Driveclub PS4 review: spectacular scenery, but lacking in variation

PS4; £59.99; Evolution Studios

Jack de Menezes
Wednesday 08 October 2014 18:21

A year later than planned, Driveclub is here and it appears they’ve taken the extra time to work on...well, nothing. Driveclub is about as simple a racing game as you could find, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The game modes feel catered specifically for the online racer, with the emphasis on forming clubs of drivers and taking on rival clubs in championship battles. Utilising a range of cars from hot hatch racers to thoroughbred supercars and the latest batch of hypercars, clubs can select their personal badges and paint designs to give themselves a unique look.

The reasoning behind the introduction of club racing is that everything you do behind the wheel will help the rest of your club, and vice versa, everything they do will help you.

While online play unlocks a new world of series’ and challenges for you to tackle, what about the career mode? Well it feels just a little bit too simple to really enjoy, at least from the start it is. You’ll find yourself easily navigated to the main menu which is made up solely of different races. Complete races and the challenges put forward and you earn stars – earn enough stars to unlock the next championship, and in-turn better cars.

While each championship is made up of between one and three individual races, there are in-race challenges to conquer. While you’re battling at well over 100mph for first place, you’ll need to be wary to make sure you set a fast enough lap time, win a drift battle or hit a high speed target before the end of the race in order to achieve the full number of stars available. Sound unnecessary? Think again, as the perfectionist inside you will want to restart the race in order complete the challenges, even if you won the race.

The championships, however, could do with a bit more variation, as it all gets very repetitive after a while. Driveclub is more of the mould of Need for Speed and the old Burnout games rather than Gran Turismo and Forza, but it lacks the variation that its rivals offer. The different challenges are – barring the drift races – all within a circuit or sprint race, and you can’t help but get the feeling of déjà vu after a short time.

The actual gameplay is a half-breed of arcade and simulation. You’re able to jam the brakes on with the car sideways and get straight back on the throttle mid-corner in a rather unrealistic fashion, but every so often this technique will suddenly bite you, and you’ll end up in the wall, trees or as we found out, airborne. However, if you try and master the real-life approach of slow-in, fast-out, you’re simply going to get left behind. Everything feels like it is at 100mph – much like Burnout – and because of that you find yourself throwing caution to the wind.

The competition is rather easy too. Hit your marks right and drive an error-free race and chances are you’re going to win. The absence of upgrades and performance changes is quite pleasing, given that too many games have left themselves culpable to a tuners paradise that is both frustrating and unrealistic, and Driveclub does offer a sensible and accurate difference in vehicle ability. Go for a spin in the Bentley Continental GT V8 and it’ll feel quite heavy and sluggish to get turned through a corner, whereas the Lotus Evora Sports Racer will glide through the corners with ease but suffer on the long straights.

So where will you take these four-wheeled beasts? Well chances are you won’t have a clue. Rather than take the usual approach of including world-renowned tracks across the globe, Evolution Studios have decided to pack the game full of imaginary tracks, ranging from the mountains of Norway to the hills of Chile and even rural Scotland makes the cut. While the use of courses ranges wide and the scenery is impressive, it kind of passes you by in that you won’t recognise it, and that’s a very difficult thing to master when trying to impose creative race tracks on gamers that tend to also be motorsport fans.

That said, the aforementioned scenery really is spectacular, and you’ll find yourself careering up mountain faces and hanging over beautiful lakes. The watching spectators do cut a very fake persona as they show very little movement, but you won’t find yourself looking at them too often given the breath-taking sights that can be had. Just don’t spend too long looking at it otherwise you’ll be wrecking before you know it.

With Driveclub released on 10 October, three big racing games, including Forza Horizon 2 and Project Cars, are released within six weeks of each other. The former is more suited to those looking for fun, basic, A-to-B racing that can also be enjoyed with friends online rather than motorsport fans looking for an in-depth and realistic racing game.

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