Sony's indomitable racer DriveClub is upon us, but is it as fun as it is gorgeous? Christopher Buffa takes it for a test drive and lets us know what's up!
DriveClub Review for PlayStation 4
Written by Christopher Buffa
Sony's DriveClub looks gorgeous. The long-awaited PlayStation 4 racing game makes excellent use of the console's horsepower to produce the sort of visual eye candy that justifies spending $399 on the machine. Throughout the experience, players will attempt to dominate tracks set within the Canadian wilderness, the jungles of India and the snow-capped mountains of Norway, with birds flying overhead, fireworks lighting up the darkness and confetti hitching a ride on the wind.
It's wondrous to behold, and the developers at Evolution Studios (best known for the Sony exclusive MotorStorm franchise) are quick to point out that NASA lent data to create the night sky. Granted, we don't expect players to identify constellations while traveling in excess of 120 miles-per-hour, or marvel at 3D clouds slowly floating above their painstakingly-crafted vehicles, but when it comes to graphics, PS4 owners have much to brag about.
They can also talk at length about the racing, which is admittedly great. Each of the 50 plus cars from manufacturers like Ferrari, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes tear up the asphalt with precision handling, while the high frame rate guarantees a phenomenal sensation of speed as players swing around corners and blast through straightaways. Throw 11 other competitors onto the road and the action grows even more intense.
Similar to the recently released Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One, players level up to unlock content within the game. In this case, DriveClub monitors almost everything a person does during a race and awards points accordingly, giving players something else to strive for in addition to first place victories, which is ultimately a positive and a negative. We love racking up points for drifting and cornering, but strongly dislike receiving crash penalties for getting rear ended, while on some tracks, trading paint with adversaries seems inevitable. It's one thing to lose points for causing a crash, but being on the receiving end of one is unfair.
Of course, and as the title implies, the point here is to form a club with friends and dominate the world. Next to the graphics it's the biggest selling point. Yet DriveClub handcuffs players by only allowing them to create teams of six players, and at the moment, the game's network features are inconsistent, as Sony and Evolution Studios struggle to keep the servers online. Players are free to enjoy the game solo with a variety of Tours, Time Trials and Drift Challenges, but given DriveClub's socially connected nature, a chunk of the game doesn't work; we expect the developers to fix this problem.
This amounts to a PS4 game that while fun to play, is a little too buttoned up compared to the competition. Had it been a launch title as originally intended, it would have been easier to accept the low vehicle count and network trouble, but almost a full year later, DriveClub feels somewhat incomplete. That aside, its beauty and addictive gameplay make it worth a drive, and we look forward to the free PS Plus version and inevitable downloadable content.
Final Score: 7 (out of 10)