WeView: Driver: San Francisco

Right, that’s quite enough of RPGs for now I think, lets try something a bit different now. With its driving based gameplay and coma driven storyline I don’t think you can get more different than last year’s Driver: San Francisco.

Although seven years separate San Francisco and the abysmally named Driv3r, it’s set just six months later on. Whilst Driv3r may not have been a shining beacon of gaming fun, it was nice to see the series returning to the adventures of John Tanner.

Fortunately Reflections didn’t take much else from the very poorly received third entry in the series, heavily overhauling the mechanics and introducing the ability to shift between the drivers of different cars. That may seem a bit odd but it all makes sense in the context of Tanner’s coma. Well hopefully it does.

Fortunately the weirdness of the game didn’t put Peter off when he reviewed it back in September. Score wise the title came in at a respectable 8/10, something that certainly isn’t to be sniffed that. If you’d prefer you information presented in letters rather than number we’ve got you covered as well.

Driver: San Francisco could have been a bit of a damp squib. It all hinged on the usefulness and implementation of that shift mechanic. Balancing so much of the game’s prospects on that one innovation was a huge gamble for Reflections.

Thankfully, it has paid off and the game’s most risky change from previous titles has become its most useful and endearing quirk. San Francisco isn’t perfect by any means. There will be those that don’t enjoy the distinctive handling of the cars, those that won’t appreciate the humour or the semi-period feel of the environment.

This is a game that is bursting with character and, for those that appreciate a ‘70s soul-and-funk-fuelled power slide through metaphysical pondering, it is a delight.

That’s how things went in the review, but what are your thoughts on the game? Did you feel it fell flat, or did it manage to pull everything together? Whatever your thoughts on the cop-fuelled, coma based driving are let us know in the comments below.

Once you’ve managed to formulate your opinion of the game into some kind of coherent comment, remember to rate the game on the Buy It, Bargain Bin It, Rent It, Avoid It scale. If you’d like your opinion of the game to be included in Monday’s community verdict article then you’ll need to have got everything together by Sunday afternoon at the latest.

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18 Comments

  1. Classic. One of the most unique multiplayer experiences Ive had in a long time. The tag mode is inspired. One wrong move or a cunning shift by your opponent and the game completely changes. Had a lot of fun with this in split screen with friends. Buy it.

  2. I won a copy of this from an Assassins Creed Multiplayer comp at PSAccess last year and never got given it. Constantly messaged Access about it since, even MusterBuster and I have emails from them all promising to send it me, requesting my email and address and such but I never received my prize.
    Dislike Playstation for this =\

  3. My favourite driving game since Burnout Paradise, the sheer fun to be had in San Francisco was a breath of fresh air. The “chase movie” car phsyics were exceptionally well judged, the rosta of cars extensive, the side challenges varied and the soundtrack possibly the most fitting in video game history.

    The car-swapping device, despite sounding utterly stupid, was a revolutionary game mechanic, allowing the player an astounding level of caprice. The 2 car pursuits, in particular were great as a result of it, as you didn’t have to waste time recovering after failed maneouvres and crashes and were able to just bounce to the other pursuit car and carry on – maintaining the games pace perfectly.

    It also meant that you could dip in and out of the games many, many, city wide challenges at will, effectively teleporting and negating the need to drive to start points, something which usually bores the hell out of me. For those who like it – you can still do it.

    As a piece of design Driver should be a wake up call to a lot of other developers, the cut scenes fit perfectly, the audio design was great, the gameplay innovative and the soundtrack was, for me at least, the best and most fitting outside of the first couple of wipeout games.

    Buy it.

    I think the key word for me with Driver:SF was freedom, I could engage with it on my terms and at my leisure – and that was a delight.

  4. I was unsure of the demo but had heard enough positive comments about the game to pick it up when it plummetted to £25 3 weeks after launch.

    Absolutely loved it.

    How many other games let you warp from a pursuing police car into an articulated lorry coming the opposite direction to smash into the escaping criminal head-on?

    None. And therein lies Driver’s genius.

    Buy it. Best £25 game I’ve bought in ages.

    • A game built for Mwuuuhahahahahaaa’ing if ever there was one.

    • I was the same. Wasn’t particularly enamoured with the demo, but I picked it up at christmas for £15 and found it quite enjoyable.
      I haven’t got around to trying the multi player yet though.

  5. Buy it, haven’t finished story mode yet (never like to rush through a game) but have enjoyed it so far.

  6. Should have been terrible (and from a story standpoint it is) but its actually one of the most fun driving games I’ve played this gen. Fun gameplay, especially in multiplayer. Definately worth a buy these days.

  7. From the concept it could have been very good or very bad. The whole game was dependent on the shifting mechanic. I’m glad to say it worked! The game felt smooth and ran at a good framerate (except in splitscreen). Story-wise it slipped, in places losing cohesiveness and generally being strange and convoluted. However, the missions were generally good and the various missions around the city that were fairly unrelated tended to be either great or (in the case of some dares) a bit of a damp squib. Overall the range of cars was great and the road to drive them on expansive. Free-roaming brings a great deal of enjoyment.
    Moving from the singleplayer to multiplayer. The splitscreen was a good feature to add but tended to lack variety and framerate issues in busy areas were frequent. Could be very fun but was a bit of a sideshow. The online had great variety and interesting powers with plenty of fun to be had. The only issue was that in some modes lower level players were at such a huge disadvantage to higher-levelled players that it was impossible to win.

    Overall a solid game with a huge variety of cars and areas, as well as a good game mechanic and a great environment with plenty of jumps and twists and turns. Both story and multiplayer modes bring a lot of enjoyment and it says a lot for the game that I spent many hours doing a time trial of 3 laps for every car round a part of Lombard Street and the surrounding area. All 140 of them; even the trucks.

    BUY IT

  8. Great game. Though the premise is all a bit daft, the shift mechanic actually works extremely well as a gameplay device, and makes things feel nicely varied. Though the actual story part of the single player game can be breezed through in no time at all, the side missions, dares, challenges and collectibles add a reasonable degree of longevity.

    As for the online stuff, there’s a decent variety of modes on offer, and more often than not it’s good fun. It must be pointed out that Ubisoft’s servers are pretty darn poor, and matchmaking in certain game modes was particularly tricky when I played recently. I guess it doesn’t help that the online mode just isn’t that busy anymore.

    Lastly, the soundtrack, visuals, characters and dialogue are all great and do a brilliant job of capturing the lightness of a 70s cop show in a modern day setting. Throw in a good selection of cars, both old and new, and you’ve got one of the better arcade racers this gen.

    Given you can pick it up at the bargain price of £15 new in some places now, it’s a definite BUY IT.

  9. I only played the demo of this and that was enough, the handling was rubbish and the concept of the shifting was poorly executed. I didn’t like it and had no desire to rent the full game.
    Avoid.

  10. I really didn’t like the demo, but I’m encouraged by all the praise in the comments above so I might pick it up if I can find a cheap copy.

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