Driveclub’s rocky start in terms of online connectivity bodes ill for this new racing game from Evolution Studios. A PS4 exclusive, the new racing title was a main proponent for the Sony platform and was a key feature at their trade show presentations. It marketed itself heavily on the aesthetics, claiming to be “next-gen” in terms of its level of vehicular detail and gameplay. Despite Evolution Studios extended development window and their own assurances of the game’s remarkable quality, Driveclub falls short of the mark and burns out where it counts.
Aesthetics (Story, Graphics, Sound)
One of the biggest selling points of Driveclub is its graphical capabilities and the level of detail put into each vehicle and track; the textures within and outside the car, the electrical systems within the car, the realistic aspects of the environment — all of these were purported to be painstakingly crafted from their real life counterparts. The cars themselves are spectacular and have an impressive amount of detail even inside all the nooks of the car. Before the beginning of each race, Evolution Studios offers a little treat of perusing the car and its decadence in the light. Yet the environments of each track, while nowhere near bad mostly due to the incredible lighting, are a tad lackluster and are completely overshadowed by the vehicles. Now, it is a racing game and the focus should be on the cars, but lack of sharpness in the surrounding snow-covered mountains or the European countryside does put a damper on the experience overall.
Gameplay (Combat, Systems, Mechanics)
Driveclub rides a fine line between being a racing simulator and an arcade racer, veering more onto the side of the latter. As a racing game, it’s far more forgiving than say Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport; the game’s only concrete punishment for reckless driving is a negligible amount of points deducted from each race and I’ve found it’s much easier to barrel through turns without brakes (I’ve even won a few races thanks to that strategy, using the wall as a brake). On the other hand, the game carries itself as a racing sim and doesn’t really embrace the looseness of its driving mechanics. Controls, like turning and acceleration, are tight and executed properly, which puts the title on par with its competition. However, the identity crisis that the game suffers turns Driveclub into an average racer that doesn’t present anything too bold or innovative.
Speaking of innovation or lack thereof, another main hook of Driveclub is the Club system which allows players to create, join and compete against other clubs in driving challenges. What’s neat here is that players can set challenges for others, whether they’re part of the same club or they want to test their skills against a rival club. It’s a well-executed system but it’s practically an over-glorified clan system with a few tropes from other racing games sprinkled in. Driveclub does do a great job with this system and it does offer an interesting multiplayer experience, but that’s all it is; it does little to stand out from its peers.
On the customization front, Driveclub does offer a wide array of paints, colors and emblems to decorate the exterior of your vehicle. The selection of vehicles is competent as well, but compared to other games in the genre, there’s not a lot of variety. Unlocking each car and class category does take a bit of time and you’ll get to taste everything in the complete package in the process, which is an enjoyable experience.
Driveclub delivers the standard fare when it comes to racing games. Although the title portrays itself as an above average racer, it unfortunately seems to be stuck in cruise control. The lackluster environments, coupled with the sparse vehicle selection and the mediocre driving experience, puts this new IP in the middle of the pack and doesn’t really deliver enough to stand out among its competitors. I’d recommend Driveclub to those who are looking for a solid driving game, but other than the fans of the genre, I’d say save your money and try it out when it hits PS Plus.
Final Score: 7 / 10
Written and Edited by Tim Atwood