|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii|
|Release: September 6, 2011|
|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.
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.
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.
CCC Contributing Writer