Driver: San Francisco Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Driver: San Francisco Box Art
System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
Dev: Reflections
Pub: Ubisoft
Release: September 6, 2011
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence

Driver's online experience offers a lot of variety, and some clear creativity on the part of its developers. Rather than racing and destruction derby variations, Driver: San Francisco offers games such as Capture the Flag and Blitz, in addition to various race types and a Takedown mode. Blitz is Driver's most unique game type, in which one team must defend a base while the other team attempts to infiltrate it by crashing their cars headlong into it. The defenders merely have to tag their opponents to take them out of the game and score points, while the attackers simply have to squeeze past the defenders. SHIFT adds another layer of strategy to this, as defenders won't always want to just sit in the base, but move out and catch attackers as they sweep in. Takedown is cops and robbers, in which the cops can possess any car on the road using SHIFT, making the robber's life much more difficult as he tries to make a series of pick-ups around town.

Driver: San Francisco Screenshot

In general, when one possesses the objective of a game type, that player cannot SHIFT, but everyone else is more than welcome to pop into other cars at any time. A flash of lightning announces the change. In the interest of balance, SHIFTing is limited by the ability meter, which is shared with boost. In addition, as players gain experience and level up, they unlock new cars, new modes of play and, perhaps most importantly, new abilities. These abilities allow one to change a car's model after possessing it, spinning other players off the road from the SHIFT perspective, and spawning a car on the spot for one to inhabit. All such abilities use the weapon meter: a second bar that must be completely full before one may activate an ability

Most importantly, however, the multiplayer is smooth. I never once experienced lag of any kind and finding games was generally a painless process of choosing a game type and waiting a few seconds. It's somewhat disheartening that the cars you purchase in the campaign don't transfer over to the multiplayer, which makes the campaign's extra challenges and dares seem all the more superfluous. However, it's probably better for the sake of balance that the two are kept separate.

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Driver: San Francisco is an entertaining gem from a series that had fallen into obscurity and stagnation. It strips away the "me-too" and gets to the core of what makes high-speed chases entertaining, with recognizable cars that handle realistically (but not too realistically) and distinctly, model damage in a viscerally satisfying manner, and offer an intoxicating sense of speed. The short of it: I don't like racers, and I rarely like driving games, but Driver: San Francisco hit a sweet spot with its gameplay that had me continually coming back for more.

By Shelby Reiches
CCC Contributing Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.0
Graphics
Though the character models are low-detail and jerkily animated, the real stars of the show, the cars, are painstakingly reproduced and their damage modeling is superb.
4.5
Control
Intelligently mapped controls make the game a matter of skill, and never one of luck. Cars handle logically and, by and large, realistically.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Though the voice acting is bad, the cars sound satisfying whether driving or crashing. The licensed soundtrack has more hits than misses.
3.5
Play Value
Once beaten, there's really no reason to go back to the campaign except for the sake of completion. The multiplayer, though, will keep players coming back for more.
4.2
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Rediscover the cinematic driving sensations of Driver: loose suspension, long drifts, Hollywood-style crashes, and high-speed pursuits in dense traffic. Drive over 130 fully destructible muscle and super cars with realistic handling and customization features that take fast-action driving to the next level.
  • Uncover a thrilling character-driven storyline in which personal revenge fuels Tanner's relentless manhunt for Jericho. Follow Tanner's survival race across San Francisco and beyond to discover how this chase will bring him to a point of no return.
  • As Tanner recovers from a terrible crash, he realizes he has acquired a new ability, SHIFT, enabling him to instantly change vehicles and take control. Experience unprecedented intensity, diversity and freedom; SHIFT into a faster car, deploy civilian vehicles to destroy your enemies, and even take control of your opponents' car to force their demise. SHIFT also allows for thrilling new Multi-player modes within the game.

  • Screenshots / Images
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