). This is Ubisoft’s first attempt at releasing the series on the PS3 / XBOX 360; Driver San Francisco will be released on the 2nd of September 2011.
Driver San Francisco’s story will begin where previous title Driv3r ended, and will feature police officer Tanner, who has continuous conflicts with crime lord Jericho.
The story begins with Jericho and a massive police presence; he is being transferred to his execution – after being placed on Death Row. Checking things run smoothly at the back of the police convoy is Tanner and his accomplish, Tobias Jones. What they don’t know is that Jericho has preparations to help assist him in an action-packed escape. Let the action begin! Out of nowhere fly’s in a news helicopter, which has been hijacked.
The helicopter fires rockets at the convoy, allowing for the beginning of the escape, which sees Tanner frantically chasing Jericho. The chase results in a horrific crash leaving Tanner comatose. Interestingly, from here onwards you will play from what seems to be Tanners comma-state dream. Although this comes as a sudden surprise, it does make for some interesting and unusual gameplay.
You won’t be able to walk around the city looking for cars to hijack like you can in Grand Theft Auto games, for example, but what’s cool is that you are able to use something called Shift, which allows you to switch from your current car to any other vehicle whenever you wish. Something new to the series is that the vehicles on offer are all licensed, and there will be over 100 of them. You will also want to check out the variety of stunts scattered around the city.
There are plenty of missions and side quests on offer. As you complete them you will earn Willpower, which is the equivalent to XP, and allows you to spend on new cars and other cool stuff. You will also be able to spend Willpower points on expanding the map revealing new sections, thus allowing you to jump to new areas simultaneously.
The controls might not appeal to some, they are very sensitive and will need steady hands, and this could prove to be a huge issue. A racing based game with bad controls is always a big NO, and having to constantly restart missions will become frustrating.
The graphics are appealing and crisp, the game is designed to look and feel like a movie, and you will find that the game maps the main areas of San Francisco accurately. Expect to see many of the popular landmarks within the game, but don’t expect the whole map to be an identical replica, because that it isn’t. Real cars and real areas of San Francisco make for some uncanny realism. Car crashes and damage are captured in great detail and in real-time, but let’s remember, this game is made by the same people who developed Destruction Derby and Stuntman.
What could make or break this game are quite probably the controls. Otherwise, this is Driver back to its best, for so many reasons: great graphics, a massive choice of fully licenced cars, a great setting, plenty of stunts and an interesting story.