DriveClub is out this week – and there’s even a free version of the game (read :demo) for PlayStation Plus subscribers. As the first really new racing game to hit the PlayStation 4, it’s got quite a task ahead of it to convince players not to wait for Gran Turismo 7. Of course, that’s made a little easier by people not wanting to wait until 2023. I’ve been playing DriveClub, and it’s quite good looking, straddling the line betwixt sim and arcade, like a modern PGR. I know nothing though. Here’s what critics think.
DriveClub doesn’t have any one element that makes it an incredible game or a huge leap forward for the racing genre, but it makes some smart choices underneath top-of-the-line presentation. And in embracing a social media-influenced setup to build enjoyable asynchronous multiplayer, it teaches a few important lessons other developers should learn from.
As you finish the Tour and start to take on more and more challenges, Driveclub starts to show its true colours. It may be difficult for some to adapt to in an age where racers sprawl across open worlds featuring hundreds of cars and tons of tracks, but this is a game with a very singular focus. The overarching goals soon start to peel away, and you’re left with the purity of competing against the times and records of friends and rivals, the stunning scenery and the joy of driving cars absolutely on the limit.
Driveclub is a well-made, sometimes irritating juxtaposition of the old and new. The career mode is old-fashioned and its AI is hopelessly ignorant, but the graphics and competitive jabs online feel perfectly fit for 2014. Embracing your fellow human is key to overcoming Driveclub‘s faults, which ultimately make it a better staging ground for car-loving friends than an expression of automotive admiration itself.
Driveclub is fast and easy to get into, nice to look at, and it has a lot going on in the background to keep you connected and competitive with your club members and other individuals. But that doesn’t change the issues in the foreground. Its approachable and enjoyable racing is marred by AI cars that love to unfairly bash and crash on the single-player side. And bugs with the interface and the networking kept me from fully enjoying the multiplayer side. Beyond all of this, it feels likeDriveclub needs more race and event types. What it offers has kept me going for a couple of weeks, but how much longer will it continue to do so?
It’s hard to find any true celebration here. Driveclub is ordinary menus and ordinary races, standard time trials, and a few drift events. Driveclub is bland social competition. Driveclub is the fear of risks and the embrace of the ordinary. It’s basic racing in basic packaging, beautiful and inert and full of attractive cars. It is not, however, an argument for a new generation of driving, given how it fails to exceed the standards of the old one.
Driveclub is the best-looking racing game I’ve ever seen on a console, but down deep it’s a more modest, conventional arcade racer than the sprawling, open-world types we commonly see today. While it successfully creates fast and fun races with a great sense of speed, the overly aggressive AI grates, the difficult drifting seems at odds with the accessible handling, and the single-player loses zest once the solo content runs dry. I’m also surprised at how partisan the day-one car list is. That said, the tentacles of Driveclub can grip tight if you get invested in the game’s asynchronous challenges, and it’s very much geared around encouraging us to hop online and compete by making it so easy.
We’ll have our own review for you later this week.
Last Updated: October 7, 2014