Saturday, September 3

First impressions of Driver: San Francisco (X360)

I’ve been a fan of the Driver series since its inception in 1999 and have been looking forward to the newest installment for some time. When the demo became available on XBL, you can bet my sweet arse I was downloading it as fast as my poor connection would let me.

The series has always been easy to follow – in most cases you are Tanner, an undercover police officer with a talent for driving and getting yourself out of any situation. Driver 1 and 2 were (visually) basic with Driver 3 upping the anti and bringing more aesthetics to the table. It was also the first to introduce motorbikes to Tanners skill set. Driver Parallel Lines was a little odd and the most violent of the series and didn’t actually continue on with the adventures of Tanner.

Taking place soon after Driver 3, Tanner has recovered from past events and has tracked his nemesis, Jericho, to San Francisco. Jericho is soon arrested, but after an accident during a prison break, Tanner is put into a coma, which is where much of the game takes place.

More cinematic than previous installments, the first mission (demo game play) explains the newest trick in Tanner’s comatose-state arsenal; shifting bodies. Essentially, Tanner now has the ability to leave his body and take control of any one in the vicinity.

This is an interesting concept and one that I was dubious about at first, but now that I’ve trialed it, I can already see the potential story arcs and how it will work well. It’s not confusing or difficult and as long as the ‘shifting’ missions are relevant, it should add some good value into the game. If it’s an overused gimmick, I won’t be impressed.

As with Driver 3, I found the physics and actual driving a little hard to pick up at first. Granted I’m a little rusty at racing games, but I crashed a lot more than usual. It’s not odd for me to need a little time to get acclimatized to the controls so I can’t criticize too much.

As for the scripting, the demo was top notch, being a good indication for the final product. The writing and witty remarks about my ‘outstanding’ abilities behind the wheel didn’t get old within seconds. Tanner’s smart-arse comments once shifted into another person’s body are also priceless (at times).

All in all I’m keen to find some time to get to know Tanner again and tear up the streets of San Francisco. Driver: San Francisco  is available now on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC and Mac.

Have you seen or played Driver:SF or it’s demo? What are your thoughts?

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