Off the Road
The title that was supposed to show the true power of the PlayStation 4 console at launch suffered some quality issues and was set back almost an extra year for polish. When I first played Evolution Studio’s DriveClub, I was quite underwhelmed with the game. It didn’t show any promise, it just looked good and even today – after that extra year, the game never reached the finish line.
DriveClub has been all about the beauty of racing fast and expensive cars with friends. The whole concept of creating a club online and letting players either friends or randoms join was quite interesting. I really liked how you could name and design your club and have a team of racers fly that banner. It invokes that pride of racing as a team and representing yourself online against other clubs in the game. However this never came to be because of a serious issue with the game.
Having this concept of clubs requires online functionality but DriveClub servers (or bugs as reported now) has haltered this game stuck on the starting grid. The ability to create, race and join other clubs has been fully disabled from the game which makes the concept of the game unplayable. Players only have access to the single-player tour mode which sees you drive race after race without no other purpose. While this is satisfactory as a racer – it doesn’t help the game stand out from any other titles in the market.
DriveClub has two list of cars to unlock from. One for the single-player mode and the other is a club list so you and club friends can join and help unlock. As per usual, players will start with a low-end set of cars to race with and gradually unlock the next tiers from sports to super cars. You unlock cars by collecting points as you race. Aside from winning, the game calculates your performance in races with points by doing things such as drafting, overtaking, clean sectors and drifting. You can also loose points when you do things such as hitting the wall, hitting other cars and going off the track. So you’re expected to drive clean as much as you can. This however doesn’t stop the dodgy AI from ramming points from you.
The AI in DriveClub has to be my biggest gripe of the game apart from the server issues. It’s like they don’t recognise your position on the track and will at most times, drive you off the road, block you into a corner making you side slam them and sometimes just slamming into you for the sake of it. You don’t loose points when they ram you from the behind but the effect of that hit can cause you to hit the wall or others which will result you in loosing points any way. It’s frustrating and will make you restart races often so you can get some clean points on your sheet.
The one thing I did like about DriveClub is the racing itself. The team has got the handling of the cars almost perfect sitting between simulation and arcade. It’s easy for players to pick up and race and also provide that level of realism to make the game still challenging. Cars are beautifully detailed inside out and I drool every time the cut scene showcases me walking to the car. The tracks themselves while not based on real world circuits still offered some incredible landscape and scenic views. The day/night cycle also creates a mix challenge on track when the sun sets. DriveClub has got a few things right but not enough to justify a complete package.
With the game still not 100% online, the single-player mode can only do so much to keep everyone racing. With the 2nd club car list locked because of the lack of an online component – it’s becoming less interesting to play with. While Evolution Studios got the concept, racing and graphics almost right – they relied too much of the game’s core component to be online which resulted in a race that never happened.
A copy of DriveClub was provided for review. The game was reviewed pre and post launch.