Platform: XBox 360, Playstation 3, Wii.
Genre: Driving, action
Watch The Trailer
Developed by UK based Ubisoft Reflections on the face of it Driver: San Francisco looks like just another GTA clone. Fast cars and gradually opening sandbox cities are ideas that have been done over and over, there's 9 Driver games alone. It would be easy for D:SF to be a generic sequel in the series but what Ubisoft has delivered is a clever twist on the theme and a game well worth owning.
The plot is straight out of an over the top 70’s cop movie that follows John Tanner and his partner Tobias Jones as they attempt to catch the escaped Charles Jericho. A crash in the opening act means the game takes place mostly in Tanners coma dreams and the freedom to not take place in anything like the real world is well used. While you are doing the impossible and often times characters will react in ways that just make no sense the game never feels like it trying to be too goofy for a cheap laugh. Sometimes it does get a little off, you can drive at insane speeds down a side-walk and every single pedestrian will dive out of the way like they can see the future and more than once I crashed into a barrier hard enough to make the car stand on end, land back on its wheels and then take off with no more damage than hitting a kerb.
Shifting is the real unique aspect to this game. Instead of the routine "leave car, run awkwardly to new car, steal new car" within his coma Tanner can leave his own body and fly around as a spirit before picking a car, possessing the driver and carrying on. Not only does this take away the tedious car swapping it opens up new tactics to the game. At any point you can shift into a car coming the other way and plough straight into the car you're chasing. Shift into a car with a passenger and they'll react to your crazy driving with generally funny dialogue that gave me even more incentive to hop between cars just for the hell of it.
Shifting is a brilliant mechanic, possessing random people just to terrify their loved ones never gets boring. The game play itself is solid and shifting allows a lot of tactics for a game where the main objective is go forward really fast. The side missions didn’t get anywhere near as much attention and are the standard street race, get this fast into oncoming traffic kind of stuff, but I do enjoy the side missions where you possess a driver and then try and scare the passenger to a certain heart rate even it does make you wonder exactly how much a hero Tanner really is.
Really the plot makes almost no sense but that’s OK in this kind of game, it’s told with a light hearted almost campy tone so it never tries to take itself too seriously and the action keeps moving at a good pace. San Francisco looks fantastic and even though you can jump quickly across the city from mission to mission it’s worth spending some time going around the city just to enjoy the scenery and zoom through the city in a sports car Bullit style. The controls are crisp, although a lot of cars do handle more like boats you’ll quickly learn how to throw them around corners at high speed, and if it all goes horribly wrong half the time you can just shift to a different car and keep up the chase.
Driver: San Francisco is all-round solid. Even if the music isn’t the best the fun plot and sandbox fun make it well worth picking up.
Rent or Buy: Buy
Replay Value: 4/5
Review by: Tony O'Hare